December 13, 2022

BWBR Awards Second Annual Scholarships for Equitable Design



BWBR recently awarded the firm’s second annual round of scholarships for equitable design. These awards celebrate the achievements and talents of deserving individuals who are furthering BWBR’s mission of supporting equity in design.

Each scholarship includes a $1,000 prize to a student of architecture, graphic design, or interior design, and applicants must submit a sample design project as well as a personal statement. The caliber of submissions was truly remarkable, and the team at BWBR is honored and inspired by their efforts.

Here’s a closer look at the scholarships and this year’s recipients.

Scholarship for Gender Equity in Design

The Scholarship for Gender Equity in Design is awarded to a woman, gender non-conforming, or trans applicant studying architecture, graphic design, or interior design. This year’s recipient is Saylee Bhogle, who is pursuing a Master of Science in Architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Saylee’s application centered on the idea of reconditioning Dharavi, an area of Mumbai that is frequently characterized as one of the world’s largest “slums.” Saylee envisions “incremental development” of Dharavi, addressing critical needs while acknowledging the humanity, economic potential, and social and cultural vibrancy that exists there today.

Saylee Bhogle's master plan design.
Saylee Bhogle’s Master Plan Design

Saylee’s project suggests that equitable architecture can hold both of these truths: there is value in what is, and there is value in making changes to ensure that requirements are met for “people of various socioeconomic statuses, physical abilities, genders, family structures, sexual orientations, and gender expressions.” Saylee writes that her “underlying attitude to this location is a conflicting desire to save it and replace it.” Ultimately, Saylee asserts that “architecture shapes lives” and “must be inclusive since it has significant societal implications.”

Saylee Bhogle's section renderings.
Saylee Bhogle’s Project Renderings

Scholarship for Diversity and Inclusion in Design

The Scholarship for Diversity and Inclusion in Design is awarded to a student who identifies as BIPOC and who is studying architecture, graphic design, or interior design. This year’s recipient is Nicole Niava, who is pursuing a Master of Architecture at Yale University.

Nicole’s application centers on biophilic diversity and the belief that “the built environment can transform one’s life trajectory.” Nicole’s project establishes sustainability standards by introducing timber as the primary building material for affordable housing development in Queens, New York.

Nicole Niava's building section design.
Nicole Niava’s Building Section Design

Nicole “believes in architecture that begins with life: providing accessible housing to nurture families and their culture; creating healthy work environments and recreational spaces to be a magnet for opportunities for all; shaping public spaces and streets to invite communities to flourish.” She writes that “as a black female designer, my approach goes beyond delivering beautiful and functional spaces and aims to respond to diverse communities and their holistic needs, emphasizing healing, wellness, and empowerment.”

Nicole Niava's exploded axonometric design.
Nicole Niava’s Exploded Axonometric Design and Renderings

The Intersection of Equity and Design

Both winning submissions acknowledge and respect the cultural, social, and economic value that exists within their proposed project sites. It’s not about “fixing,” but rather holistically enhancing the built environment in order to further support the diverse needs of the people who call these spaces home. BWBR is honored and humbled to have had a chance to explore these inspired — and inspiring — ideas, as well as the many other impressive applications we received. With thoughtful, talented minds like these emerging in the world of architecture and design, the future is in very good hands.

Congratulations to both Saylee and Nicole, and thank you to all the talented applicants who submitted! Learn more or apply for future awards at

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