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Spotlight on: Studio Luz’s Effort to Combat Climate Change and Promote Environmental Justice

By Isabella DeLeo

December can be a month of celebrating. And amid the holiday gatherings, the month can also be a time to rest, recharge and look forward to what’s in store for the year ahead. And speaking of looking ahead, the December month marked a happy homecoming for Studio Luz co-founder Hansy Better Barraza, who announced that she will be returning to the Boston Society of Architects after stepping away for a few years, in an exciting new role: she has been re-elected to join the BSA as the Board Director. Congratulations, Hansy! Previously, she was on the BSA Board of Directors and was a Commissioner of Education and Research.

As Board Director, Hansy will be taking on an important role that will give her a public platform to advocate for equity issues facing the built environment in the Boston area, building on the work she’s accomplished with Studio Luz, the non-profit she co-founded BR+A+CE, and as a Professor Emerita at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). In particular, she will advocate for working with more LGBTQ+, M/WBE, and veteran-owned businesses in the Boston community. 

Hansy says, “What I bring to the board is a passionate, responsible voice advocating for ways the BSA can address the needs of small businesses and young entrepreneurs through these challenging times. I plan on contributing to the unique evolving expansion of the BSA’s program and mission with the experience I have gained working with nonprofits, universities and professional settings.”

Since retiring from her decades-long professorship position at RISD in June 2022, Hansy has dedicated herself to her work at Studio Luz as well as bringing her vast teaching and mentorship skills to various educational institutions. Recently, in December 2022, she brought her knowledge to Beaver Country Day School in Chestnut Hill. Hansy was invited to speak at the school by the Upper School Global History Department Head and Social Sciences teacher, Yolanda González, where she provided a space for students to learn about the Boston areas that are most vulnerable to climate change.  Yolanda’s class worked with educational planning tools like Atlascope that explored historic urban maps in Boston that documented how places have changed over time for the school’s Boston 2070 project.

At Studio Luz, we pride ourselves on sustainability and creating innovative solutions that can help combat climate change. Projects such as a recent conceptual vision we created for the neighborhood of Fort Point illustrate our commitment to fighting climate change. For that project, we drew from the speculative board game of “chutes and ladders” to imagine new topographies of Boston’s waterfront. As Studio Luz embarks on 2023, we hope that more projects like this one will be in store.