September 24, 2019Reading Time: 3 minutes
I have dreamed of becoming an Architect since I was 8 years old. Since I grew up in Puerto Rico, I learned to prepare for possible hurricanes every year. Because of this, I became interested in natural disasters and their mitigation. I graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture from the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico, where I developed a disaster mitigation housing prototype for my final thesis. Then I traveled to Barcelona, Spain to pursue a Master of International Cooperation in Sustainable Emergency Architecture from the Universitat Internacional de Catalunya. My master thesis consisted of developing a disaster mitigation action plan for the informal communities of Puerto Rico. I also collaborated in an article about hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico with several of my professors and alumni from my master’s degree. The article is available by clicking HERE.
I moved to New Jersey with my husband in October 2014 in search of better job opportunities and career growth. It was a difficult decision to leave our family and friends behind. I currently work at CWB Architecture in Manahawkin, NJ. I develop custom residential architecture from preliminary design through construction drawings, coordinate with engineers, and communicate with clients. My interest in natural disasters is nurtured by working at the Jersey Shore and coordinating our residential designs with the flood zone and high wind speed requirements. I am really thankful to be working with great people, and that one of my mentors is a project manager and a woman who I can look up to.
My volunteer and community experiences include Habitat for Humanity of Puerto Rico, where I participated in the construction committee by elaborating design variations for a muti-family residential building, and organized presentations for future applicants as part of the family selection committee. During my master’s degree, I was involved in two academic workshops: the Fondo neighborhood in Barcelona, Spain, and the Rio Das Pedras favela in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In both workshops, we analyzed the mobility and walkability of the neighborhood, performed interviews, created diagrams with the existing conditions, and developed possible solutions and alternatives to improve the mobility and accessibility in security, vehicular, and pedestrian areas. After moving to New Jersey, I also participated in providing free English as a Second Language (ESL) classes to adults in Ocean City, NJ. Being bilingual, I was recognized as a great volunteer to assist students from Mexico, Argentina, and Dominican Republic to improve their English language skills.
One of the biggest challenges that I have faced has been learning the architecture and construction techniques and terminology in English because Spanish is my native language but I always motivate myself to keep learning and growing in my work environment and during my ARE studies to keep moving forward towards reaching my goals. I have completed the AXP and I am currently studying to complete the ARE and become a registered Architect. I was nominated this year for the AIA Jersey Shore Associate of the Year Service Award. Although I was not a recipient of the award, it felt really great to be recognized by my colleagues and was another great achievement on the road to licensure.
By Stacey Ruhle Kliesch, AIA, AIA NJ Advocacy Consultant | Posted in AIA Jersey Shore, Emerging Professionals, EquityInArchitecture, IDP / ARE, Women in Architecture | Tagged: #AIA, #AIAJerseyShore, #AIAJS, #AIANJEPiC, #AssocaiteAIA, #CWB, #ElizabethMRiveraAssociateAIA, #EPiC, #ESL, #HispanicShowcase, #Manahawkin, #PuertoRico, AXP | Comments (0)
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