Our Allison Mendez is profiled in a new piece from Architect magazine as part of its AIA Voices series titled, “Drawing to Scale.” A recent recipient of the 2019 AIA Young Architects Award, Allison is a senior associate in our St. Louis office and a leader in the design profession.

Deeply committed to using architecture as a tool to enrich communities and create new opportunities for typically undeserved communities, Allison is a key leader for our Open Hand Studio pro-bono design work and has also served on our NEXT Council to help introduce important new ideas for the firm’s future.

The full AIA Voices piece is available online. Here is a key excerpt:

On how infrastructure design inspires her current work
In graduate school, I stumbled on infrastructure design. At a pivotal moment, an architect described it to me as “the architecture of urban design.” I was hooked on this direct, complex, and yet ordinary typology. My studio projects followed suit: a pump station in New Orleans, a barrier island along the Gulf Coast, and a horizontal grain storage facility on the bank of the Mississippi River. Their urban scale required me to consider people in the broadest and most inclusive way. Their functions required interconnectedness; their complexity required constant iteration. I loved that these typologies seemed undesigned, and appeared to be discoveries borne of innate pragmatism that reveal an understated elegance. But they are carefully and deliberately designed to look that way. This was different than the egocentric architecture I previously studied.

I don’t often work on infrastructure projects, but I do carry those lessons with me. My aesthetic vision for a project is directly tied to an earnest attempt to make discoveries about each project’s unique constraints. This is especially helpful in the complex building typologies I now often work on, including healthcare, scientific research, and municipal facilities.