Featured SEED Award Winners and Speakers

  • Elaine Morales Diaz and Omar Hakeem, bcWORKSHOP, and Leo Barrera, CDC Brownsville
  • Joy Meek, Wheeler Kearns Architects
  • Andrew Brose, MASS Design Group
  • Donghwan Moon, Mtree Architecture
  • Mary Hardin, College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture, University of Arizona, and John Folan, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Emilie Taylor Welty, Tulane City Center, and Jackson Blalock, Transitional Spaces
elaine Elaine Morales is a Design Associate at buildingcommunityWORKSHOP. She led the Rapid Disaster Recovery Housing Pilot Program (RAPIDO) and works with other housing projects at [bc]. Acting as Chief Advocate of the Rio Grande Valley office; Elaine connects contextual, practical, and analytic research with the offices ongoing programs, and supports policy and community capacity initiatives. Elaine obtained a Bachelor of Environmental Design, a Master of Architecture from the University of Puerto Rico (UPR); and a Master of International Cooperation from the International University of Catalunya (UIC) in Barcelona, Spain. Prior to joining [bc], she participated in the Post-Flood Sports Workshop with the Pac Rim Studio of Architecture for Humanity (AFH) in Brazil, and worked as a research and needs assessment intern for the Risk Reduction and Rehabilitation branch of UN-HABITAT in Kenya.
Leo Barrera bw Jose Leandro Barrera IV is the Construction Administration Supervisor for the Community Development Corporation of Brownsville (CDCB). Responsibilities include: Environmental Officer for all HOME/CDBG Single Family Projects, all procurement and contracting related to the Single Family activities, Administrative oversight of construction projects. CDCB is a multifaceted affordable housing organization devoted to utilizing collaborative partnerships to create sustainable communities across the Rio Grande Valley through quality education, model financing, efficient home design, and superior construction. Previous experience is in Volunteer Management with Rebuilding Together New Orleans and Public Policy with The National Low Income Housing Coalition based in Washington, DC. Leo obtained a Bachelor’s from the University of Texas Pan‐American in 2008 now known as the UT‐RGV. Currently volunteers as a Site Coordinator for a local Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. The VITA site is a partnership between CDCB and the United Way of Southern Cameron County, it’s located at CDCB’s first Multi‐Family Tax Credit Project.
omar hakeem bw Omar Hakeem, AIA, is an Associate Director at buildingcommunityWORKSHOP who is currently working to build [bc]’s Washington D.C. practice by bringing greater social and environmental equality through thoughtful design and planning. During his tenure at [bc], Omar lead the Rio Grande Valley office focusing on a geographical, social cultural frontier by addressing the systemic poverty, health and resilience issue that plague the region. Through these efforts he has completed award winning affordable housing, rapid response disaster housing prototypes, urban bike and pedestrian infrastructure, regional drainage improvements and community based rural planning initiatives. Omar’s passion for design has taken him from the cloud forests of Costa Rica to the ravaged communities of the Gulf Coast and many places in between. His professional practice has also included supporting large arts and cultural projects at Skidmore Owings & Merrill in DC, and prefabricated modular buildings at Alchemy Architects in Minnesota. Originally from Washington, D.C., he received his B.S. of Architecture from SUNY Buffalo as well as a Master of Architecture and a Masters of Science in Sustainability Design from the University of Minnesota in 2009.
Joy Meek bw Joy Meek, AIA, is Principal at Wheeler Kearns Architects. As a project architect at Wheeler Kearns, Joy has worked on a wide range of projects including residential, institutional and adaptive reuse. Joy served as the project architect on the renovation for the Art Institute of Chicago’s Photography Department and Gallery, the original Marwen Arts facility and more recently, the expansion of the Marwen Arts campus which doubles their instructional studio space and provides a new exterior court, entry gallery and reception space.Joy joined Wheeler Kearns Architects in 1998 and became a principal in 2006. She graduated from University of Illinois with a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies with University Honors and graduated from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design with a Masters of Architecture. She has served as a mentor for the Illinois Math and Science Academy’s Student Inquiry and Research Program, and as an adjunct lecturer in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Northwestern University. Joy is a licensed architect in the state of Illinois and a LEED accredited professional.
