Allison Bernett

Niwot, Colorado

Cornell's excellent design tradition certainly attracted me, but its diversity of reputable faculty and talented, passionate students means that there are numerous opportunities to explore other aspects of architecture.

Why did you choose Cornell and AAP?

For me, Cornell offered a well-rounded rigorous education in architecture. Cornell's excellent design tradition certainly attracted me, but its diversity of reputable faculty and talented, passionate students means that there are numerous opportunities to explore other aspects of architecture. I am particularly interested in sustainability and bioinspired design, both of which I have been able to pursue through classes and collaborations with professors. I also appreciate AAP's emphasis on making — a design process I believe is increasingly disregarded in the digital age, yet is essential to understanding form and materiality.

What school(s) did you attend before coming to AAP and what degree(s) did you receive?

I attended Washington University in St. Louis and received a bachelor of arts degree in architecture with a second major in biology.

Did you decide to attend AAP immediately following graduation or did you work for a period of time? If you worked, what did you do?

After graduating from college, I worked for three years in New York City for Terrapin Bright Green, a sustainability consulting and strategic planning firm. Working initially as a research analyst and later as an associate project manager, I developed expertise in sustainable design strategies, biophilic design, and ecological design. I was involved with facilitating environmental charrettes for building and master planning projects, researching and compiling recommended strategies for improving building performance, editing and managing the firm's blog, and writing a publication about sustainable, bioinspired innovations across industries.

What experiences have contributed to your sense of belonging at AAP?

Our M.Arch. class size is small and very diverse, so I've gotten to know everyone very well. Along with taking studio and core classes together, we also get together often outside of school to do things like movie nights, dinners, and even karaoke. I feel a great sense of camaraderie with my classmates — I constantly learn from their diverse experiences and am inspired by their passion and talent for architecture and design.

What do you hope to accomplish during your time at AAP and after graduation?

I came to AAP to both hone my design skills and explore other aspects of architecture and design that I wouldn't get the chance to do outside of academia. I have already found multiple ways at Cornell to explore my passions for sustainable and bioinspired design, whether it's taking electives focused on these topics, doing independent studies with professors, or even integrating this knowledge into my studio projects. I hope that these unique experiences and knowledge gleaned from my time at Cornell will help me become an expert in sustainable, regenerative design that supports ecosystems, the environment, and human health and well-being.