February Professional Member of the Month | Nadia M. Anderson

  1. Where do you work and what is your current role?

I work at Iowa State University, where I have several overlapping roles. I am an Associate Professor in Architecture and Urban Design, teaching seminars, studios, and advising thesis students. My courses typically involve urbanism theory and methods and studios, primarily through the Bridge Studio, engage students in real-world projects such as neighborhood revitalization or sustainable, affordable housing. I also teach in the Master of Urban Design program. I am an Extension Specialist in Community Economic Development, working with Iowa communities on design issues at multiple scales. I’m also the Co-Director of the ISU Community Design Lab where we develop engaged projects dealing with urban agriculture, sustainable neighborhood infrastructures, place-making, and many other topics. All of this work is grounded in engaged partnership with communities where everyone provides valuable knowledge and projects develop through collaboration.

  1. Why did you choose the design/construction field?

I went to college to study international relations. I took an art history survey course with Vincent Scully during my first semester and became fascinated by the ways art and architecture embody and create cultural ideas and values. I took a studio the next year, loved making and drawing, and the rest is history!

  1. What motivates you to further progress in your career?

I continue to be optimistic that architecture can impact the world in positive ways, shaping a more just and resilient future. We can’t do this alone but constantly have to be building partnerships with a wide range of people, questioning how we can best work and adapting to new situations. This is an on-going process that is always fascinating and nothing is better than seeing how one’s work has impacted a student, a colleague, a neighborhood, or a city official. Impact comes as much through process as through final products.

  1. What is the best advice you have received?

To focus my energy on my “space of brilliance” rather than my “space of competence.” Easier said than done – the space of competence is safe while the space of brilliance is challenging, risky!

  1. How has Iowa Women in Architecture influenced you?

I am constantly inspired by how many young architects are involved in iaWia. I’ve been around Iowa long enough to be able to see many former students grow into fantastic professionals who are reshaping architecture as a discipline and are not afraid to ask difficult questions or point out inequities that others may overlook.