October Professional Member of the Month | Mindy Aust

mindy_bwMindy Aust

Place of work and role:

Substance Architecture, Associate

Our profession is built on the value of relationships and opportunities; how do you prepare for a meeting with a new client?

I research new clients and their potential projects.  I try to find out as much as I can about them… what are their aspirations for their project and what experiences do they bring that will inform the project.  I think one of the best parts of being an Architect is building and maintaining relationships with people that are passionate about their projects.

We often design to improve the health of people and the environment; how do you wind down in the evenings to maintain a balanced lifestyle?

A majority of my evenings are spent at kids practices and events along with board meetings and activities.  The family’s ‘unwinding’ is usually spent reading books (mostly children’s books) and sharing the “best part of our day” which is going around the table and everyone shares something great about their day, this helps us stay connected and spurs more discussion.

In 2016 technology is at our fingertips - what is your favorite app and/or website?

If you mean appetizers, then pot stickers or spinach and artichoke dip are my favorites…but I can’t say that I am a big digital app user.  If the camera qualifies as an ‘app’ it is easily the most heavily used function of my iphone.  I have photos from construction sites and projects intermixed with photos and videos of my kids.

As architects we are versed in community interaction and collaboration; what are you involved in outside the realm of architecture?

I purposefully volunteer in the arts and architecture arenas since that is where my passion lies.  I am currently president of American Institute of Architects Iowa Chapter as well as secretary of the West Des Moines Historical Society.  In the past I have been active in the Des Moines After School Arts Program and Architecture in the Schools, a committee of the Iowa Architectural Foundation.  I am also active in my church, Holy Trinity.

We are Iowa Women in Architecture; who were the female role models that inspired you?

Kate Schwennsen, FAIA, has always been a role model and mentor for me.  If people don’t know who she is, they should…past national president of the AIA and AIA Iowa, past Associate Dean of the College of Design at ISU, current director of the School of Architecture at Clemson University, and passionate advocate for diversity in the profession- the list could go on and on.  Local inspirations are Ann Sobiech Munson, Erin Olson Douglas, Kerry Weig, and Jill Goedken, just to name a few of the great women practicing architecture in Iowa.