Charting her course, Emi Day '09

Emi Day

We live in a digital era in which people spend large portions of their days connected to the Internet via computers, phones, tablets, watches, smart speakers, security systems and more.

Architect Emi Day D+EA ’09 explains that this digital world is a powerful part of how people experience the spaces where they live and work. In true Human Ecology fashion, she is positioning herself to work at the intersection of two fields – architecture and technology – to make connections between physical spaces and the digital world.

Day’s vision began with a design project in Portland, Oregon when the architecture firm where she worked was hired to help remodel a large public high school to transform the learning environment.

“Most of the kids at the school have their own devices – this is their reality now; it’s a huge part of their life,” said Day, a licensed architect with master’s degrees in architecture and educational leadership. “So, I lobbied for creating a digital experience throughout the school that would engage students and enhance learning.”

The school agreed and Day found a digital experience agency to help with the project pro bono. The school opened this fall to rave reviews and the project inspired Day to expand her career.

Last summer, Day left her role as a project architect and engagement strategist to become a producer at the creative agency Instrument, which builds apps and websites for large brands. “I’m strategizing to move into a hybrid role that will span the digital experience and my architecture background.”

No stranger to charting her own course, after freshman year in the College of Art, Architecture and Planning at Cornell, Day took a year off to help rebuild New Orleans and other Gulf Coast towns after Hurricane Katrina, working with Habitat for Humanity, Hands on New Orleans and the Salvation Army.

“I really invested in helping to rebuild those communities, which gave me a lot of insight into how you design for people,” she said. “I was out there meeting people and kind of putting together my own major.”

When she came back to Cornell, she switched to Design + Environmental Analysis, majoring in Human Factors & Ergonomics. “I knew I wanted to study how space affects people,” she said. She also joined the crew team, which she credits with helping her focus her energy and passions.

After Cornell, Day earned master’s degrees in architecture and educational leadership from the University of Oregon.

Day said her experience at Human Ecology taught her the value of exploring her interests to build a fulfilling career. “HumEc was such a great home for me. Through it all, I’ve learned that you don’t have to follow a straight path because I just followed my heart and I got here.”

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