Alumni Spotlight: Nadine Saint-Louis ’03
Nadine Saint-Louis is a licensed architect registered in the states of New York and Florida. Her passion for architecture began at a very young age when she first visited Manhattan and was completely mesmerized. As she explored the city, her gaze never strayed from the Manhattan skyline, and from that moment on, she never looked back… architecture captured her.
Nadine holds a Master of Architecture Degree from Florida International University and a Bachelor of Architecture degree from New York Institute of Technology. She has had over fourteen years of experience designing residential homes throughout Long Island for the award-winning office of Paul Russo Architect, PC, and is now exploring commercial architecture under the leadership and guidance of the award-winning office of MCHarry Associates. In addition to working in a firm, Nadine is an adjunct professor at Florida International University teaching both Design1 and Design2 architectural courses.
Nadine’s professional memberships include the American Institute of Architects and the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. She is the current President of the National Organization of Minority Architects of South Florida and Co-Chair of the AIA Miami Diversity and Inclusion Committee for the 2022 calendar year.
What inspired you to pursue a career in architecture? How did your love of architecture develop into a commitment to work to close the racial disparity gap within the field?
Architecture has always been a passion of mine even before I knew what an architect was. I have always been fascinated with the built environment, structural elements, and being creative. Architecture comprises all these things in one. Although I love this profession, the field does have its shortcomings. While in school I didn’t have the knowledge of an architect that looked like me or someone I could relate to. The minority and female presence was almost non-existent in the world of architecture that surrounded me. I knew what that felt like as a student and the impression it made on me. Because of that, I decided I wanted to be a part of the change by becoming a professor and getting involved in organizations that would connect me to the youth and young architects. Future architects can see me, a minority female architect, and potentially have someone they could relate to. I am a firm believer that if you see it, you can be it, so my goal is to be seen so young minority architects know they can attain and even surpass my work and what I have achieved. See me and be BETTER than me.
How do you think your time at Kellenberg Memorial helped to prepare you for your success in your academic and professional pursuits?
I learned so much while having the privilege of attending Kellenberg. I have come to appreciate the discipline and ethics that the school instilled. I didn’t know it or appreciate it then, but it is because of the school that I can multi-task the way I do and work efficiently under pressure. I would rather take another licensing exam than another Kellenberg Trimester final.
Do you have any advice for current students or young alumni who are interested in pursuing a career in architecture or DEI?
The advice I give my students today is that they must understand that to pursue architecture is to pursue a career that is about people and the people also includes yourself as the architect. Architecture is the built environment that completely focuses on the human condition and human scale. As you take care of the human environment you also must take care of yourself. Believe in yourself and what you are doing for the good of the human condition. Know that it is hard, but you can do it. Know that it is stressful, but you will get through it. Know that you may want to quit at times, but with focus and discipline, you will succeed. Understanding these things will give you the confidence to deal with the difficult times that come with this career. There are many sleepless nights, stressful deadlines, and difficult clients. But when you see your creation transformed from a line drawing to physical space that people are using and enjoying, it all becomes worth it. Similarly, DEI is also about people; therefore, architecture and DEI go hand in hand. You must design for all people with the equitable use of space. In my opinion, to be a good architect one must have DEI as the central focus of the design.
Do you have any favorite teachers, coaches, or club moderators from your time at Kellenberg Memorial?
The most memorable times I had at Kellenberg were on the Track & Field team. The coaches and my teammates made the school year the best time for me. I still run today, and running has become part of my mental wellness and health routine. Coach Brown was the best and I credit my dedication to running today to his influence. I didn’t appreciate him then as much as I do now, so thank you Coach Brown.