Portrait by Emily O'Brien
Originally from Barranquilla, Colombia, Hansy Better Barraza draws from culture and local craft to transform traditional expectations of urban spaces. She uses architecture as a tool to confront inequity in the built environment. Since co-founding Studio Luz Architects in Boston, Massachusetts nearly 20 years ago, Hansy Better Barraza has embraced a collaborative design approach rooted in explorations of culture, identity, and community.
Studio Luz’s designs have been widely recognized, receiving international honors including the Architectural Record Design Vanguard Award, a Progressive Architectural Award, multiple AIA Design Excellence Awards, the Architectural League of New York’s Young Architect’s Award and the Chicago Athenaeum’s American Architecture Award. The Boston Business Journal and El Planeta highlighted Barraza as one of 20 Hispanic executives making a difference in Boston.
In 2016 she was awarded a grant from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts to support the research, writing and publishing of her book Where are the Utopian Visionaries? Architecture of Social Exchange . Her book engages in the exchange of ideas, techniques and visions of a more socially just and diverse understanding for the discipline of architecture, where those people historically relegated to silence and invisibility are given real agency. Additionally, in 2010 she co-founded BR+A+CE: Building Research + Architecture + Community Exchange, a 501c3 non-profit dedicated to creating new spaces through community partnerships.
Past professional appointments include serving on the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management (DCAM) Designer Selection Board Panel, and serving as Secretary for the Boston Society of Architects, as a Trustee for the Boston Architectural College, as Commissioner of Education and Research for the Boston Society of Architects and as a member of the Roslindale Village Main Streets (RVMS) Design Committee. Academically, Barraza currently serves on the editorial board for the Critical Productive Journal examining the intersection of architecture, culture and theory. Barraza has held teaching appointments at RISD, Cornell, MIT and Northeastern University. Between 2014 to 2017, she served as the graduate program director at RISD.