Adelaida Baez Urena (class of 2015) is a student in the M.Arch. Program
Why did you choose to study at SSA?
I chose to study at SSA because it provides an outstanding education that is accessible to low-income students. The opportunity to study in New York City was important to me and has provided great opportunities for cultural exchange.
Where are you from?
I am from Puerto Rico, where I studied environmental design as an undergraduate student.
What’s the favorite project you’ve worked on at SSA?
One of the studios I most enjoyed was the second-year Comprehensive Studio with Professor Ali Hocek. The prompt was to rethink the concept of a mall next to the High Line. I enjoyed the opportunity of working with a partner and collaborating. This studio gave me the chance to work with consultants and specialists, who came from outside the school and provided expertise on how to convey information related to landscape, MEP, structure, lighting, façade systems, and sustainability. Through this experience, I was able to develop a deeper understanding of my building as a system and how systems can work to reinforce a concept.
What other activities are you involved in?
I have been involved in my local church in the Bronx as a youth mentor since I arrived in New York in 2010. My work with the church encompasses teaching and programming with teenagers. At SSA I have been a teaching assistant for first-year M.Arch students, providing guidance and assistance with digital technologies. I have also had the opportunity to work as an intern for the director of the M.Arch program, Professor Bradley Horn, on commercial and residential projects. I find that New York City is a place full of activities, including open houses, exhibitions, conferences, and visiting buildings. I make every effort to see and do as much as I can!
What is something unexpected that you have learned at SSA?
I really appreciate the discussions generated in our classes on the history of architecture, as they allowed me to generate a critical argument about architecture. I also value the experiences I had working as part of a team. In studio, we’ve worked with landscape architecture students on a public housing proposal for East Harlem. Another semester we collaborated with the urban design students on a proposal for improving the Calumet Region in South Chicago. Furthermore, my courses on computational design and advanced computing have introduced me to parametric design and fabrication, which I am really interested in. All of these experiences have taught me how to think about my own work in new ways.