Andrew Brose bw Andrew Brose has spent his career collaborating with architects and builders in Africa. Working with MASS Design Group he oversaw the design and construction of the Ilima Primary School and Teachers Housing in a remote region of DR Congo. Andrew joined MASS in 2010 after receiving his Bachelors of Architecture from the University of Oregon. Professionally he is constantly seeking new ways to use locally sourced, renewable materials on projects while providing culturally sensitive and context appropriate solutions.
Donghwan Moon bw Donghwan Moon is an architect and urban designer currently working at Foster and Partners in New York. He has been working on various projects including large scale commercial/residential projects and city master plans in United States, China and Korea. He is also actively involved in public interest design, working as a director of architecture at non-profit design group called Mtree. He has been leading the team and completed several community-based and humanitarian projects in Kenya since 2013. He holds a Master of Architecture in Urban Design from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University.
Mary Hardin bw Mary Hardin is Professor and Associate Dean. Mary began teaching in the School of Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin in 1984, and also taught at Arizona State University before joining the University of Arizona faculty in 1997. She specializes in design-build studios and the materials and methods of construction. Her research interests include affordable housing design, energy and water conserving technologies for affordable housing, and the adaptation of rammed earth production methods for low cost housing. She obtained her professional degree at The University of Texas at Austin, and is a registered architect and licensed residential contractor. Professor Hardin has received national awards for teaching, design-build project delivery, affordable housing policy initiatives and collaborative practice, as well as state AIA awards for her project designs.
john folan bw John Folan is the T. David Fitz-Gibbon Professor of Architecture, Director of the Urban Design Build Studio (UDBS), track Chair of the Masters of Urban Design (MUD) Program, and member of the Urban Laboratory faculty at Carnegie Mellon University.  Registered as an Architect since 1995, John has created the Urban Design Build Studio, a rigorous two-semester-plus-summer-sequence of courses. The program allows for the unique community collaboration between PROJECT RE_, Construction Junction, and the Trade Institute of Pittsburgh.  Prior to joining the faculty at Carnegie Mellon University in 2009, John was a tenured Associate Professor at the University of Arizona. While on the faculty at Arizona he was a founding member of the Emerging Materials Technology (EMT) group. He also co-founded and served as an executive board member of the Drachman Design Build Coalition (DDBC); a university affiliated, non-profit, 501(c)3 corporation dedicated to the design and construction of environmentally specific, energy efficient, affordable housing prototypes.
emilie taylor bw Emilie Taylor Welty is a Professor of Practice and Design Build Manager at Tulane City Center, a design center of the Tulane School of Architecture. She has served as project manager for Grow Dat Youth Farm, LOOP’s Gathering Pavilion and the Tulane design-build portions of Parisite Skatepark. Emilie’s creative practice explores the intersection of making and Public Interest Design, and she has a firm in New Orleans with Seth Welty and Dan Etheridge called Colectivo. Emilie Taylor Welty looks at how disaster preparedness works on the ground in New Orleans at Tulane City Center. Their work can be described as a form of radical incrementalism, which here will be told through the lens of their water management work. Across projects the TCC’s efforts to educate, fabricate, and collaborate on stormwater issues are increasing capacity in a flood prone city.
jackson blalock bw Jackson Blalock is a volunteer with Transitional Spaces. Jackson Blalock spent several years coordinating between skateboarders, project partners, and officials at the state and city levels to build Parisite Skatepark. He is currently a Master of Landscape Architecture candidate at the University of Washington (2017).  With education in architecture (Clemson University 2007) and structural welding (ABC-Bayou Chapter 2011), he is interested in wetlands, resource management, music production, and social justice.  While in New Orleans, Jackson also designed and built community-driven urban farms, affordable housing, stormwater management systems, and wetland habitat restorations.