Birzeit University Student Wins Berkeley Prize for Architectural Design

Birzeit University engineering student Faiq Mari has won second prize in the Fifteenth Annual Berkeley Undergraduate Prize for Architectural Design Excellence.
Mari is a fifth-year architectural engineering student, whose main interest is adapting private and public buildings in response to the needs of the physically disabled, as he believes in their right to a normal life, one unconstrained by buildings with set architectural designs.
“I was attracted by an ad on the department’s bulletin board,” said Mari, “especially that this year’s competition is dedicated to disabled people, who are my great concern.”
In his essay submitted to the competition (see, Mari narrates several stories about the physically disabled, people he met, pointing out that during the first Palestinian Intifada (uprising), around 20,000 citizens were injured and 3,000 became physically disabled. This has greatly affected Mari’s interests.
Mari focused on developing a modified door threshold, based on classic Palestinian architecture, that allows easy entry and exit for wheelchair users, unlike the fixed thresholds in most buildings.
The Berkeley Prize Competition was initiated in 1998 through a generous gift from Judith Lee Stronach to the Department of Architecture in the College of Environmental Design at the University of California, Berkeley, California.