This May, Mary Buchanan Brush ’88 will be inducted into the prestigious College of Fellows at the national American Institute of Architects (AIA) convention in Philadelphia. The induction is one of the highest honors the AIA can bestow upon a member, with the College of Fellows representing just 2.5 percent of the nearly 85,000 AIA members. Of the 147 new fellows in 2016, a record 22 percent are women.
Brush is the principal architect at the Chicago-based Brush Architects, LLC, which is dedicated to the investigation, restoration, modernization, design and repair of existing buildings. With more than 15 years of expertise in historic preservation using hands-on evaluation, diagnosis and problem solving, Brush has been a pioneer in the inspection, design and restoration of building facades, employing innovative and unconventional techniques to access architectural features — climbing or rappelling down buildings on ropes like a rock climber.
Brush graduated from William Smith with a degree in architectural studies. She was a member of the crew and swimming teams. She went on to earn her master of science in historic preservation from the University of Pennsylvania and a master in architecture from the University of Illinois-Chicago.
Prior to founding her own firm, she worked as the preservation and building envelope group leader for Holabird & Root, and director of preservation for Klein and Hoffman, Inc. She served as senior project director and architect at Thornton Tomasetti, formerly LZA Technology, and as an architect at Mayer Jeffers Gillespie.
Her historic preservation accomplishments have been recognized by the international juries of the American Architecture Foundation and the French Heritage Society (Societe des Vielles Maisons Francaises). In 2005, she was awarded the Richard Morris Hunt Fellowship, which recognizes one American architect every two years and provides the opportunity to spend six months working with elite preservation architects throughout France.
In 2011, Brush was named to i4design magazine’s 5th Annual Suite Sixteen, which honors the Midwest’s most innovative design experts in the architecture and interior design community. She has published articles illuminating the innovative techniques she learned and has applied to projects with unqualified success. She was the 2012 president and a former board member of AIA Illinois, and a former board member of AIA Chicago.
Based in Washington, D.C., the AIA has been the leading professional membership association for licensed architects, emerging professionals, and allied partners since 1857. The College of Fellows, founded in 1952, is composed of members of the Institute who are elected to fellowship by a jury of their peers.