College of Architecture, Art and Construction

Master of Architecture Co-Directors awarded inaugural LS3P Foundation grant


Andreea Mihalache and David Franco, co-directors of the Master of Architecture (M.Arch) program at Clemson’s School of Architecture, have been awarded an LS3P Foundation’s Design Interventions Grant. They are recipients in the grant’s first cycle ever.

The LS3P Foundation, founded in 2022 by LS3P Associates, LTD, exists to “support leading design thinkers in advancing research, strategies and technologies which promote transformative change, improve human and planetary well-being, increase economic mobility and advance issues of health and social equity across the Southeast.”

Mihalache and Franco proposed the “Addressing Climate Change and Tourism on the Southeastern Barrier Islands” project. The project explores sustainable alternatives to tourist developments on the East Coast Barrier Islands. It also directly engages the coastal communities as stewards of the environment.

“During the last seven years, our students have been very successful in imagining architectural alternatives to respond to climate change in an academic environment,” said Franco. “We wanted to find ways to take advantage of all that collective intelligence in the real work. This grant created the perfect opportunity to do it.”

“It is an honor to be recognized by the LS3P Foundation, which is rooted in this region’s architectural practice. “It is a testament to how the Clemson School of Architecture maintains a productive relationship with the professional world.”

David Franco, Co-Director, Master of Architecture program.

Environmental design excellence

According to Franco, the M.Arch program has addressed issues of climate change and tourism in coastal environments before. In 2022, Franco and Mihalache organized an architecture design studio titled Tourism as an Environmental Disaster in Coastal Environments. Student work from the class went on to win three COTE Ten National awards. The program directors explained that the first course directly informed their proposal and that the grant would allow them and the students to develop some of their earlier intentions further.

“We want to express our gratitude to the LS3P Foundation for this incredible opportunity and for their initiative to strengthen the relationship between academia and practice by funding research with real-life impact,” Mihalache said.

The program directors were one of three schools in the Southeast to receive $40,000 from the Design Interventions Grant. The grant specifically looked for submissions that addressed the built environment, aligned with the Foundation’s mission, increased opportunities for everyone to live their best life possible, had long-term impacts on the local community and were innovative in addressing their specific issue.

Collaboration and discoveries

According to Mihalache, the Foundation is interested in creating collaboration between the grant winners.

“To make a difference, it is critical to not operate in isolation. Instead, create and maintain an active network of programs and people interested in these issues,” explained Mihalache.

The project the program directors are working on with M.Arch students will unfold between the Spring 2024 semester and the summer semester of 2025.

According to Franco, the research project will open a conversation between Clemson University and underserved coastal communities in the Southeast. He expects that the ideas and research they conduct will produce transformative results in the lives of coastal communities.

For Mihalache, she’s looking forward to the unforeseen discoveries that they will uncover in this process. “We always start from certain premises, make certain assumptions and it is exhilarating to discover the unexpected,” she said.

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