Lira Luis Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts
today at 10:36 am
We are delighted to announce that our Leapfrog Project Founder & ALLL Principal Architect, Lira Luis has been elected as Fellow of the prestigious Royal Society of the Encouragement of the Arts, Manufacture and Commerce (RSA) for her prominent contributions to social progress and development that benefit extreme natural disaster survivors within informal settlements.
This is a prestigious award granted to exceptional individuals from across the world. Fellowship is only awarded to those who can demonstrate that they have made significant contributions to social change or progress and development, as well as support the mission of the RSA. Fellows have included well-known names such as the Founding Father of the USA Benjamin Franklin, Marie Curie, Karl Marx, Charles Dickens, Stephen Hawking and Nelson Mandela.
They come from many occupations such as architects, engineers, social entrepreneurs, scientists, community leaders, commercial innovators, artists, journalists, and current notable Fellows include inventor of the World Wide Web Tim Berners-Lee, Judi Dench, Alex James, and Benson Taylor. Being part of the RSA is considered by many as a privileged status, as seen by the post-nominal letters ‘FRSA’ behind its fellows’ names. From the original 11 who met in a London coffee house 260 years ago, to the network of 30,000 (since its founding in 1754) achievers and influencers (as of 2020) it elected as Fellows worldwide, Lira Luis now has access to this valuable network and grants for social-changing projects.
The RSA has had an immense impact on the world that included recording the first use of the word ‘sustainability’ in an environmental context (RSA Journal 1980) and offering rewards for the reduction of smoke emissions (1770), to name a few. “No matter how great our past has been, we believe we can have an even better future, and Lira Luis is now part of that story,” writes RSA Chief Executive Matthew Taylor.
Lira Luis amplifies minority perspectives, connects diverse communities, and capitalizes innovation to bring quality architectural solutions for the benefit of the underserved and vulnerable.
As an architect for the underserved, she uplifts the homeless, displaced, and underserved people globally through deployment of architectural solutions on shoestring budgets — her drive, powered by a devotion inherited from her grandfathers whose World War II heroics earned a Purple Heart and a US Congressional Gold Medal respectively, while her designs defined by principles of organic architecture. Having lived in Taliesin shelters informed her Portable Transient Shelter Pods and MOD House for site-specific needs. Inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright designs, she implemented a revival of his affordable housing solution maximizing modular building methods and minimizing costly materials to convert blighted Atlantic City wards into livable spaces with lots of light. She transformed a deficient historic building to sufficiency fit for occupancy. In her 2016 United Architects of the Philippines Convention Keynote, she stimulated livable space and light discourse with nearly 2,000 audiences reaching 21 Asian heads of state. Numerous newspaper and magazines, speaking invitations worldwide, and her 2015 DANDI award in sustainability reflect her impact.
As an innovator, her cutting-edge technology motivates architects to serve rapidly changing societies. She proliferated her shelter design prototypes online and offline, as replicable livable space architectural solutions for more than 1.3 million homeless nationally and internationally. She pioneered an energy-saving analysis process for passive solar daylighting in the Phoenix Crime Lab, subsequently replicated in other crime labs and an academic complex. Her architecture experiments on cutting-edge biotechnology-based Living Ball uplifts disaster survivors through low-cost, high quality transient structure and light while her Magnetic Levitation architectural solution to help island nations overcome rapidly rising sea levels, inspired another industry to consider it for retail display. Her pioneering transaction-based process workflows streamlined door and window schedule documentation, earning a bank headquarters LEED Gold certification. Her ‘Best Of’ 2011 AIA National Convention session, “How to Leverage Social Technologies for a Sustainable Practice,” persuaded thousands of architects to adopt social media and subsequent novel practice models through co-working including virtual businesses, and led to the 2019 Most Innovative Businesswoman in Diverse Architecture – USA Award.
She connects diverse communities so even a catalytic minority populace can mobilize the underserved with innovative design technologies. She led the 2014 Global Inclusion Reception at AIA Conference on Architecture (replicated at A’15) that spawned local outreach through Apple Store and Philippine Embassy lectures. It motivated her international outreach, Leapfrog From Disaster Symposium that inspired 5 continents. She involves The White House Asian American Pacific Islander Commission, US-Philippines Society, British Consulate General in USA, and Royal Institute of British Architects, to name a few. As commentator on local, national, and international TV, radio, and podcasts, she reached a cumulative and combined million-strong audience. The Global Diversity Collaborative honored her work with the 2016 Diversity Academy Award in the International Category.
These are just some of the qualities that the RSA has based their awarding Lira with the Fellowship upon, after her nomination and subsequent fast-track application.
In receiving her award: “It’s truly an honor and I’m thrilled to be a Fellow of such a prestigious organization recognized worldwide for its impact historically, and continuing to make an impact for the benefit of current and future generations. I look forward to participating in the shaping of change, on social justice and sustainability in a post-Covid-19 world with other Fellows — whose values of being open, optimistic, pioneering, rigorous, and enabling — I admire, share, and am inspired by,” says Lira Luis. Her RSA Fellowship follows her election as Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects on November 15, 2019.