Hansy Better Barraza

Hansy Better Barraza joined the Architecture department at RISD in 2002, where she offers an intense focus on design methods that embrace social responsibility. Born in Barranquilla, Colombia, Barraza received a BArch from Cornell University and an MAUD in Urban Design from the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Her research is on making design more accessible and equitable through new forms of practice. She was a recipient of a grant from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts to support her research and book, Where are the Utopian Visionaries? Architecture of Social Exchange recently released by Periscope Publishing Ltd. and distributed worldwide by Prestel Publishing. In 2011, she cofounded BR+A+CE: Building Research + Architecture + Community Exchange, a 501c3 non-profit corporation dedicated to creating new community spaces.

Barraza is currently on the editorial board for the Critical Productive Journal examining the intersection of architecture, culture and theory. Prior to joining the faculty at RISD, she was a Visiting Critic at Cornell University, a Lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and at Northeastern University. She has been an invited critic and lecturer at Harvard University, Yale, Columbia University, Northeastern University and many other institutions around the country.

As a practicing architect, Barraza is a Registered Architect and a LEED Accredited Professional. Studio Luz Architects, the Boston firm she cofounded with Anthony Piermarini in 2002, has been widely recognized, receiving international honors including the Architectural Record Design Vanguard Award, a Progressive Architectural Award, four AIA Design Excellence Awards and the prestigious Architectural League of New York’s Young Architect’s Award. The firm’s approach is to find inspiration in popular culture, promote local craft, invest in innovative concepts, and think through abstraction to create something unexpected and refreshing.

Past professional appointments include serving on the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management (DCAM) Designer Selection Board Panel, and serving as Secretary for the Boston Society of Architects, as a Trustee for the Boston Architectural College, as Commissioner of Education and Research for the Boston Society of Architects and as a member of the Roslindale Village Main Streets (RVMS) Design Committee.

Academic research/areas of interest

  • Architecture
  • Housing
  • Humanitarian Design
  • Representation and Architecture
  • Fabrication
  • Spatial Practices
  • The Everyday
  • Vernacular Typology Studies
  • Design Research
  • Design Theory
  • Design, Ethics, and Responsibility
  • Participatory Design
  • Sustainability
  • Urban Planning

  • MAUD, Harvard University
  • BARC, Cornell University


  • ARCH-21ST-05 Advanced Studio
  • ARCH-2198-03 Thesis Project
  • ARCH-2142-04 Architectural Analysis
  • ARCH-2197-01 Thesis Research
  • ARCH-2196-03 Thesis Sem: Navigating The Creative Process
  • ARCH-8965-01 Collaborative Study
  • NMSE-8965-02 Collaborative Study


Apparel Design Architecture Ceramics Digital + Media Experimental and Foundation Studies Film / Animation / Video Furniture Design Glass Graduate Studies Graphic Design History of Art + Visual Culture History, Philosophy + the Social Sciences Illustration Industrial Design Interior Architecture Jewelry + Metalsmithing Landscape Architecture Literary Arts + Studies Painting Photography Printmaking Sculpture Teaching + Learning in Art + Design Textiles