Architecture Students to Present at National Conferences

Abena Atiemo and Sydney Garceau
Tuesday, May 16, 2023
Abena Atiemo and Sydney Garceau will present at national architecture conferences in June.

Master of Architecture student Abena Atiemo (left) and undergraduate student Sydney Garceau (right), who graduated this month with a B.A. in Architecture, will both present their research at national conferences in June.

Garceau was invited to present her research paper entitled “Proactive not Reactive: Pandemic-Proof Commercial Architecture” at the 2023 Building Technology Educators Society (BTES) Conference, which takes place in Cosanti, Arizona, June 1-4. COVID-19 was the fourth known respiratory pandemic to affect humans, and public health professionals are pretty sure it won’t be the last. Garceau’s paper explores the roles architecture can play in preparing for and dealing with pandemics.

“This research will provoke an architecture that can reduce the spread of Disease X by analyzing existing architectural responses to respiratory outbreaks, interpreting architectural trends from the four major pandemics, developing a taxonomy of strategies, and proposing new ones for future outbreaks,” she wrote in her abstract.

Sydney Garceau presenting work

The paper was Garceau’s Arts + Architecture Honors Program thesis project.

“I am very excited to represent the Arts + Architecture Honors Program as I am the only undergraduate architecture major within my graduating class in this program,” she said. “I am looking forward to gaining nationwide feedback on my thesis, along with starting conversations about how to further my work at the conference.”

Just days after Garceau presents her research, Atiemo will deliver a paper at the national conference of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). The 2023 AIA Conference on Architecture will take place in San Francisco, June 7-10.

Atiemo’s paper, “Confronting Colonialism, Defining Vernacular in Ghanaian Architecture,” examines the way colonialism changed the Ghanaian architectural landscape. Her presentation is the result of her AIA/UNC Charlotte Traveling Fellowship award from the summer of 2021, which allowed her to travel to Ghana for research. 

“I'm excited and honored to have this opportunity,” said Atiemo, who received her B.A. in Architecture in 2022 and will earn her M.Arch in 2024. “It brings me great pride to be able to integrate my culture into my work, and representing Ghana on such an honorable stage means the world to me. Architecture represents so much in our daily lives and shapes our landscapes to reflect how we live. Exploring what all of it means is a passion I learn from every day.”

a slave traders' castle in Ghana
Elmina Castle, a slave traders' castle in Ghana where enslaved people were held. The castle, erected by the Portuguese in 1482, is now a World Heritage Site.