Miami University Students Win First and Third Place in AIA Ohio Student Design Awards


Backyard Rendering by Julia Bohlen taken from Eviction to Empowerment: Shared Housing in Milwaukee's Inner City.



Written by Jeni Barton

Students from the Department of Architecture and Interior Design at Miami University won first and third place in the 2021 American Institute of Architects (AIA) Ohio Student Design Awards. Senior Julia Bohlen won first place for Eviction to Empowerment: Shared Housing in Milwaukee’s Inner City and Anindita Laz Banti won third place for her graduate thesis project How Vernacular Architecture affects the Global: Lessons from Bangladesh. This marks the third year in a row that a Miami University student has won first place in the competition. 

The AIA Ohio Student Design Awards program focuses on high-quality, innovative design responses. The program allows students to submit school projects completed in the past academic year, including projects created outside of the classroom setting. The 2021 competition received 36 entries from the five architecture schools in Ohio; Miami University, University of Cincinnati, Bowling Green University, Kent State University, and Ohio State University. Awards were presented to first, second, and third place as well as three runner-up designations. 

Julia Bohlen’s submission is a cohousing project in her hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Eviction to Empowerment: Shared Housing in Milwaukee’s Inner City was inspired by Matthew Desmond’s bestseller, Evicted, which is also based in Milwaukee. Bohlen proposed a shared housing project in a neighborhood that experiences particularly high rates of eviction that would provide long-term affordable housing. The design encourages sharing of responsibilities and creates a support system for single mothers and children. Levels of privacy are nested within the space, inspiring meaningful connections and providing a safe and empowering home for those who experience eviction.

“This project was very meaningful to me as it examined significant issues in my city and incorporated thoughtful design, reflecting the way architecture and urban design can address some of the deep issues facing cities. This award is an honor and inspires me to continue learning and working toward important challenges, and it is a testament to the dedication of the faculty,” said Bohlen.

Mary Rogero, Chair of the Department of Architecture and Interior Design, shared “What is fantastic about our first-place win is that Julia Bohlen submitted work that she completed as a third-year student. This is an amazing win considering she competed against many graduate students.”

Anindita Laz Banti’s project, How Vernacular Architecture affects the Global: Lessons from Bangladesh, analyzed existing built forms and she conducted extensive research on the culture of the Remakri people. Vernacular architecture is described as a built environment that is based upon local needs, defined by the availability of particular materials indigenous to its region, and reflects local traditions and cultural practices. “The benefit of vernacular architecture is that they are relatively energy-efficient and sustainable. In the era of rapid technological advancement, there is still much to learn from the cumulative knowledge embedded in traditional building structures,” said Laz Banti.