Tags: Alumni,  Graduate Students,  Architecture,  san francisco,  Industry,  housing

Giving Back to the Community

Mary Telling is dedicated to giving her all back to San Francisco. After earning her MA degree from the School of Architecture in 2009, she’s taken multiple steps forward to serve the needs of San Francisco’s underserved populations. Working as project designer for affordable housing projects in the Bay Area, Mary draws inspiration from her experiences living in dynamic urban environments such as Tokyo, Brussels and San Francisco’s Mission District.

“Working in affordable housing in San Francisco has changed the way I think as a designer, because I’m thinking about the experience—how does the tenant feel when they’re walking into the space?” Mary says. “It’s not about me anymore, it’s about the community I serve.”

Planning for Tomorrow Today

Among her many projects, Telling is currently engaged as project architect for 2060 Folsom—a new affordable housing development featuring 127 apartment units for families and transitional-age youth in the Mission District. Located across from a brand new public park now under construction, the development emphasizes opportunities for community building among residents.

Other affordable housing projects Telling is working on are spread around the Bay Area—including a new 147-unit mixed-use development in Hercules and senior housing developments for the Chinatown Community Development Center.

“Academy of Art University was most impactful on my career,” she says. “The school [of Architecture] was extremely responsive and gave us the tools we need to be on the cutting edge of the profession. It provided me an amazing career path.”


Our Faculty

Mimi Sullivan

Mimi Sullivan, Executive Director
School of Architecture

Mimi Sullivan is a registered architect in California and a principal of Saida + Sullivan Design Partners (SSDP), a full-service, award-winning San Francisco architectural firm. At SSDP, Sullivan oversees community outreach, design team coordination, project management, sustainability and construction supervision. She is as passionate about the process of design as she is about the final built structure. Her 28 years of architectural and interior design experience includes extensive work in multifamily, mixed-use, transit-oriented housing as well as commercial, retail and civic building design, and custom single-family homes. Her work in affordable housing has been published in Architectural Record as well as the San Francisco American Institute of Architects magazine Small Firms—Great Projects. She is both an architect and an educator, having taught architectural design, media and process at universities in the U.S. and Japan. She was the founding director of the Graduate Architecture Program at Academy of Art University in San Francisco and led the achievement of the initial National Architecture Accrediting Board accreditation for the university's program in 2007.

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