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Design Intern, Jenny Rodriguez, Asks "Why Not'?

7.20.18 by the Green Hammer Team
  • Jenny Rodriguez, Burning Man

Jenny Rodriguez, Green Hammer’s summer Design Intern, loves making things look and work better. “I like taking things that are a tangled pile of spaghetti and organizing them so they make sense.”

At Green Hammer, one of those piles of spaghetti is our materials database. As one of the early adopters of LEED and the Living Building Challenge, we have been researching and testing innovative green building materials for more than a decade. Information about specific healthy building materials has not historically been cataloged in an easily searchable way, which makes it challenging to pass along information from one team member to the next. After meeting Jenny, we knew she was the right person for the job.

Jenny, who is currently working toward her Master of Architecture from Portland State University, started working at Green Hammer in mid-June. By mid-July, she had created and populated a materials library database that allows staff to quickly and easily search for a product and determine how it ranks for cost, sustainability, ease of installation and other factors. They can find out which projects the product was installed in, and whether or not they have certifications such as Declare or ENERGY STAR.

After the summer is over, Jenny will begin the final year of her master's program. Her thesis, Expanding and Contracting Architecture, will explore ways that architecture can physically adapt to people’s needs. “I’ve moved 11 times in the last 7 years,” she says. “so I am inspired to design buildings that respond to people’s changing needs, such as having a kid or caring for a sick parent, so they can stay rooted in their home as life changes."

She says designing this way will result in stronger communities. “When peoples homes don't meet their changing needs, people are forced to move and leave friends and neighbors and start from scratch in a new space.  When people stay in one place longer they develop deeper bonds with the neighbors and neighborhood, which feeds back into a stronger, more supportive community."

When she’s not working, studying or attending school, Jenny is likely walking through the woods, rock climbing, practicing aerial silks or traveling. A regular at Burning Man, Jenny has firsthand experience designing for a community of endless possibilities. “It’s a place to ask, 'why not'? It’s a playground for the mind.”

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