“Change your neighborhood, change the world!”

Graduating with a Master of Architecture, Madelene Dailey continued her professional development in civic-service based consultation by focusing her work on equitable urban planning and sustainable design. Through her final thesis project, Madelene conducted interviews and fieldwork research in Ipala, Guatemala in order to investigate how architecture can be leveraged to support inclusive rural development frameworks and ultimately allow rural and indigenous agricultural settlements to self-navigate crisis response efforts, achieving long-term stability. Additionally, Madelene co-founded “Architecture + Advocacy”, a non-profit student-ran organization that focuses on advocacy work for underrepresented communities. In the future, she hopes to work internationally on humanitarian-driven projects.

Through USC Architecture, Madelene was awarded the Alpha Rho Chi School Medal, Master of Architecture Distinction in Directed Design Research, and the Jaime & Susan Gesundheit Graduate Traveling Fellowship.

Learn more about Madelene’s journey.

Q: Tell us briefly about your background and why you chose your program at USC Architecture.

Working as an Urban Planning consultant for the state of Florida, my area of expertise encapsulates transportation planning, community vision planning, FEMA response support, and project management work for environmental policy compliance / mitigation. Interested in continuing my professional development in civic-service based consultation, I am currently pursuing my Masters in Architecture at USC, where my academic work has focused on equitable urban planning and sustainable design. 

Q: What is the title and short description of your final thesis project?

Nueva Reforma: Rural Healthcare Design in Latin America - My thesis focuses on developing inclusive planning efforts and flood-responsive design strategies for rural and indigenous agricultural settlements impacted by civil conflict and natural disasters. I received the 2023 USC Travel fellowship this past year to conduct field work in rural areas of Guatemala, studying resident access to public health services. Working with the town of Ipala, local residents, and village leaders, I conducted interviews and field research to develop a master plan proposal with the town focused on future planning needs of the community. This proposal incorporates a long-term care facility for older populations, flood-capture reserves for use by the local agricultural colleges, and prefab affordable housing units for the Nueva Reforma community. Merging culturally thoughtful practices with interdisciplinary approaches to sustainable rural planning, this project aims to investigate how architecture can be leveraged as a tool to support inclusive rural development frameworks that allow impacted communities to self-navigate crisis response efforts and achieve long-term stability.

Q: What have been your best experiences during your program?

At USC, I co-founded and served as a director for the nonprofit Architecture + Advocacy. As a registered 501(c)(3), our organization was founded by, and continues to support, programs entirely carried out by architecture students. Focused on advocacy work for underrepresented communities, our programs range from elementary and high school education-based architecture camps, community service events, pro bono design workshops, and professional training/mentorship.

I'm grateful to our student leaders and board members, all of whom share the same vision and dedication to serving the Los Angeles community through the work we do at A+A. Change your neighborhood, change the world!

Q: What are you hoping to pursue after graduation?

I am looking forward to continuing my thesis research as a fellow with the 2024 Habitat for Humanity Shelter & Settlements program.

I hope to one day become a licensed architect, working internationally on humanitarian-driven projects.



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