May Student Member of the Month


Mary Azelborn

Iowa State University

4th Year Architecture Student

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

I decided I wanted to be an architect in fourth grade, when my class did an online personality survey meant to tell us what jobs we would be best suited for. I remember that there was a graphic with a bunch of engineering and design professionals on it, and the architect happened to be standing in the middle, so I chose them. Then I discovered that architecture actually looked pretty cool, and the rest is history. I think it helped that my parents heard I was interested in architecture and started taking me to places like the Biltmore and Colonial Williamsburg!

2. What is the most unusual medium you have used for a model, and what did it represent?

I used papier mâché to represent large, curvilinear ‘wings’ on the base of a building that acted as acoustic shields for the rest of the design.

3. What is the best studio trip you have been on so far?

Definitely going to Venice last fall!  We got to attend the Biennale, and even presented a project in cooperation with several other studio classes. It was an amazing experience.

4. What is the best advice you have received from a professor or mentor?

This is paraphrased, but Mikesch Mueke once told me that architecture is the sort of profession that takes passion. If I’m not sure about it, if I can’t find joy in the designs I’m creating, then I need to take a step back and reevaluate whether architecture is what I want to do with my life. It’s the reason I declared a second major in art history.

5. How has Iowa Women in Architecture influenced you?

As a member of IAWia, I’ve gotten to attend several professional events, including a networking workshop and some of the breakfast socials. Also, as a member of the student group at Iowa State, I’ve gotten access to portfolio reviews and lectures which I wouldn’t have otherwise.


This is a selection of work from my studio classes of the last two years. A full portfolio can be found at