Grace Aaraj

Profile picture of Grace Aaraj
Visiting Assistant Professor
Fellow in Spatial Justice
City: Eugene
Research Interests: Refugees, Public Space, Streets, Architectural Education, Sustainability

MArch, University of Oregon (Portland), 2014

License en Architecture, Institut des Beaux-Arts, Universite Libanaise, Beirut, 2011

Grace Aaraj is an architect and educator interested in spatial justice as a broad theme overarching topics of accessibility and sustainability.

Her early research focused on rethinking architectural education through public interest design. She is part of the international collaborative research examining adaptive refugee housing under the global justice award at the University of Oregon.

She participated in public policies on creating urban pocket gardens. She was concurrently part of launching the campaign to reopen Beirut’s largest park as a post-war reconciliation public space.

Grace was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to pursue a Master’s degree in architecture from the University of Oregon. She holds a Bachelor of Architecture from Institut des Beaux-Arts in Beirut. Her Master’s thesis studied the shelters of refugees, winning the 3MT Statewide public’s choice award. Her team’s design for a clinic in Jacmel-Haiti won the first prize in the international competition, which was developed and built with the support of Portland-based firms. She is also the recipient of the Japanese Ministry of Education Scholarship to take part in redesigning Nakano-Ku for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. She worked in the Honolulu-based company G70 where she learned from hospitality awarded competitions and built projects the Hawaiian value of righteousness: Pono. 

 

Grace co-founded ArchiBuild, a Beirut-based practice working on a small community and private projects. She delivered workshops for city-dwellers under DIY Cities series during the Venice Biennale course, Amman, and Beirut Design Weeks.

A strong believer in architects being conscious citizens, she served on the Fulbright Scholarship National Selection Committee and as a director of communications for the Fulbright Alumni Association of Lebanon. She is regularly involved with organizations on the mentorship of students on career development and entrepreneurship. 

 

Currently working  on 

A practical user-centered Spatial Justice toolkit: The case study of women refugees “This project aims to design the design prompt by creating one card deck that acts as a toolkit for engaging users in a user-centered approach towards achieving spatial justice. This toolkit can be the first of many, by using the case of woman refugees as a first.  The toolkit will serve as a tool for all designers and architects, whether they are studying or implementing initiatives to help refugees worldwide: from products to furniture, architectural spaces, or services. It is to be used in workshops, or on-site with humanitarian practitioners allowing them to anticipate unsafe situations and preventing them rather than correcting them at later stages.”

 

Research with Youthful Cities (Toronto) on Cultural Index 
 
Camera Cronica, Lebanon Refugees and Urbanization, The Netherlands  
 
Rethinking the interventions in the service of refugees and host communities pp.15-21 
 
Aaraj, G. and Ledbury, A. Curriculum toolkit for a new generation of public interest designers. In  Rethinking Architectural Education: Architecture and Planning Journal (ISSN 2281-1311) pp. 313-329
 
Quarterly newsletters, Director of Communications for Fulbright Alumni Association of Lebanon 
 
Neis, H. and Aaraj, G. Patterns and Streets in a Web of Life. In Second Future of Places Conference on Public Spaces and Placemaking. Stockholm: Ax:son Johnson pp.153-168
 
Publication: Roadmap to Reopening Beirut’s Pine Park commissioned by the City of Beirut for Nahnoo
 
Policy Paper: Youth Economic Forum: 33 Ideas to Modernize Lebanon submitted to Parliament