Hannah-Hunt-MoellerFor Hannah-Hunt Moeller, Associate AIA, architecture is a building block for having a huge impact on the environment and society.

After three-and-a-half years at RNL, now part of Stantec, Moeller is about to launch into the next phase of her career as a graduate student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). There, she’ll apply her background in architecture while studying environment and policy in the urban planning department.

“RNL was great because it was interdisciplinary and had people working on city planning, so I got to work in the civic realm and think about how design plays out on an urban scale,” Moeller said.

In fact, her work at RNL is part of what inspired Moeller to apply design-thinking and problem-solving to environmental issues.

“A design background provides a way of working that’s really solutions-focused. Architects are really driven toward a tangible output,” explained Moeller. “So, whether I am working on a building, or policy or master plan, being driven toward a tangible output for multiples stakeholders will be helpful.”

She cites her recent work on the Denver Water Campus redevelopment for sparking her curiosity and being the catalyst for applying to MIT.

“What’s exciting and challenging is that Denver Water is trying to be very proactive toward water sustainability in the way the campus is developed. They are really taking a leadership role in water conservation methods,” explained Moeller. “It’s been an interesting and personal challenge to see how western water law does or doesn’t work, and it teed me up for pursuing it further.”

While at MIT, Moeller will study resource management, like water in the Western U.S., coupling her design perspective with the technical policy aspects.

Despite her relatively short time working in architecture, Moeller has made a big impact on the profession and on AIA Colorado. She has served on numerous committees and task forces, helping AIA Colorado to shape its advocacy and peer engagement initiatives.

“The work with AIA has really been a highlight,” said Moeller. “I met really lovely people, connected with other peers who were trying to be proactive in their careers.”

Moeller participated in AIA Colorado’s first cohort of the Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program and helped to launch the AIA group mentorship program (known as 5x5x5), which aims to connect architects of all ages and career stages with one another to share resources, gain knowledge and discuss common challenges.

“The intent of the program is to be very relationship-focused,” said Moeller. As a result of the relationships developed in the group mentorship program, members have found new colleagues that share a passion for architecture, and even new jobs.

“As much as [leading the group mentorship program] has been a volunteer opportunity, I really feel like I’ve gotten the most out of the relationships I created through the program,” Moeller said. “It’s incredibly energizing for both the mentors and mentees.”

As Moeller prepares to move to the East Coast, she is inspired by Colorado’s transformation, and hasn’t ruled out returning to the Centennial State after grad school.

“Denver’s always been a boom and bust city, so it’s hard to predict where it will go, but I think it’s true that the city is growing up right now and it’s very exciting that architects have a seat at the table.”

In fact, once she graduates from MIT, Moeller plans to return to her native Colorado to enthusiastically tackle issues and to hopefully have her own seat at the table.