In this post, we speak with Nerea Feliz. She is a licensed architect in Spain and UK. Before joining UT, Nerea taught at the University at Buffalo's School of Architecture and Planning and practiced with Foster and Partners and Zaha Hadid Architects, among others.
What program(s) are you associated with in the School? How long have you been at the university?
I have been at UT for two years with the Interior Design and Architecture programs.
In what ways have you incorporated diversity and equity in your teaching and research?
I was born and educated in Spain, my career has developed across different countries, mostly in the UK, Spain and the US, and these wide-ranging influences have an effect in my pedagogy and design work.
My Interiors and Society course addresses how spaces are shaped by and reflect different cultural values and social organization. As a design instructor, one of my primary goals is for students to understand the designer's ability to affect people and the environment, which underscores the value and importance of the profession in the community.
As a designer, I recently worked on a unique project to transform a residential space into a Buddhist temple for the Burmese refugee community in Buffalo, NY. The International Institute in Buffalo, a nonprofit organization helping to integrate refugees and other immigrant groups in the community, introduced me to the Burmese community. Fifteen families of the Burmese refugee community collectively purchased a vacant house in Buffalo. They contacted me for design assistance in order to transform the house into a Buddhist temple and residences for three monks.
What does diversity mean to you?
Diversity is about fostering equity and opportunity for all. At the same time, a diverse environment provides a great opportunity to gain a richer and more comprehensive world view by understanding and actively learning from different voices and perspectives.
Can you describe the sense of community at the School?
At the UTSOA, the studio culture is shared across the student body. This provides a unique platform for students to bond with their peers. The students get to know each other deeply and acknowledging differences while creating a strong sense of community.
What are your aspirations –big or small– for the future?
To increase explicit dialog about equity and diversity topics in my courses.