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Scene from RISE Expo 2018.

RISE: 2018 Expo. Photo by Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University

Last week, Northeastern University held its annual Research, Innovation and Scholarship Expo. Known as RISE, the event brings together both faculty and student research at one important event. Held in the Cabot Cage each year, there are hundreds of presenters who have been nominated and vetted to be part of the expo, and share their breadth and depth of research, entrepreneurship, and scholarship with guests and judges. At the end of the event, the judges sub­mit their rat­ings and the top award win­ners are then rec­og­nized at an after­noon recep­tion in East Village. Students from CAMD’s School of Architecture have always been well-prepared for RISE; their dedication and time in studio, at critiques, and in developing large scale, thoroughly researched architectural projects have helped them develop the skill set for independent research and innovative thinking. This year, under the leadership and guidance of Ang Li, Assistant Professor, School of Architecture students at both the undergraduate and graduate level were recognized with multiple awards, including one of the Top 4 Rise Awards.

In the Top 4 Rise Award category “Innovation,” Avery Watterworth and Van Vivian Nguyen, both Master of Architecture students, were honored for their project entitled Structural Resilience: Building for Stormwater. As its abstract indicates, this project proposes a prototypical building type designed to mitigate and redistribute storm and flood water through an integrated structural system, seeking to provide a resilient infrastructure for managing the emerging challenges presented by climate change (such as catastrophic storm events and extreme sea level rise). The prototype, drawing inspiration from the formal and biological composition of trees, consists of concrete umbrella columns designed to capture and channel rainwater into surrounding swales, channels, and marshes. The funnel-like structures that make up the roof of the building are specifically designed to capture rainwater and direct it down through the columns into surrounding stormwater channels on site. The project proposes to restore and reinforce natural ecologies within Boston’s Seaport floodplain while at the same time generating new sites for public recreation for Bostonians.

“RISE is a great event and we are really pleased that the School of Architecture was able to showcase just some of the innovation and research that happens here,” said Avery. “I think winning an award like this shows others that what we are designing has practical applications, and everything we do considers the issues that we are facing in the world today. It’s great to have a chance to show our work on a university-wide stage and get more people interested and involved. We are excited that RISE helped us demonstrate how architecture can solve problems and make the city a more livable place. It’s really satisfying to be recognized for a project we put so much effort into, and to be chosen as the ‘Innovation’ winner was an incredible honor.”

RISE is an opportunity to share research and projects with a diverse audience that may not otherwise be aware.

“Attending RISE and earning this award allows our research to be showcased to the larger population of students and faculty at Northeastern University,” added Van. “Most people, when thinking about architecture, would only think of cool buildings and fancy spaces. Our project is an example of how architecture, combined with research that encompasses many different fields of study, can help change the world in a positive way.”

Avery and Van’s project also won an award in RISE’s Humanity and Arts category, which also recognized an undergraduate School of Architecture student, Alya Abourezk. Her project, Forestation Urbanization, addresses the urgent need to the develop appropriate solutions and tactics to combat rising temperatures caused by climate change. Since the current built environment is dominated by asphalted surfaces, which are devastating the possibility of a rich, green urban situation, her project proposes a new urban typology in which trees and vegetation are the primary infrastructural agent. Beginning with a site in East Boston, it can easily be replicated to cities and neighborhoods across the world. As the project abstract puts it, green elements are squeezed in every possible space, flooding the site with trees and covering buildings with vegetation. These elements work not only to combat climate change, but also to create a new dialogue between people and nature in an urban environment.


Last, Master of Architecture student Daniel Sweeney was named a finalist for the graduate Humanity and Arts category, for his project entitled STALLED: A Platform for Temporary Occupancy of Stalled Sites. This strong representation of CAMD at RISE highlights the College’s increasing commitment to forward-thinking research that addresses real-world problems and concerns. Congratulations to everyone who participated in the event, and to our talented School of Architecture students for their award. All winners can be found here.