Architecture that makes a difference

Studio alum Priya Iyer wins Pellerin Traveling Fellowship

Student Priya Iyer’s proposal: “DESIGN+MOBILITY+FOOD+COMMUNITY” has earned her the 2011-2012 Earl Pelleren Traveling Fellowship, an honor annually bestowed to one student by the LTU CoAD Alumni Association.  Priya intends to use this opportunity to study two distinct models and cultures that address architecture, mobility, food and com­munity. The first is a Mobile Grocery Store that is being developed and implemented by the John Hopkins Center for American Indian Health in New Mexico, and the second is a Street Cart Initiative for Migrant Hispanic Women undertaken by LaCocina in the Mission District of San Francisco.

iGrow by Priya Iyer

This opportunity allows Priya to study an issue that has been a personal passion of hers: food security and availability in underserved communities.  Working with a group of local activists including Paul Betts, James Ross, and Sharon McWhorter, her project in our studio was a mobile greenhouse she entitled iGrow.  Based upon a tractor trailer bed, iGrow featured a Solyndra module to provide power, rainwater collection for irrigation, natural ventilation, worm composting bins, and multiple growing beds.  By focusing on the growing of salad greens (which she calls the Urban Salad Toolkit), Priya was able to develop and plan an annual growing schedule, accommodating a year-round cycle of planting, growth, and harvesting.  The mobile nature of iGrow allows it to be housed in a central growing location, and then brought into neighborhoods throughout Detroit to distribute food to citizens without easy access to fresh produce.

iGrow at Detroit's Clay School Building

Over the summer of 2011, Priya interned with the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC) and as­sisting on the Green Grocer Project (GGP).   The goals of the GGP – grocery revitalization and fresh food access within the inner city – fall firmly in line with Priya’s own ideals. The information she gathers during her traveling fellowship will be valuable in supporting the work of the DEGC, which has received a federal grant for a pilot farmstead project through the Healthy Urban Food Enterprise Development (HUFED) Center. In another development, Priya has recently joined the staff of the Detroit Collaborative Design Center (DCDC), and will participate in long-term planning initiatives with the Detroit Works project.

In her fellowship proposal, Priya summarized her drive, passion, and experience:

“Motivated to create a measurable difference, I have pursued my study of architecture against all odds. Not afraid of failure, I have survived serious challenges undeterred. A spirit for life, a passion for justice, and a belief in the greater good of mankind have allowed me to regard life experiences as transformative beginnings rather than ends in themselves. Lawrence Technologi­cal University has given me a new beginning along a path that I yearn to be an active part of through the course of my professional life.”

I couldn’t be prouder of Priya.  She truly embodies the spirit of our studio, and firmly believe she will be a force for good in the city of Detroit for years to come.

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One response

  1. Very interesting topic, appreciate it for posting.

    January 20, 2012 at 4:08 am

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