Jun 30th 2020

Outstanding Student Award Goes to College of Architecture’s Alexis Arias-Betancourt

The American Society of Landscape Architects, Illinois Chapter has named College of Architecture student Alexis Arias-Betancourt (M.ARCH.,M.L.A ’20) as its Outstanding Student for 2020. The organization recognized Arias-Betancourt for his excellence in design and research during his time in the college’s dual Master of Architecture and Master of Landscape Architecture program (M.ARCH./M.L.A.+U), of which he is its third graduate.

“Alexis is a student of significant accomplishment and future promise,” says Ron Henderson, professor and director of the Master of Landscape Architecture + Urbanism program. “He is prepared to contribute in deeply meaningful ways to the profession of landscape architecture over his career.”

As a student in the M.ARCH/M.L.A+U program, Arias-Betancourt collaborated with Visiting Assistant Professor Nilay Mistry to reimagine vacant land in Chicago’s Albany Park neighborhood for sustainable stormwater management and to facilitate economic opportunity. Similarly, Arias-Betancourt worked with Assistant Professor Maria A. Villalobos H. to investigate a 100-year plan to transform the environmentally damaged site of Mexico City's cancelled airport project into one of the world's largest post-industrial botanic gardens.

Arias-Betancourt, notably, was also chosen to work as a graduate researcher on Illinois Institute of Technology’s Driverless City Project, researching the urban design and landscape architecture implications of autonomous transportation.

“It feels great [to receive this award] and of course, it was very unexpected during these uncertain times” says Arias-Betancourt. “Illinois Institute of Technology gave me a great platform to develop my ideas and work on my personal research, having to work with amazing teachers and colleagues helped me to start looking for broader design aspects.”

Though he has completed his master’s program, Arias-Betancourt will return to Illinois Tech in the fall to continue his work with Henderson on the university’s Driverless City Project as a Ph.D. student in the College of Architecture.

“I received the offer from the college to continue my career as a scholar, and it is one of those opportunities that you cannot let go of,” says Arias-Betancourt. “I am excited to continue my formation here and I look forward to continuing to develop my ideas with such a great institution. The school has a great faculty team, and I know it is going to be very resourceful during the next stage of my career.”