Michelle Laboy is an Assistant Professor of Architecture, with an Affiliate appointment in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering. Her research and teaching explore interdisciplinary design approaches to engage architecture in the creation of a sustainable and resilient urban landscape, with a particular focus on how buildings’ site and structural strategies enable adaptation to changing climatological, ecological and cultural environments.
Michelle’s design research received grants from Autodesk and the Boston Groundwater Trust to design systems to visualize the varying water table in the city of Boston and the effects of localized recharge strategies in individual building sites in the last decade. As draw-down of groundwater in the urban environment threatens wood foundations of historic buildings, and low stormwater retention in building sites increases the vulnerabilities to urban coastal and riverine ecologies, her work will make the real-time monitoring of groundwater in public space a valuable tool to evaluate impacts and engage the public in implementing solutions. Michelle is Co-PI on a current project titled Future-Use Architecture: Design for Persistent Change, which received the 2017 Latrobe Prize of the AIA College of Fellows. She is part of an interdisciplinary team developing a tool that makes information on sustainability and resilience of the existing urban fabric accessible to homeowners and tenants, funded by the AIA Upjohn Research Initiative. Her recent scholarship has been published in The Plan Journal, Enquiry: the ARCC Journal, and the Journal of Architectural Education.
Michelle has Master degrees in Architecture and Urban Planning from the University of Michigan; and a B.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico. She co-founded FieLDworkshop, a research-based design practice in Boston, to explore how smaller scale design contributes to conditions of urban resilience and sustainability at larger scales. Prior to coming to Northeastern, Michelle worked as a licensed engineer and architectural designer in San Juan, Detroit, Barcelona, Chicago and Cambridge. Her professional experience includes transportation and urban design, building design for commercial, educational and residential projects, and water-sensing installations in public space.