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Mary Elizabeth Allen

Mary Elizabeth Allen

Urban Designer

Houston, TX

Education

  • Masters of Architecture and Urban Design from Columbia University
  • Bachelors of Architecture from SUNY Alfred State

Discipline

Mary was drawn to the natural environment at an early age growing up in the foothills of the Adirondacks in Upstate New York. Through her design education, she developed her passion in the built environment and the many systems at play in our urban spaces. The delicate balance of the built and natural environment continues as the driving force in all her work, along with the intersection of storytelling, social equity, and our rural/urban form. She believes that by translating design thinking skills into systemic thinking, designers are uniquely prepared for the biggest design challenge of our time, the climate crisis.

Most recently Mary has been teaching at the University of Buffalo where her focus is preparing the next generation of designers to become active agents of change in a sustainable future. Other recent experiences include working with communities in the Hudson Valley at the research based Hudson Valley Institute and the action based Climate Action Lab. This work focuses on translating complex systemic changes into a cohesive community based change.

Mary holds a Masters of Architecture and Urban Design from Columbia University and a Bachelors of Architecture from SUNY Alfred State. She currently resides in Rochester, New York. When not in the studio, you can find her outside in nature boating, hiking, or just enjoying the plants.

Q&A

What’s your favorite type of community engagement activity?
Letting people play, draw, and explore on maps. There is so much fun had in discovering an understanding of place through someone else’s eyes.

If you could work on a project anywhere in the world where would it be?
I am most fascinated by the regional scale, and I would love to do a project that stretches across the many systems of the Adirondacks in my home state of New York.

If you had a superpower to make a bigger impact on communities/ cities/ or environments what superpower would you have?
Cultivating empathy at a large scale, nothing is more powerful!