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BAC Student & Faculty Member Asli Baran Bridges Cultures Through Design

Jori Bercier

"Time does not exist, it is a device we created to understand how events unfold" states her Architecture thesis project at the BAC. Her thesis was a critique, an exploration and implementation of ideas on memory, time, space and identity. "What if differences are the key to bringing nations together?" This curiosity led Asli to explore time and space and memory. Asli's home country of Turkey became the testing ground for her thesis, "through the identity of a site/architectural experience can one further learn and appreciate the legacy of time and find a contemporary relevance of now." In other words, by understanding the Ottoman Empire to Modern Day Turkey, can individuals/communities and a country establish a transform and define the right path? While bold in its proclamation, it's rooted in the foundations of humanity. Embracing our diversity will only bring unity to the whole.

asli's work

Asli was born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey, and moved to Boston to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Architecture from Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt). After graduating from Mass Art in 2010, Asli started working on Terminal C expansion project at the Logan International Airport which lead her to also work on Terminal E expansion project while she was earning her masters at The Boston Architectural College. "My time at the BAC was a period of tremendous personal growth. It was during my last two years at the BAC, where I began to explore my interest in human behavior and psychology. As I started a project called 10secondsofwho where I interviewed various strangers in different cities and countries over a long period of time, I began to see a pattern; no matter the differences in our cultures, backgrounds, genders and walks of life, we all want to be understood and we all yearn for a connection." she said. This installed a consciousness within her that did not exist as deeply before and has tremendously shaped her perspective towards architecture and design.

After earning her Master of Architecture from the BAC in 2016, Asli enrolled in the BAC's Master of Interior Architecture program. For her Master of Interior Architecture thesis, Asli sought inspiration farther east than her homeland of Turkey. Landlocked between Russia and China, Mongolia is a country primarily made up of nomadic people. Asli's familiarity with the nomadic Mongolian culture, along with her several trips to country, resulted in an observation; that there was no evidence of a cultural center of arts that housed various local, historical, cultural and environmental characteristics of the nation. Asli proceeded with developing a Cultural center of Arts of Ulaanbaatar where nature and architecture merges to feel as one. "We come from nature, it's where humanity was born, and architecture acts as a catalyst for returning back to it". Through her design, Asli captured locals as well as visitors to see Mongolia's history and art in a way that helps them understand contemporary issues within this country embracing its nomadic nature.

Asli's passion for bringing people together and improving lives through design is what led her to take a position at HDR's Boston office in August 2016. Working as an architectural coordinator II, Asli is part of a core team that works together on varied projects. She was part of a team that designed a behavioral health hospital in Florida, working on all phases of the design to construction process. That project is now in construction phase, and Asli's team is now working on the design of a cancer center in Guangzhou, China.

"HDR is a global firm so it is amazing to be able to work on projects with people from all around the world, designing places for various cultures and learning about people more. Architecture projects at HDR have really been about assisting the needs of communities, helping solve problems of clients and being a part of the growth of communities. We're working with clients to respond to various issues and try to solve them through design. Our focus is using design as a device for improving human condition.

She's also teaching a design studio at the BAC, having decided while she was still in school that she wanted to teach as a way of giving back to the design community. She felt that it was important for all and especially young, emerging designers to understand people and environments at their core. Her design studio focuses on observing human behavior and psychology, analyzing public spaces as a way to identify and respond to social issues. She believes in the significance of evoking an emotion through design and emphasizes the human experience in her design studio.