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eli z abeth bair d \ Architectural Designer, Mell Lawrence Architects

This smart and stylish designer took the leap and moved to Austin, where she’s a rising star in the architectural community. Why Austin? I moved to Austin in the fall of 2004, a few months after I graduated from college at the University of Virginia. I remember trying to figure out my next move, and although a lot of my friends were moving to D.C. or New York, everything I had heard about Austin sounded like a better fit for me—a creative culture, laid-back attitude and warmer weather. Plus, I thought UT might be a good place to continue my architecture studies at grad school. I learned about the CMPBS (Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems), which had been at the forefront of the green building movement since its beginning in the 70s. I got an internship there, and my dad helped me make the 11-hour drive with a U-Haul from Memphis, my hometown. Over eight years and one grad school degree later, I’m still here!

elizabeth’s Austin Essentials •

Juiceland (1625 Barton Springs Rd.)—Delicious and healthy! I stop by regularly for a Peachy Green or Originator and Double Rainbow Quinoa. Hotel San Jose Courtyard (1316 South Congress Ave.)— My favorite outdoor patio for a relaxing glass of vino. Chez Nous (510 Neches St.)—Where I like to go when I’m in the mood for a cozy, relaxing and decadent meal. One of the consistently best meals I’ve had in Austin.

What career moment are you most proud of? One of my proudest career moments occurred a couple months ago when our firm received a Texas Society of Architects Design Award for the Pavilion at Cotillion Park in Dallas, a project that my boss, Mell Lawrence, and I designed together. We spent many hours working on this project and at times even had to put up a little bit of a fight for the design to be fully realized as we envisioned, so it felt especially rewarding to have the final product recognized by others in the field. Why has Austin been a good place for you to live and work? The great energy in Austin, support for all things creative and a general open-mindedness to new ideas are some of the things that make it an especially fun and inspiring place to live and work for me. There seems to be a very helpful sprit in this town that is encouraging of entrepreneurs in general but especially entrepreneurial-artist-types. I encountered this a lot when I first started delving into jewelry design—so many more experienced people were willing to share their advice and tips, and there was much more of a supportive ‘more the merrier’ feeling than a competitive feeling, which I find very refreshing! What’s in store for 2013? One personal career goal is to complete my licensing exams in 2013 (we have to take seven grueling tests to become fully registered Architects in addition to a multi-year apprenticeship-type work experience requirement). I also want to keep learning as much as I can and to get my hands in as many different project types as possible. Although our firm has predominately specialized in and been highly recognized for its residential work in the past, we have several exciting non-residential projects on the boards at the moment and I am looking forward to helping see these projects through to fruition.

To view some of Elizabeth’s work with Mell Lawrence Architects, visit and check out her jewelry at

december 2012


December 2012  

For this year’s December People Issue,photographer Matt Rainwaters took portraitsof 20 people, meticulously editing 25pictures ready for pri...

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