November 19, 2020

Allison Mendez Profiled by St. Louis Business Journal

We’re excited to share that Allison Mendez is profiled through a new in-depth Q+A from the St. Louis Business Journal about her work, inspirations and interests.

The article shares how Allison “considers herself lucky to have found something she loves to do” as an architect based in our St. Louis office.

Allison knew no architects growing up in a Denver suburb. But the field has enabled her to combine her skills and interests of art, math and social justice, and in 2019 she was nationally recognized by American Institute of Architects with a prestigious Young Architects Award.

The article also shares that Allison has been recently focused on numerous healthcare projects including those with University Health in Kansas City and Mercy Health in St. Louis.

Per the piece, the healthcare work has pleasantly surprised her. “I hadn’t considered it’s reach. Everyone’s been to a hospital. It’s a significant moment in many people’s lives. I find it very enriching to work in.”

Allison’s full profile is available online. Here are additional excerpts from the Q+A.

How does St. Louis’ architecture compare to other cities? 
There’s a lot of respect for the historic buildings in the city. One thing I see as an opportunity and hurdle is how we think of contemporary buildings. We have some beautiful buildings, like the Pulitzer building to the Chipperfield (Saint Louis) Art Museum expansion.

I think we’re struggling with past/present — do we emulate the past or do we embrace the present? You don’t have to live in the past to have robust and beautiful architecture, and St. Louis is poised to have all of that together. The counter is that a lot of the beautiful, historic buildings are abandoned and probably won’t make it because they’re not being cared for. It’s an interesting challenge of having these beautiful buildings but not the population to sustain and maintain them.

What do you do to stay motivated and inspired with your work? 
I think art is always a natural connection. Pre-pandemic, if I had some reason to travel for work, I would find an art museum. I also would walk around the city early in the morning where you can see a city wake up and understand how the buildings and cities operate before people are occupying them and then how they adjust to people as they wake up.

Now I just recharge, so I spend an enormous amount of time at Forest Park trying to not think about anything and just observe nature.

What advice do you have for young architects?
Find good mentors. My boss at CannonDesign, David Polzin, is also my mentor. He gave me a lot of autonomy as a younger architect and that really led me to excel. He trusts his team, and as a result we don’t want to let him down. That’s a big part of why I stayed at CannonDesign. When you have that professional alignment with someone, it’s really great.

What do you do outside of work to relax? 
One hobby I started taking seriously again during the pandemic, for my own sanity, is playing guitar. I played it very seriously as a kid up through high school, and then I stopped playing when architecture school started. I started taking lessons with my childhood guitar teacher remotely. It taps into something differently that I can’t get through architecture. That’s more enriching than relaxing. Almost everyday I go for a walk in the Kennedy Forest at Forest Park. I’m a speed walker by nature, but I tell myself to slow down.

Learn more about Allison >