Wahlgren Elected National President of AIAS

Wahlgren Elected National President of AIAS

Sarah Wahlgren, a Fifth Year thesis student in interior architecture, has been elected the 2016–2017 National President of the American Institute of Architecture Students. She is currently the AIAS South Quad Director. As AIAS National President, Wahlgren will be traveling to architecture schools across the country to offer guidance on strengthening their AIAS chapters and spreading the message that student involvement in AIAS can have an important impact on a student’s college experience and career.

Born in Chicago, Wahlgren grew up in Austin, Texas. She has wanted to be an architect since she was in fourth grade and an architectural unit in school required her to design a floor plan for a hypothetical family’s set of needs. “I was completely enthralled by this seemingly real-life puzzle,” says Wahlgren.

Seeing the film Citizen Architect, about Rural Studio and Sambo Mockbee, spurred Wahlgren’s interest in Auburn. “I wanted the opportunity to design and build while still in school and loved the idea that good and safe design was something that everyone deserves, she explains. “I scheduled a tour of the university and the architecture department and knew right away that Auburn was where I was meant to be.”

She became involved with AIAS as a way to fit in and connect with people at Auburn. As a homesick freshman, she had an opportunity to go back to Texas and see her family while attending an AIAS South Quad Conference. The conference also gave her an opportunity to meet students from across the country and be involved in design charettes, workshops and hear inspiring keynote lectures.

“’Networking’ doesn’t even begin to describe the impact that AIAS membership and conference attendance has had on my college experience,” Wahlgren says. “Since that conference in fall of 2011, I’ve stayed passionate about the power of the AIAS community to benefit the way students work, connect and succeed in architecture school.”

Wahlgren is currently studying at APLA’s Urban Studio in Birmingham. She and 11 other students are working in small groups to analyze downtown Birmingham’s Innovation District north of Railroad Park. Studying the existing conditions in regards to walkability, usage, and street design, their goal is to propose a walkable network and urban design plan. Individual thesis proposals will be buildings in this district with a program derived from their research. The goal is to enrich and develop the existing downtown network.

After graduation and her 2016–2017 term as AIAS National President is completed, Wahlgren is looking forward to getting a position at an architecture firm to pursue licensure and to continue serving as an advocate for sustainable and equitable opportunities along with great design for all.