Alexandra Gadawski AIA
Associate, HMFH Architects, Inc.
As the BSA celebrates the 2021 BSA Design Award winners, we are featuring profiles on individuals who served on the 2021 Design Award juries. The awards recognize remarkable achievements in architecture that serve as inspiration for practitioners, and elevate the potential for the positive impact that architecture has on our quality of life.
What interested you in becoming an awards juror?
I am passionate about sustainability and believe that the Awards are an important opportunity to bring attention to buildings that are setting the bar for sustainable design.
What expertise are you excited to bring to this role?
I am focused on designing well-lit spaces that minimize the use of artificial lighting, as well as researching healthy material options. I have a background in energy consumption and voluntary building standards. I am involved with the Illuminating Engineering Society as President of the Boston section, and I am co-chair of the IES Sustainable Lighting Committee. I am also co-chair of the Mindful Materials Architecture & Design Engagement Working Group, which promotes transparency in architectural material libraries.
What do you think is the most important aspect of a successful project?
A successful project considers all aspects of building performance and sustainability, while creating beautiful spaces that are functional and serve the needs of the users.
What does “design excellence” mean to you?
Buildings that have demonstrated high performance and consider sustainability holistically while still being beautiful and functional.
If you could create any Design Awards category—realistic or fantastic—what would it be?
I would love to see sustainability be a core criteria in all building categories rather than a standalone award. Given what we know about the impacts of the built environment, I think all good architecture needs to be sustainable.
What is the most effective step you’ve taken in your work toward a more sustainable built environment?
In order to truly create a more sustainable built environment, we need to carefully consider the full impacts of every product selected. For many years the sustainability focus around lighting has been energy use, and it is important to expand the conversation to include embodied carbon, materials health and life cycle impact. I was involved in launching the Lighting Advocacy Letter, which is hosted on Mindful Materials' website. A number of firms have already signed on in support of the letter, and I am hoping this will be a first step to more holistically sustainable lighting products.