By Nicole Dominguez
Shivani Bhalla hails from a long line of architects, so she always knew that was in her future. She has been practicing for 10 years. She started her journey in India and then came to the United States to complete her master’s at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence. Upon graduating, her architectural journey has taken her from DC, back to India, where she worked on Institutional projects with the United Nations, Ford foundation, etc. before finally settling in the East Bay.
Upon arrival in the East Bay, she was disheartened by the housing deficit. The community is very important to her as she sees housing as a fundamental right, which is no longer the case with the current housing market. Shivani has a deep-seated need to help people. Whether tackling affordable housing projects, adding space to grow families, or for seniors to live happily in a place where they might have moved, her real mission is to bring solutions through her architecture.
That is why Shivani decided to make her specialty multifamily residential. She has always been “fascinated by how you can create a space, and then that becomes someone else’s experience” and finds one of the most interesting parts of her job is that the architect rarely meets the people for whom the space is curated. Creating that space and thinking of others’ experiences is what has kept her in architecture. Her architecture is just that: an experience.
A dream project would be a museum of experience. A space where “it’s not about the building, it’s about the people in the building and how they interact with it.” Her artistry is about connection, and she desires to make a place where people feel less isolated and alone. She cares about the people as much as she cares about the design she creates for them.
Shivani joined the AIA because she believes in its mission of diversity and equity, and being part of a group that cares about people’s lives, saying, “I am grateful to be a part of the AIA where we can discuss these issues and potentially be able to make a difference”. She is on the board of directors and feels privileged to help support the AIAs mission and further those goals.
In 2023 she would like to see more housing options added for people across the US and even in other countries that face this deficit. She would love to do something through architecture to help the housing crisis. As a problem solver and humanitarian, it is entirely possible. She is a foodie, which is impossible not to be in California, and she loves to write reviews about her food and travel experiences on Yelp.