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Architecture undergraduate student Ritika Iyer was recently selected as one of Metropolis Future100 undergraduate winners. This award is given to the top 100 architecture and design students from across North America. Iyer, who also just graduated with a B.S. in architecture, chatted with us about her portfolio, her favorite projects and what comes next after graduation. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Can you tell me a bit about the portfolio you submitted to Metropolis?

It’s often said in architecture school that one’s portfolio is a representation of themselves. Northeastern’s architecture program gave me the time and opportunity to find myself and my design style, and it’s so exciting that I was able to create this portfolio as a representation of not only the past five years of my education but also in a design style that emphasizes my love for color and imagination. The portfolio’s running theme is a series of free-flowing blobby shapes, which float around the page playfully, showcasing snapshots of each project.

My representation style is abstract; I love playing with the viewer’s imagination as I put together renderings that contain large swaths of color that imply materiality and context. My color palette covers a range of pastels, having a muted effect on the overall rendering. I love adding whimsical pink suns and moons in renderings, creating an abstract, timeless nature. I enjoy playing around with the effects of different shades and tones of colors to enhance the experience of my architecture. These works were created to not only imply timelessness and encourage interpretation, but also created as my personal brand.

What projects were you most proud of in your portfolio?

One of my most favorite projects thus far is the Prentiss Commons project, where I designed a 14-acre urban intervention just south of Northeastern’s campus. The proposal was for residential bar buildings that were densely packed with “micro-units” to house students and seniors, two demographics who see high turnover in temporary housing situations. The ground floor of each building was to be a part of the public realm to promote intermingling between these populations. Activities which students and seniors typically do individually but could collaborate on were categorized into three program categories: learning, making, and eating. The architecture was formed around fostering social synergies between students and seniors in these three programs to create a vibrant community that united populations that would never otherwise interact.

Another project that I consider important in my design mission to bring people together is the Book Bazaar project. This project challenged me with the idea of providing a vital community amenity to the Chinatown neighborhood of Boston: a public library. I was reminded of the public library in my hometown of Sammamish, a place where I spent countless hours learning. The library had a plaza which had a Farmer’s Market on Wednesday evenings. I remember going to the library while my parents shopped for locally grown fresh groceries in the plaza. This memory was such an important part of my childhood, and I felt it was one that I could replicate given a small park site (the Mary Soo Hoo Park).

The Book Bazaar then took form; the bazaar is housed in a series of thick vertical wood walls that have shelves carved into them. Books and fresh groceries are stored in the shelves, and an intricate roofing structure wraps around the pavilion and onto the ground. Circular seating modules are scattered throughout the site to promote a free-flowing, passive atmosphere to the pavilion while also encouraging “reading circles” among readers that decide to stay a while. The pavilion is catered toward children and teens who like to read, young adults, families, and the elderly who have the responsibility to shop for groceries, and the commuters who walk past the pavilion

What are you excited to work on (either in your co-op or future CAMD classes)?

I’ve been fortunate to have completed two co-op experiences at SCB and RODE Architects and one summer internship at Stantec while at Northeastern. These experiences were each valuable for different reasons. While at SCB, I was a part of six different project teams doing multifamily residential buildings across the United States. At Stantec, I had the opportunity to field-measure condominium units and retail spaces of an active construction site and recorded these for legal documentation for future residents of the condo. At RODE, I helped start the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion effort at the firm by speaking to the Principals at the firm and voicing strategies to increase diversity at the firm, causing the creation of a DEI Committee.

I’m excited to take these experiences with me as I begin my summer internship at Amenta Emma Architects this summer and start my Master of Architecture (M.Arch) degree at Northeastern this Fall. I’m also excited to join Amenta Emma’s diverse team of designers focused on climate-forward academic and community projects, gaining skills in project typologies I have not yet explored.