Architecture + Community: Rachel Preston Prinz

2020 NMAF Award Winner
For devoted individuals who have made a significant effort to stimulate public understanding and appreciation of architecture and in their community.

Preservationist and influencer Rachel Prinz has devoted the past decade of her work in New Mexico to sharing great design with the larger community, especially in Taos, Albuquerque, and Santa Fe.

Rachel Preston Prinz

Prior to arriving in the Land of Enchantment, Rachel worked in high end design, however a deteriorating eye condition (macular degeneration) made it such that she could not work in traditional architecture any longer. Knowing that her time in the profession was limited, Rachel decided to share what she had learned about great design freely with the world so that regular people could be empowered to live more sustainably. To that end, she started writing and speaking about architecture and its role in New Mexico’s 1000 year old sustainable communities. Those articles now number in the dozens, and she’s covered every style of architecture here since pre-Puebloan times. Her design work and/or writing has been included on HGTV, Bravo, NMPBS Colores!, and Canadian PBS; in print in Reader’s Digest, Sunset, Trend, and Inc. magazines. Rachel has given two TEDx talks and three Pecha Kucha talks about design in New Mexico, which led to her being asked to co-host TEDxABQ Women, being named an Emerging Social Sector Leader by the Santa Fe Community Foundation, recognized in the Santa Fe Mayor’s Sustainability Awards, and named a Women of Influence by ABQ Business First Magazine. She also hosted the UNM-Taos Sustainability Institute and has served as a local ambassador, sharing her experience with international architects and preservationists for the Santa Fe Council on International Relations, ABQ’s Global Ties, the Natural Building Colloquium, the Museum Design Summit, the MOIFA Alexander Girard Symposium, and the Terra World Congress.

Professionally, Rachel has documented and worked to preserve some 600 historic buildings, several acequia systems, and historic trails in New Mexico. She has shared the stories of these places in her own blogs as well as for clients and tourism organizations, building a practice in community engagement that helps organizations reach their supporters, fund projects, as well as encouraging visitorship. She has covered events for various historic sites as well as the openings of new buildings, and she has fought to save historic buildings that are threatened, especially when she served as a Preservation Commissioner in Taos. Because of her history building bridges between architecture and the community, filmmakers, event planners, and writers turn to Rachel to help them connect to historic sites around the state.

Due to her desire to share great ideas, Rachel started studying filmmaking when she moved to New Mexico. After she developed some skills, Rachel produced and directed the documentary Emergence: Sky City about Acoma Pueblo, which traveled the world in film festivals and is still being screened in tribal heritage centers. The documentary was turned into an online curriculum for the Acoma schools and, with their permission, was then released for free to every teacher statewide. Rachel is currently working with students in Santa Fe on a new documentary about Bandelier National Monument and the young people from San Ildefonso who are working to restore their ancestral architecture and take that knowledge back to their tribal community. Both films are slated to be included in an upcoming exhibition about Puebloan Architecture at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in 2021/2022, and then around the world with the travelling exhibition thereafter.

Rachel has spoken at numerous events and podcasts for local, state, and national AIA, including the 2019 Women’s Leadership Summit. She regularly speaks on the intersections of architecture, archaeology, natural building, tourism, and creative placemaking for various groups in each of these fields. She also speaks and/or crits for UNM and other colleges and universities.

Rachel speaks and writes extensively about architects and architecture in the state, recently highlighting the work of Indigenous, Hispanic, and modern architects including Alexander Girard, Jon Dick, Beverley Spears, Barbara Felix, SMPC, Tamarah Begay, and others. Rachel curated the a recent issue of The Magazine (in Santa Fe), which highlights stories about women in design, architecture, planning, and preservation in New Mexico. But perhaps most importantly, Rachel has stepped back from writing and speaking to curate a venue for a diversity of architects to lend their voices to the ideas that matter to their communities… future issues of The Magazine will have dedicated space for architects and architectural ideas to be shared.

Rachel was the recipient of the 2019 New Mexico AIA Associate Leadership Award as well as a 2019 New Mexico Women in Film Award.

Rachel is currently leading an effort to change the Historic Preservation Tax Credit rebate period so that regular New Mexicans can take advantage of the credit and save their historic homes and businesses.

A photographer, featured in her first Santa Fe gallery show in 2015, Rachel’s historic architecture Instagram @archiministry has led to the production of multiple upcoming books, including The Seekers’ Guide to New Mexico Spiritual Architecture, due out in January 2021.





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