October 26, 2023

University President Peter Kilpatrick and Professor of Architecture Adnan Murshed pose for a photo during the opening of the “Architecture as Freedom” exhibition on October 18. (Courtesy: Jay Malin)

Architecture professor Adnan Murshid is changing the lives of people living in extreme poverty in his native Bangladesh through the buildings he and his team have designed. Brakthe world’s largest non-governmental development organization known for tackling economic inequality through initiatives such as microfinance.

“The task of designing BRAC’s new offices forced us to ask a broader philosophical question: How can we create buildings that offer their primary clients – those living in poor rural communities – the experience of hope?” Murshid said. “We believe that architecture can spatialize the spirit of freedom. This is very important for achieving inclusive and sustainable development.”

A new mentor-curated exhibition of this project opened on October 18 at the Architecture Center, the regional headquarters of the Washington chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA|DC). “Architecture as freedom” Highlights how socially and environmentally conscious designs can enhance human flourishing. The exhibition is free and open to the public until it closes on December 20.

At the exhibition’s opening ceremony, a mentor explained to the crowd of 150 invited guests that everything about the project – from the purpose, design, construction and resulting exhibition – is about supporting sustainable growth to meet the needs and aspirations of the communities served.

When BRAC asked to design the next generation of eight regional offices providing a variety of services to rural communities across the country, Murshid said he wanted to create places that reflected the mission. He creates multi-use spaces where people of different faiths and backgrounds can come together to inspire, collaborate, and transform while receiving services to rise above poverty.

University President Peter Kilpatrick delivered a speech at the meeting in which he praised Project Mentor as an example of The Catholic University of America’s institutional dedication to social justice, human flourishing, environmental stewardship, and global development. He said Murshid made these commitments clear in every aspect of the project, from material sourcing to local involvement in construction.

Among those attending the reception were distinguished speakers: Bangladesh Ambassador to the United States Muhammad Imran, former US actor Jim Moran, biographer of BRAC founder Scott McMillan, director of the Woodrow Wilson Center for South Asia Michael Kugelman, and dean of the School of Architecture and Planning Mark Ferguson. and architecture professor Julio Bermudez. Everyone shared Murshid’s sentiments about their experience of the resilient, entrepreneurial and hard-working spirit of the Bangladeshi people.

The “Architecture as Freedom” exhibition was organized by the School of Architecture and Planning at The Catholic University of America with the Center for Inclusive Architecture and Urbanism (Ci+AU) at BRAC in collaboration with the District Architecture Center for the SIGAL exhibition.