|The Thirteenth Annual Berkeley Undergraduate Prize for Architectual Design Excellence 2011|
Joseph Audeh Bio
"When I was six years old, I resisted learning Arabic from my mother, and I kept resisting. It seemed I would never have any use for the esoteric language and, naturally, I preferred running in between the houses and backyards dotted along our residential street in sunny Florida. After all, I was a kid. When I was fourteen years old, I remember sitting in a musty, run-down laboratory classroom, with suspicious jars of specimens soaked in formaldehyde peering down at me from display cabinets along its perimeter. This is the lair of the most bizarre of biologists (the stuff of fear-mongering children's novels), and I swore to myself that the sciences would never interest me. Aren't our passions formed, or un-formed, from a very young age?
My experience shows the opposite: that finely tuned defiance I expressed as a youngster has developed into a real interdisciplinary thirst for knowledge. I always imagined myself studying architecture in college, so my undergraduate focus in Urban Design/Architecture Studies at New York University seems to be a direct product of that desire. Less predictable would be my complete obsession with foreign tongues and places. I'm a Spanish major, too.
I find that the study of how cities perform oscillates between a hodgepodge of subjects. In the analysis of the urban environment, distinct perspectives frequently overlap: it's tough to say that an anthropological, environmental, cultural, or political approach will suffice on its own. And that's why I enjoy drawing connections between them simultaneously. I'm enthralled by megacities and how their physical layout and infrastructure can manifest certain equalities or inequalities in the social realm. Resource use (specifically water) is increasingly important, and the topic of how cities balance demand with responsible environmental practices seems to sneak its way into almost all of my papers and presentations. As an undergraduate design student, I would like to find culturally sensitive and ecological solutions that not only improve quality of life, but also help to register and make relevant our physical environment that we frequently take for granted.
To my mind, my studying abroad in Buenos Aires at the moment and interning for the Institute of Transport and Development Policy, an NGO that deals with urban planning and sustainable transportation, attempts to coordinate a broader set of goals for myself. I'm twenty-one years old, I'd now like to learn Arabic, and I see myself taking a science course next semester. An Arabic-speaking, environmentally-conscious urban designer as a nice ring to it, I think."
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