Skip to main content
Architecture Talent Spotlight #06: Sushmita Shekar
June 16, 2021 at 4:00 PM
sushmita shekar skidmore, owings and merrill.png

Sushmita Shekar is an Urban Designer at Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill (SOM) and an Architecture and Urban Design graduate from Columbia University, New York. With a strong background in Architecture and Visual Arts, she is passionate about design’s potential to amplify stakeholder voices and innovate resilient tools for planning, to empower cities and ecosystems to thrive in a world of crisis. Her work and research range from large-scale planning to grassroots and community-focused design to foster social capital in cities. 

Archslate: Tell us a little bit about your background and what made you choose Architecture:

Sushmita Shekar: Growing up, I have always questioned the development of cities largely driven by real estate, short team infrastructural solutions, and the economy. These ideologies of development have failed to address the social, cultural, economic, and environmental challenges. While in pre-university I was a part of a Student Exchange Program in Germany supported by the Robert Bosch Stiftung Foundation to study the carbon footprint of two cities, Bangalore and Munich.

The research revealed that around 35 - 40 percent of the total carbon emission was from the city’s architecture and construction, and this made me realize the relevance of architecture and city design in our daily lives. This actually paved the way for my career path. 

Scheveningen Habor Development conceived at TU Delft

Archslate: What are some of your biggest achievements:

Sushmita Shekar: In the last few years my work alongside various teams has been featured on Architectural Digest magazine, Archinect website, Metropolis magazine, the Architectural League of New York, and various publications and magazines at Columbia University. I was nominated as one of Metropolis's Future 100 designers for the year 2021. In addition, I was a Teaching Assistant at Columbia University, New York, a University rank holder, and a Proactive Student Award winner in my Bachelor of Architecture.

Archslate: What types of projects do you see yourself working on:

Sushmita Shekar: Cities are the best hope for humanity in terms of climate change, social mobility, and bridging our cultural and racial divides. In the future as an Urban Designer, I see myself advocating for communities towards equitable and resilient design.

As architects and urbanists, we can foster powerful agency through collaboration. Co-creating cities with input from communities can strengthen the social capital of cities. Hence I would like to engage in developing innovative tools to bridge the gap between stakeholders, agencies, communities, and designers to foster resilient neighborhoods and cities.

"Cities are the best hope for humanity in terms of climate change, social mobility, and bridging our cultural and racial divides. In the future as an Urban Designer, I see myself advocating for communities towards equitable and resilient design."

Rethinking retail at Hundson Valley radically questions and reimagines new possibilities of retail through multiple lenses of social equity, shared economy, reduced carbon emission, and active street life.

Archslate: How do you describe your design style as an architect:

Sushmita Shekar: My design aptitude is to synthesize the intersections between urban environment, people, and contexts. Pursuing architecture was a tool to understand the micro relations between people, context, and the built environment.

With a background in urban design, I aim to better understand and reflect on the interwoven relationships between society, architecture, urban systems, social justice, and ecology as well as their impact on design.

"With a background in urban design, I aim to better understand and reflect on the interwoven relationships between society, architecture, urban systems, social justice, and ecology as well as their impact on design."

Archslate: Which is your most favorite project in your portfolio and why:

Sushmita Shekar: Rethinking Retail was a project conceived at Columbia University in collaboration with Einat, Chris, and Hatem and has great relevance in the times of the pandemic. The impact of Covid-19 and the global transition from traditional shopping to e-commerce has turned most retail streets and malls which were a  de facto social space for most cities into redundant infrastructure.

As urban designers, through this project, we enquired into how we can shape a new retail module through a social, economic, and carbon-effective lens in an era of the Green New Deal resolution.

Archslate: Where do you see yourself in five years:

Sushmita Shekar: I see myself engaging in a practice that continues to build relationships between urban design and allied fields such as community welfare, economy, and sustainability. I would also like to engage as an academician in varied urban discourses and build on my mentorship abilities.

Renewing Jersey City Brownfields, a project conceived at Columbia GSAPP

Varanasi City Ensemble by Sushmita Shekar

"As architects and urbanists, we can foster powerful agency through collaboration. Co-creating cities with input from communities can strengthen the social capital of cities. Hence I would like to engage in developing innovative tools to bridge the gap between stakeholders, agencies, communities, and designers to foster resilient neighborhoods and cities." - Sushmita Shekar

--

Built by Architects for the Architecture, Landscape, Interior and Urban planning industry, Archslate is proud to create the largest talent marketplace that understands the needs of every firm while removing recruiters, third party agencies and percentage cuts. See how Archslate can help your firm by requesting a demo with us. If you are a candiate become an Archslater here

Read Related

Try Archslate for free