Episode 088: Latina Voices in Practice
“Why is it that the largest community of color within the US still makes up such a small percentage of the profession?” ~ACSA Hispanic & Latinx in Architecture
Four leaders in the profession share their diverse perspectives on race, equity, and architecture.
Practice Disrupted is committed to elevating conversations on justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion to teach, empower, and build greater awareness across the industry. Building from prior diversity conversations, this week we learn about Hispanic & Latinx in Architecture.
Venesa Alicea-Chuqui, AIA, NOMA, LEED AP BD+C, WELL AP, an Architect, Educator and Advocate, is Founding Principal of NYVARCH Architecture, a NYC based collaborative Architectural Practice focused on building community and equity through design. With over 15 years of experience designing multi-family sustainable affordable, and supportive housing developments and civic projects, she is committed to working with local communities to develop good design, both sustainable and socially conscious. She’s the Vice Chair of Outreach to the AIA Small Firm Exchange and President of the Architecture Alumni Group of the Alumni Association of the City College of New York, her alma mater (B.Arch ‘05), where she has also taught the Coop Internship and Professional Practice classes. Committed to design justice in the built environment, she’s an active contributor to Dark Matter University, Design as Protest, and a former co-chair to the AIANY Diversity & Inclusion and Emerging New York Architects committees. She is past chair of the AIANY Puerto Rico Resiliency task force, an active member of the AIANY Planning and Urban Design Committee, and a 2019 Fellow of the Association for Community Design.
Siboney Diaz-Sánchez is an affordable housing advocate and the community engagement administrator for the City of San Antonio’s Neighborhood and Housing Services Department. She serves as a NOMA Empowerment Committee Co-Chair, organizes with Design As Protest Planning and Policy Committee, and is proud to teach Community Practice at The Boston Architectural College. In 2021 she joined the Association for Community Design board of directors. Prior to returning to San Antonio Siboney was an Enterprise Rose Fellow and project/design manager at Opportunities Communities in the Boston area working for two non-profit community development corporations, The Neighborhood Developers and Nuestra Comunidad. While in Boston she developed design standards for affordable housing, helped secure funding for a low income housing tax credit housing development, led a community engagement process for a public arts park and served on the Boston Society of Architects board of directors. Siboney insists creative fields are viable vehicles for social change and believes in just redistribution of systemic power through design. She is committed to prioritizing community voices in design processes.
She is a licensed architect in the state of Texas and holds her Bachelor of Architecture from Cornell University.
Vanessa Smith Torres is a Puerto Rican born Architect based in Miami, FL. Vanessa received a Bachelors from Northeastern University and a Master of Architecture from Tulane University. She has worked on award winning projects in various market sectors – from Hospitality to Education. Vanessa is a Project Architect at Perkins&Will and Adjunct Instructor at Florida Atlantic University. Committed to building a more equitable profession, Vanessa has served on the National Organization of Minority Architects Chapter boards in South Florida (SoFloNOMA) and Louisiana (NOMALA). She is the Immediate Past President of SoFloNOMA and currently serves as Chapter Director of AIA Miami and co-chair of the Women in Architecture Committee.
Alicia Ponce is the Founder and Principal of APMonarch, a Chicago based Female and Latina owned Architecture firm.
Under Alicia’s direction, the firm provides architectural services, community engagement and sustainability consulting for projects throughout the Midwest and Mexico. Her expertise and passion to design healthy buildings and equitable communities support many clients in creating architecture that is ambitious, thoughtful and healthy. APMonarch provides these services to a diverse group of sectors that includes Commercial, Higher-Education, Civic, Healthcare, and Non-Profits.
Alicia refers to APMonarch as the pollinator of the built environment designing healthy environments that look good, feel good and perform great. The firm’s promise is to build zero carbon architecture. Demonstrating that promise is Alicia’s recent architecture commission to design Centro Amazing, a civic youth center located in Aguascalientes, Mexico which is to be constructed from rammed earth.
A registered architect in Illinois and Wisconsin, Alicia has over 20 years of architecture and sustainability experience. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and studied at the Ecole d’Architecture in Versailles, France.
Alicia currently serves on the Chicago Landmarks Commission and the United Way Metro Chicago Executive Board. Creator of the award-winning book Latinas in Architecture – raising the 1% one Latina a time, she is the founder and chair of Arquitina, a national non-profit organization with a mission to raise the number of licensed Latina architects in the U.S.
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