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On 5:12 PM by Rachel Preston Prinz in

New Mexico architecture advocate Rachel Preston Prinz invited to attend the White House’s South by South Lawn Festival #SXSL

Rachel Preston Prinz was educated and trained to be an architect, but a diagnosis of macular degeneration at 29 years old altered the course of her career, ultimately taking her away from traditional architecture and towards historic preservation. In her mid-thirties, when she realized that she had a wealth of information about design that she wanted to share freely with the 98% of people and communities who could not afford an architect, she transformed her career to focus on building community engagement around architectural projects. She moved from Vail, Colorado to Taos, New Mexico, and refocused her firm Archinia’s efforts into research and then storytelling about architecture in order to help her projects find funding and expand on their education and outreach efforts.

Rachel gave her first major talk in 2011 at TEDxABQ, where she spoke about New Mexico’s 1000 year tradition of architectural sustainability that doesn’t depend on technology. She gave her second major talk at TEDxAcequiaMadre in Santa Fe, where she opened the conference with a spoken word piece about the importance of the acequias in New Mexico. Continuing in her quest to find better ways of building, Rachel then wrote the book Hacking the Earthship, which takes a critical look at modern design and sustainability through the lens of New Mexico’s legendary Earthships.  Rachel continued working while pursuing her research interests, and has since worked on projects at old Acoma Pueblo and documenting historic properties as well as acequias in the Town of Taos’ Historic District and Taos’ outlier villages.

Rachel trained in 2014 at ABQ’s UPublic to learn to make public television, pursuing her hope to bring video content to her clients, which inspired her to start filming her dream public television show Built for Life Southwest. She and some friends began filming in 2015, to tell the 1000 year story of New Mexico’s architecture, from Native American to modern. Filming thus far has included La Posada Hotel in Winslow Arizona, Albuquerque’s Los Poblanos Inn and Historic Farm, Farm and Table Restaurant, The Moon Lodge in Taos, and Acoma Pueblo’s Sky City Cultural Center. Film from the 8 minute segment on Acoma was so inspiring to Rachel and her friend Suzenne Seradwyn, who was volunteering to help her realize her dream, that they edited it into a 30 minute documentary about Acoma's architecture called Emergence: SkyCity Cultural Center which will have its world premier in Toronto’s community-impact film festival on October 14 and will show at Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in November.

Rachel recently started the non-profit Architecture ForEveryBody (A4E) and procured it’s fiscal sponsorship with the Rio Grande Community Development Corporation in Albuquerque. The mission of Architecture for Everybody is to provide quality and free architectural design and preservation education for communities in New Mexico that need help and don’t know where to start. Rachel hopes to build a coalition of architects, designers, preservationists, and builders to provide free online content that can help our communities to harness what is good about the community’s architecture and move away from what hurts them or increases the costs of maintenance or utilities. The education program also hopes to help aging and differently abled New Mexicans to find ways of accommodating changes to their abilities by providing ADA ramp designs as well as simple rules of thumb for modifications like adding grab bars to bathrooms. 

Built for Life, which will serve as the outreach arm of Architecture for EveryBody, has been on hiatus while the documentary was edited, but now A4E is working to partner with local College and University film programs to help build quality programming content while offering local students an opportunity to build their resumes working on a real show. In her words, “I love it when everybody wins! I want to help young New Mexicans to achieve their dreams and I need people who want to help me tell the stories of our architecture.” *Architecture for EveryBody is seeking foundation, grant, and private support to help pay for the filming and production of the television series, as well as to hire staff so that the architectural education portal can be built. Donations can be sent to Rio Grande Community Development Foundation with the memo Architecture for EveryBody.

Because of her work on behalf of New Mexico’s communities, this year, Rachel was named one of 30 “Women of Influence” by ABQ Business First Magazine, to the “Emerging Social Sector Leaders” cohort at the Santa Fe Community Foundation, and she was just invited to represent young New Mexican leaders working in film, television, and music at the White House's South by South Lawn Festival.

President Barack Obama is set to host the first South by South Lawn—a White House festival of ideas, art and action—in early October, and Rachel Preston Prinz was selected out of thousands of nominations to attend. Rachel will be joining other movers and shakers to take on Obama’s challenge to build towards an America that is more tolerant, fair, and full of opportunities.
South by South Lawn is:
Interactive: Panel discussions throughout the day will explore topics like how to make change stick with organizers who are having an impact, as well as a discussion with influencers who are using their platforms to bring about positive change. Interactive booths will encourage attendees to engage with and learn about new technologies and innovations. 
Film: The film portion features the 3rd Annual White House Student Film Festival in association with its founding partner, the American Film Institute. Students in grades K-12 submitted more than 700 short films round this year’s theme, The World I Want to Live In. The submissions are inspiring and we’re excited to share official selections and honor young filmmakers as part of this event 
Music: Musical performances will include well-known and emerging artists who are using their music to inspire audiences.

Emergence: Sky City Cultural Center     


Architecture for Everybody

Built For Life Southwest TV show