Although MAF scholarship winner Hayden Prillwitz knew in high school that she wanted to become an architect, the prospect of taking (and potentially failing) calculus initially intimidated her. “Instead, I chose the interior design program at Michigan State University,” she said. “During sophomore year, I was accepted into the upper division of the program – an accomplishment I am very proud of.
“As I neared graduation, I wanted to continue to expand my knowledge and career possibilities in the built environment, so I swallowed my fear of failure and enrolled in architecture school to pursue my Master’s degree.” This Fall, Hayden will begin the third and final year of the Master of Architecture program at Kendall College of Art and Design (KCAD) at Ferris State University (FSU).
Hayden is the 2022 recipient of both MAF’s Kenneth Neumann Design Scholarship, as well as the inaugural AIA Mid-Michigan Scholarship. Her very creative portfolio and writing skills were among the reasons cited by the MAF scholarship jury in selecting her for the awards.
In her scholarship application, Hayden also documented her leadership and extracurricular activities. “I served on the AIAS (American Institute of Architects Students) KCAD Chapter board as secretary and vice president, and plan to run for president this upcoming academic year,” she said. “During my time with AIAS, I’ve been able to foster connections between current architecture students and recent graduates through a start-up mentorship program, which I plan to organize again for the second consecutive semester.
“I also organized and facilitated a community service project for a non-profit organization where we partnered with Second Chance Cats of West Michigan to create custom scratchboards and wall-mounted catwalks to create a happier and healthier environment for our furry friends.” Hayden also included examples from her student portfolio (another application requirement), such as conceptual projects from her first two years of graduate school and her undergraduate thesis project (see examples from Hayden’s design portfolio in this article).
“Winning these scholarships made me feel like I am on the right track and succeeding in my career thus far,” Hayden said, “and that someone (MAF) believes in me and the conceptual architecture I’m creating. It also relieves a financial burden so that I’m able to put more time into my studies and my thesis work for the upcoming academic year.”
In what ways does Hayden believe architecture enriches life? “Architecture has this unique way of evoking every kind of emotion on the spectrum, from comfort to paranoia. By itself, architecture is fairly objective when you put it in this box and examine it on its own. However, when you include outside factors of human life and context cohabiting with architecture, it becomes incredibly dynamic.”
She continues, “Architecture needs us just as much as we need it – and I think this duality of human life and architecture creates these experiences that enrich our lives. Even the smallest, most mundane forms of architecture become incredibly necessary for offering any kind of human experience – And I think that’s what makes this profession so unique in its impact on life itself.”
Additionally, what Hayden loves most about architecture is that it is forever evolving and changing. “Architecture trends in very specific ways based on history, culture, technology, and time, which makes it unique no matter where you go. The most interesting aspect is that it can change in both positive and negative ways. Failed architecture, architectural trends, and typologies are most interesting to me because I can see how the architecture evolved from that point of failure and decipher if we (society/the profession) learned something from that experience or not.”
As for her future as an architecture professional, Hayden sees a path where she can positively impact the well-being of others on multiple levels. “Although my background is not in urban planning, I am most interested in urban and commercial design,” she says. “Every piece of architecture has an impact on the urban fabric and its population, but I believe my biggest impact would be accomplished through urban and commercial architecture. I also have always loved academia, and I hope that my future life brings me back to KCAD or another higher education institution to potentially teach other young professionals entering the field.”
Hayden currently works at the firm Pure Architects, in Grand Rapids, and is an Associate Member of AIA Grand Rapids. In addition to being a MAF scholarship recipient, she is also a 2021 and 2022 recipient of the AIA Grand Rapids Scholarship. On October 20, AIA Grand Rapids will host “Imagine Tomorrow – A Toast to Our Future”, its inaugural event to launch the AIA Grand Rapids Scholarship Endowment. The event will be held at the Grand Rapids Art Museum’s Cook Auditorium. For more information about the event, including ticket and sponsorship information, visit https://michiganarchitecturalfoundation.org/events/imagine-tomorrow-a-toast-to-our-future/
“I feel incredibly lucky to be surrounded and supported by such like-minded individuals in this field. Grand Rapids, KCAD, AIA Grand Rapids, and Pure Architects offer a community atmosphere I’ve always dreamed being part of.”
Images, top to bottom: Hayden; a select of Hayden’s work from her design portfolio.