2017 Urban Edge Award recipient Joyce Hwang investigates adaptive reuse in Milwaukee

Students on site in Milwaukee.

Students explore various aspects of the City of Milwaukee with Urban Edge Award recipients

by Stephanie Bucalo

Published April 21, 2017

Photograph of Joyce Hwang.

UB associate professor of architecture Joyce Hwang

Architecture professor Joyce Hwang is one of six recipients of the 2017 Urban Edge Award from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Architecture and Urban Planning. The recognition put Hwang on site in the City of Milwaukee with UWM students to explore adaptive reuse strategies along the Kinnickinnic River corridor. 

Hwang and fellow Urban Edge award-winner Fionn Byrne of Harvard GSD led a design workshop with UWM students at the start of the semester. Earlier this month, students presented the results of their work at the Urban Edge Award final review in Milwaukee.

Since its inception in 2006, the Urban Edge Award has been given to one outstanding individual who shows excellence in urban design and creates positive changes to the public urban texture. This year, organizers of the award expanded the number of recipients in an effort to facilitate semester-long investigations where students engage with visiting professionals in the field of architecture and design through site studies across the City of Milwaukee. Three charrettes were designed by a pair of award recipients to focus on the 2017 award theme “FROM WASTE TO WONDER: Working with what remains.”

Throughout the semester, 15 projects by students and workshop leaders were developed, all of which were presented at the final review and public symposium earlier this month.

Hwang specializes in architectural practice and research focusing on confronting contemporary ecological conditions through creative means, and incorporates architectural designs that anticipate interactions with ecological influences such as animals, insects and plant life. By integrating non-human habitats into designs for the built environment, Hwang recognizes the natural relationship humans have with non-human species and the need to redefine the meaning of inclusivity in the urban space. As non-human species have tended to be seen as “outsiders”, her work focuses on rethinking their presence in the built environment as active and welcome participants. 

Hwang reflects on the award, “I feel incredibly honored to be invited by UW Milwaukee to be a part of the Urban Edge Award program this year, and to be included in such an esteemed group of recipients.” She continues, “The experience of engaging with students, faculty and co-awardees has been inspiring on many levels - from getting to know the nuances of a post-industrial city (not unlike Buffalo), to feeling energized by the fast, charrette-like pace of the workshops.”

Hwang is an internationally recognized designer. She was recently invited to serve on the 2016 Steedman Prize Jury and the AIA National - Small Projects Awards Jury. Earlier this year she participated in the MIT Architecture Panel on Women in Academia and as a guest speaker at the MORE International Conference on Architecture and Gender. Hwang co-edited the recently released Beyond Patronage: Reconsidering Models of Practice, a publication developed out of a symposium hosted by the School of Architecture and Planning.