A4E Founding Director Rachel Preston Prinz named a Woman of Influence by ABQ Business First!


Rachel Preston Prinz is the founding director of Archinia, a preservation and architectural R&D firm. She also works with Barbara Felix Architecture + Design in Santa Fe where she does historic preservation, marketing and projects designed to increase architectural engagement. The author and TEDx speaker is dedicated to helping preserve cultures and traditions around the world through her nonprofit Architecture For EveryBody.

What is your biggest accomplishment so far?
I am the proudest of what all I have accomplished since being diagnosed with a form of macular degeneration that affects young people. When I first found out I was going blind, I became emotionally paralyzed. It took me a LONG time to figure out how to be in my new life. I was training to be an architect when I was diagnosed, finished with my internship and just about to take the exams, and the reality that I would probably never achieve that goal was painful beyond measure. After some healing time, I figured out that I could STILL do architecture, of sorts. I could use all the tips and tricks that I had learned in my career to empower communities with design and preservation knowledge so they could take their old buildings and make them work ... for the community and on their terms. It took me some time to figure out how, but in 2011, I did my first TEDx talk at TEDxABQ, and since then I have achieved more than I ever thought possible in empowering communities across New Mexico, and even the world, to thrive.

What would you say is the biggest obstacle in succeeding/getting ahead in your industry in New Mexico?
I think it's a tie between poverty and antiquated/us-and-them thinking that prevents architects, designers and preservationists from making more of a difference here. 98 percent of people in the U.S. who need architects and preservationists cannot afford them. In New Mexico, those numbers are even higher for the most part. Preservation here is not just about pretty buildings. Our towns and villages are cultural landscapes; they were put where they were so they could utilize the natural resources available to create livable communities. When erosion from ATVs, overgrazing, mismanagement of resources, mining, etc... affects the water quality of our rivers, that affects the water quality of our acequias, which can poison our food and destroys our tree cover. Our buildings don't work because they were designed for a climate that was modulated by the details of the places we created for ourselves when we knew better and didn't just plop down anything anywhere. Money and a stubborn willingness to collaborate are going to be required to tackle these huge issues and really get our communities thriving again.

What is something people may not know about your business?
Many of our projects are collaborations with experts from all over the world. Our next big project has 33 collaborators from every continent except Australia. My passion for the future of our efforts is to raise the money to complete our TV show (a public television show about the 1,000 years of sustainable design techniques used in New Mexico). Completing that will be a milestone in my career.

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