Booth Fellowship Recipient Hrobon Seeks to Understand the Relationship Between Urban Planning and Human Wellbeing

Rachel Hrobon, M.Arch ‘18, has received Taubman College’s 2024 George G. Booth Traveling Fellowship. The Fellowship, which began in 1924, annually provides a $13,000 stipend to recent Taubman College graduates pursuing architectural research that requires international travel.

Hrobon’s proposal titled, “Rethinking the City: Understanding the Relationship Between Urban Planning and Human Wellbeing,” involves travel to Barcelona, Paris, Copenhagen, and Stockholm. In her abstract, she notes that the rapid development of cities and the effects of climate change have caused many nations across the globe to rethink their strategies for building successful urban environments. She plans to document what it means to have a “green city” through a European lens by mapping urban conditions, drawing sectional relationships through cityscapes, photographing existing examples, and writing an analysis of each city.

“These regions have all taken dramatic steps to implement innovative sustainable strategies to combat climate change and improve the quality of life for their inhabitants,” said Hrobon. “Experiencing each of these cities firsthand will allow for a better understanding of the successes of their sustainable practices in everyday life as well as how these concepts can be translated into effective strategies in the United States.”

Hrobon plans to publish her findings as a thorough study of how each city is rethinking urban well-being through various unique strategies. What allows each strategy to successfully function in these cities? How can these methods of sustainability be translated to other cities?

“With the 2030 challenge underway across the world, we have much to learn from one another as sustainability takes a more central role in the design of architecture and urban planning,” said Hrobon.

In naming Hrobon as the 2024 Booth Fellow, Taubman College Alumni Council members on the selection committee described her abstract as thoughtfully measured and clearly stated. They appreciated her specific focus in each of four different European locations: urban planning in Barcelona, air quality in Paris, water management in Copenhagen, and urban renewal for sustainability in Stockholm. They described her deliverable as measurable and translatable and with a possible direct impact on strategies in the United States.

Hrobon is an associate architect with Booth Hansen in Chicago. She works across multiple project types, including academic, cultural centers, multi-family residential, office interiors, and adaptive reuse. Through her work experience, she has cultivated a deep interest in the interplay of architecture and the human experience, and how a human-centered design approach evokes an emotional response to the built environment. She believes good design results from carefully listening to clients to develop solutions that reveal unique architectural identities.