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FIYou: Roberto Rovira


Roberto Rovira lounging at the Sky Lounge in the DM courtyard, a project he helped redisgn. (Photo courtesy of Alejandro Rovira)

Roberto Rovira lounging at the Sky Lounge in the DM courtyard, a project he helped redisgn. (Photo courtesy of Alejandro Rovira)

Name: Roberto Rovira

Hometown:  Guayama, Puerto Rico

Job Title/Department: Associate Professor & Chair, FIU Landscape Architecture

Campus: MMC

In a nutshell:  I am a designer, artist, and all-around evangelist for landscape architecture, a field that has the power to profoundly transform the world around us and make livable places into great places, good cities into great cities, nice spaces into extraordinary spaces that make people feel alive, engaged, and inspired.

Number of years at FIU: 8 ½ years

What do you enjoy most about your job?: Watching students change from individuals looking for the right answers into dedicated thinkers and doers who ask the right questions and fearlessly take on the challenge of answering them.

What do you think students and your fellow faculty/staff should know about your department?: Our program is the only landscape architecture program in the country that focuses on the design, planning, and management of tropical and subtropical regions, where over three billion people currently live and where twice as many are expected to live by the end of the century.  We are a STEM discipline that is unique in the way it combines technology, science, art, and design to research and propose meaningful solutions to problems affecting the built and the natural worlds. We are not gardeners or “landscapers.” We are designers who think broadly about city and environment, and about important issues affecting the meaningful relationship between human beings and the outside world.

Where is your favorite spot on campus? Why?:  The Sky Lounge at the DM Courtyard.  I was honored to be trusted with the redesign of this space and I loved seeing it transform from an underused courtyard into one of the more popular spots on campus where hundreds of students relax under the gentle sway of thousands of air plants overhead and recycled glass underfoot.  We all lead busy and demanding lives as students, faculty, administrators, and staff, and being able to bring a sanctuary like the Sky Lounge to life demonstrates the power of design and landscape architecture to make profound change in our lives.

What is one thing you wish everyone knew about FIU?: We are going to take over the world!

How is FIU “Worlds Ahead”?:  We live in one of the more exciting and diverse cities in the world where our context is as local as it is global and where we have an opportunity to make an impact in addressing important problems affecting our cities, our environment, and our time.

Family snapshot: We are five in our family of three boys–six if you count our sheepdog “Pepita.” Nothing would be possible without my wife Lola, who manages to handle us all and still have room for sanity and laughter.

Word that best describes you: Twentyfourseven.

First paying job: I worked at a pharmacy in my hometown when I was 12 and made $20 a week, which I thought was a fortune!

Favorite TV show: What is TV?  Kidding… When I can, I love watching the BBC’s Sherlock Holmes.

What is playing on your iPod?: Something between El Gran Combo and Miles Davis, Maxwell and Van Morrison.

Your proudest accomplishment: A career that spans an engineering degree, four years as an active duty US Navy Officer, and a life as an artist, educator, and design entrepreneur whose trajectory is still in the making.

What do you do when you are not working at FIU?:  Sketch, write, read, and catch up on my studio work.