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Born in Barranquilla, Colombia, Hansy Better Barraza offers students an intense focus on design methods that embrace social responsibility. Barraza earned her BArch from Cornell University and MAUD in Urban Design from the Harvard Graduate School of Design. She joined RISD’s faculty in 2002 and served as graduate program director from 2014–17.
Barraza's research focuses on the intersection of design methods, social practices and equity. 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. Barraza is also an editorial board member of Critical Productive Journal, which examines the intersection of architecture, culture and theory. Additionally, in 2007 she co-founded BR+A+CE: Building Research + Architecture + Community Exchange, a 501c3 non-profit dedicated to creating new spaces through community partnerships.
In 2002 Barraza founded Studio Luz Architects in partnership with Anthony Piermarini. Based in Boston, 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.
Outside of RISD and her work as a practicing architect, Barraza has also been a part of numerous professional and academic communities in the field. Past professional appointments include membership in Commonwealth of Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management (DCAM) Designer Selection Board Panel, secretary for the Boston Society of Architects, trustee for the Boston Architectural College, commissioner of Education and Research for the Boston Society of Architects and membership in the Roslindale Village Main Streets (RVMS) Design Committee. She has also been a visiting critic and lecturer at numerous institutions, including Cornell University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, Yale University, Columbia University and Northeastern University.