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Rachel Madryga

Tell us about where you work, what you do, and what you’re working on right now.
I currently am an architect for NAVFAC NW - Navy Command on the Bangor Kitsap Trident base in Silverdale, Washington. Most of my work is confidential, working closely with the U.S. Navy design architecture team.

Tell us about your favorite or most important project.
Due to the nature of my work, I am not allowed to talk about our projects. But I recently started this March 2021 and love our team and office culture.

Must-have desk snack?
Nespresso and an Etta’s everything bagel

How do you think architecture and design can or should influence the world?
Design and architecture have the power to influence and change the world immensely. As designers we make everyday decisions that impact others on a daily basis. Architecture should keep the ideas of social construct, equity, and opportunity in mind from the beginning to end of a project. Just because something is affordable does not mean design needs to suffer. At the end of the day, design should be as impactful for a free project as for a multimillion-dollar project.

What do you do when you’re not on the clock?
You can always find me in the gym training for my next powerlifting meet. I also enjoy cooking and trying new foods. My dog, Nella, and I enjoy hiking the trails and mountains of Washington. Spending as much time outdoors as possible is a great way to get away from the office.

What was your most memorable course or project you completed as a student?
Chandler Ahrens’ Fabricated Drawings course was my favorite class I have ever taken as a student. The projects were incredible. This class truly allowed design and technology to come together to create unique projects. I really enjoyed his class because it allowed my art undergraduate background to truly thrive without the limitations of architecture/design.

What did you learn as an architecture student that you’d be most lost without?
Graduate school taught me time management skills to a T. I already thought I was pretty good at balancing my time, but being an architect really taught me how to manage time for projects, work, school, and fun. Without these abilities I would not be as successful or able to complete as many tasks as I do daily. A work/life balance is also very important.

Favorite Sam Fox School/WashU memory that you can share with the general public.
One of my favorite memories of Sam Fox was my student involvement with GAC (Graduate Architecture Council). Being a part of this organization was like a second family to me. We really got to know the student body and helped out greatly with orientation for new students. We threw many parties, professional events, and meetings that really allowed us to bond with each other outside of studio.

What advice would you give to our students?
Become involved as much as possible. Sam Fox is your new community and home. Learning to become a self-advocate—to ask for opportunities and really put yourself out there—will get you far academically and set you up for career successes. The worst thing anyone can say to you is “no,” and it does not hurt to just ask. Something I really enjoyed about my time at Sam Fox was the willingness and ability of faculty and staff to listen and implement changes to better the support the success of students.

What is your favorite thing about St. Louis?
Hands down, the Soulard Farmer’s Market! Laumeier Sculpture Park is a close second!

Tell us something we should know about you that we forgot to ask!
My student organizations and involvement: AIAS, NOMAS, GAC (President, 2019-2020; VP of Professional Development, 2018-2019), Graduate Professional Council (GPC) Rep for Sam Fox, WashU Powerlifting Team.

Alumni work

Photo of the side of an old, white building, either partially demolishing or falling apart.

Photo showing a grid of three rows of two photos each, showing various interior spaces.

Fabricated drawing featuring a detailed, spiraling pattern in silver/white with some rich brown and bronze hues.

Fabricated drawing featuring 3D rectangles in bright pinks, oranges, and lilac.