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MERCEDES HARRIS

AIA Associate, LEED Green Associate

A lifelong lover of buildings, Mercedes was in college when she first realized that urban design sought to answer questions that architecture had always posed but never quite articulated. Working on a project in her hometown of Oklahoma City, Mercedes realized that architecture had the potential to be an island of good without improving its neighboring conditions. No matter how sustainable or functional or beautiful the building and its immediately surrounding space would become, she couldn’t help it if the sidewalks weren’t continuous, or the buildings next-door were dilapidated and unlivable.

Mercedes learned that her passion resided not in the exclusive experience but rather the intersection of the public and private realms, i.e, the creation of equitable spaces that listen to the community, respond to the voices that are speaking, and define those that aren’t.

According to Mercedes, these voices have the ability to change the urban space for the better. “We see the built environment as something that’s always been there and always will be. But as a designer, I know that everything is designed, and everything is designable. We may keep things, or we may tear them down. It’s up to our discretion and the discretion of the context, times, and public need.”