Rachel Preston Prinz: Architectural Designer + Artist


Rachel Preston Prinz is an architecturally trained artist and designer in New Mexico who works to engage communities in conversations about the Genius Loci, or Spirit of Place. Rachel has been recognized for her evolutionary leadership and research and development of bio-climatic building principles and promoting radically simple sustainable design.

From Rachel:

When I heard about the Thinking Wilderness residency, I realized that it was an opportunity to engage in conversations about what Wilderness is and what it means to people. I was immediately motivated to study whether some theories I had developed about preserving historic sites through applying Department of Interior inspired Visual Resource Management guidelines could also be applied to Wilderness Preservation. And, after taking some time to review them, it became clear that they can be used to preserve wilderness in addition to special and historic sites.

Okay great. My “thinking part” was done. But there was something lingering… an inner knowing, and nudging, that wouldn’t let up. “Something is missing.”

I asked for an extension. I needed to find out what was still pestering me about the Wilderness idea.

I sat with it for 3 whole months.

And that’s when the really exciting stuff happened.

I realized that what was bothering me most that I wanted to come out as an artist. For my own sake. I wanted ART to define this residency for me. Not just my thoughts. It was time.

AND I wanted to use my residency to start engaging others in my field in conversations about how we could use design to solve the problems that threaten the wilderness. I also realized that just about ANY kind of designer could help. I took the idea to several designer girlfriends and got them to sign on.

What was once a crazy idea: “I’ll make color palettes based on some photography I submitted to the campaign and make art we can sell to raise money for the campaign” morphed into what will be a year-long exploration with women designers about how we can use even small design projects to raise awareness of bigger issues. We will make art. We will film and share the making of that art so that more girls will be inspired to get into design (and change the world!). And we will write and blog about what we come up with, the interesting conversations we had, our processes, and our revelations. If we make good art, we will sell it and give proceeds to projects like this that support the preservation of Wilderness.

Because sometimes, everybody can win.

And that is EXACTLY how I want my work to affect the world. I know that now too.
And isn’t that something?

Starting in the spring, look for all our posts on #ThinkingWilderness, #DesignGirls, and how we can make a difference through design at:


DSC05105btonal (Large)Rachel Preston Prinz is an architecturally-trained American designer and artist working in preservation, sustainability, and architectural engagement. Rachel graduated with a Masters of Architecture from Texas A&M in 1998, completed documenting villas and cathedrals in Europe and researching flaws in building systems in various US climates. Rachel specializes in US Southern, Mountain, and Southwest indigenous, vernacular, and modern architecture and landscapes. Rachel promotes the craft of architecture and the Genius Loci, or Spirit of Place. She has given multiple TEDx and Pecha Kucha talks on modern applications of vernacular design and critical regionalism, landscape preservation, pattern languages, and photography and epicanurism. Rachel lectures and leads tours integrating archaeology, architecture, place, culture, and emerging trends in sustainability for professional, academic, and interest groups. Rachel’s design work includes fashion, textiles, jewelry, residences, labyrinths, eco-communities and small sacred spaces. Her art includes painting, digital art, and photography. Learn more here and here.

All landscape photographs on this page and associated with this Thinker are by Rachel Preston Prinz. The bio portrait is by Djouschua Belovarski.

1 thought on “Rachel Preston Prinz: Architectural Designer + Artist

  1. Pingback: 21st Featured Thinker: Rachel Preston Prinz | Thinking Wilderness

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s