Changemaker: Karina Ruiz reimagines learning environments to create a more equitable future

Beyond her work with BRIC, Ruiz is an establishing member of the National Organization of Minority Architects Portland Chapter where she supports local creatives and works to enhance underrepresented experiences in the design community.
With empathic design, we can design our way to a better world. When we develop schools, its our objective to make sure that we arent simply going down a LEED list, but that were looking holistically at how this work can support trainees and households financially, socially and environmentally.
Sustainable school style can have major cost savings for schools– but the capability to fund those enhancements in the very first place can be challenging for many communities. I also see more style specialists deepening their understanding of the roles that schools play in our communities.

Picture credit: KLiK Concepts
Invite to the most recent installation in our series of interviews with females who are changing the world of style and development and motivating us every day.
As one of the starting principals at BRIC Architecture in Portland, Karina Ruiz approaches her deal with compassion and understanding for the trainees and households with whom she co-creates discovering environments. Rooted in social equity and environmental sustainability, Ruizs projects empower neighborhoods to produce areas where individuals can not just find out– but flourish. Beyond her work with BRIC, Ruiz is a founding member of the National Organization of Minority Architects Portland Chapter where she works and supports regional creatives to enhance underrepresented experiences in the design community.
Q: Can you explain your work? We chose this name rather than one of our founders names due to the fact that it represents the value of relationships in our work. At BRIC, I work alongside communities to reimagine learning environments so that they can help make the world a more equitable, just and humane location.
Weve created our method to where we find ourselves now– and its no accident we are seeing numerous social and environmental inequities. I believe schools have the power to alter societies and lives, one generation at a time. With empathic design, we can create our method to a much better world. And through intentional design, we can provide a voice and empower marginalized neighborhoods to co-create schools that will have a deep impact on future generations.
Image credit: KLiK Concepts
Q: Why is sustainability main to your profession? When we design schools, its our mission to ensure that we arent just going down a LEED list, but that were looking holistically at how this work can support trainees and households financially, socially and ecologically.
When I was visiting trainees and their families through the newly-opened Trillium Creek Primary School, I keep in mind students mentioning sustainable features to their moms and dads– such as the natural resource meters and the natural ventilation indications– and how they could carry out comparable, basic changes in the house to be more sustainable.
When I think about sustainability, I think about how we deal with each other. I think about how we work together to make our profession and our company sustainable.
In neighborhoods with lower socioeconomic levels, it can be more difficult to pass bonds to enhance schools. Sustainable school design can have significant cost savings for schools– but the capability to money those enhancements in the very first place can be challenging for lots of neighborhoods.
Image credit: KLiK Concepts
Q: What modifications have you seen, or do you anticipate to see, in your industry as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic? I have been appreciative and in wonder of the way schools have actually had to adapt. The pandemic has been a huge disrupter in making things take place that we didnt believe were possible before the lockdown.
I also see more design professionals deepening their understanding of the roles that schools play in our communities. From a design perspective, we require to focus on continuing to utilize the schoolhouse as a social adapter and a safety web for families.
While this was prior to the pandemic, I still remember when I went to Rosa Parks Elementary School after it had opened and heard parents in the Family Resource Center we had actually developed for them sharing how important it was to learn alongside their kids. The pandemic has only restored my realization of the power our work has in affecting the entire child, the whole household and the entire community.
Image credit: Josh Partee
Q: What delights you most about the future of your work? More so than at any other time in my profession, were at an inflection point. We can go back to how things were or select to take the lessons weve found out in the last year (and years before that) to co-create a much better world.
I am thrilled to see architects believing differently about the procedures we use, the people we promote for, and the resources we take advantage of to pull the “arc of the moral universe” more acutely towards justice. We require to reconsider whatever we understand about style to make our vision of the world a reality.
There is need on all of us, but particularly on women to balance your family and career. If what you enjoy doesnt exist, develop it– thats what we did at BRIC. I also believe its important to discover your voice and discover mentors.
Picture credit: Wayne Paige

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