What would a sustainable city look like? The answer to this question requires an interdisciplinary approach, one that takes into account urban design, architecture, city planning, and knowledge of sustainable systems. Madeeha Ayub, a Master of Urban Design student at Taubman College, is looking for answers as a recipient of a 2020 Dow Sustainability Fellowship. Through the program, she’s working with communities in the United States and Canada to understand the needs of the cities of the future.
“The making of a sustainable city is one of the most challenging conundrums faced by urbanists today,” said Ayub. Through the Dow Fellowship, she will work with the Bay Area Community Foundation in Bay City, Michigan, and Huron Pines, a nonprofit dedicated to conserving and restoring Northern Michigan’s natural resources to ensure healthy water, protected places, and vibrant communities. Ayub is working on a proposal for Huron Forever Communities that incorporates sustainable grey and green infrastructure. “In the broad domain of urban design, I believe in a need for sustainable urban systems, integrative in their approach to increase resilient social inclusion,” Ayub said.
Ayub is one of six Taubman College students who were awarded Dow Sustainability Fellowships for this year. Others are Clare Kucera (urban and regional planning/School for Environment and Sustainability), Jamie Lee (architecture), Rosanna Ren (urban and regional planning/School for Environment and Sustainability), Nicole Rusk (architecture), and Ph.D. candidate Deok-Oh Woo (architecture).
The Dow Sustainability Fellows Program supports U-M graduate students and scholars in their efforts to create sustainable solutions to pressing issues in various areas of study. The fellows engage in interdisciplinary, actionable, and meaningful work, tackling problems on a local, national, and global scale. Each fellow receives a $20,000 stipend and participates in collaborative activities and a team project.
Taubman College’s fellows have research interests spanning a variety of areas, but all are united by an interest in the overlap between sustainability, architecture, planning, and design.
Like Ayub, Kucera will be working with Huron Pines on a project that has implications for both American and Canadian cities. She will be developing a plan for nature-based stormwater infrastructure in Lake Huron coastal communities. “What I enjoy most about this opportunity is collaborating on an interdisciplinary team,” Kucera said. “I get valuable career experience in environmental planning and restoration ecology and learn from a diversity of individuals whose academic backgrounds are very different from mine. This experience will significantly impact my work by allowing me full rein and creativity in developing innovative sustainability solutions while improving my communication skills in team settings and client relations.”
Rusk, whose area of focus is the intersection of sustainable design and social justice, said she is looking forward to applying her studies in Detroit as part of the fellowship. “Working with a nonprofit in the Detroit area, our interdisciplinary team aims to provide the client with net-zero solutions centered on social equity and justice,” said Rusk, a Master of Architecture student. She has focused her studies on the role of sustainability in architecture, particularly in Net Zero and Passive House design methods, and “couldn’t be more excited to contribute this knowledge in an applied project.”
Woo, whose work focuses on performance-based building design and building automation systems, said the fellowship will allow him to explore affordable approaches to automation systems that use artificial intelligence: “Once we build people’s awareness in affordable building automation systems, it will lower barriers to entry to those advanced systems. Being a Dow Sustainability Fellow is a real honor for me. I envision research collaboration with Dow Sustainability Fellows from diverse disciplines.”
Learn more about the Dow Sustainability Fellows here.