Congratulations to our 2020 graduates! Read the second installment of our series from our 2019 Payette Sho-Ping Chin Memorial Academic Scholar, Michelle Badr.
My reasons for pursuing an M.Arch were not necessarily conventional—sure, I wanted to revisit conceptual design, immerse myself in research, and pursue licensure— but it was also a final test to determine whether or not I wanted to stay in the discipline at all. The disconnect between an inspiring architectural education and the banal tasks that the profession offered were weighing heavily on me, so much so that I decided to return to the academic environment that first fostered my architectural interests, and I am grateful that I did.
At Yale, I realized my definition of architecture was very different from that of others. Was architecture restricted to building buildings? Could it encompass systems-thinking or other forms of spatial problem-solving? Courses outside of studio opened pathways to explore the latter definition, fostering interdisciplinary collaboration, and positioning spatial logic as an architectural skill in and of itself. As my definition started to evolve, so did my understanding of the agency and empowering role of the architect.
I dove into other groups on campus, pursued unique research projects, and sought guidance from mentors to extract answers on what architecture really is and what it could be utilized for. This led to some amazing projects and experiences— rethinking urban identity in Sweden, designing an innovation center in Afghanistan, imagining post-privacy housing in Mexico, dismantling private property in Italy, researching design processes in San Francisco, and curating an exhibition on the subversive use of space at the Yale School of Architecture.
These three years have left me both inspired and equipped to apply architectural thinking beyond the classroom and traditional methods of practice. I am incredibly grateful to Payette and the Architects Foundation for enabling me to cultivate a definition of architecture that breaks boundaries— one which I plan to emulate throughout my career.