Rachel Wiesbrock Wants to Rethink the Future of Accessible Architecture

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Having been born and raised in what she calls “a generic town” northwest of Chicago, Rachel Wiesbrock (Architecture 4th Year) says coming to study architecture in Chicago—and all the opportunity it provided—was a revelation.

“When I started at Illinois Tech, I absolutely fell in love with the accessibility and celebration of all the international cultures represented in the student body and staff,” says Rachel. It is such a special opportunity to be able to travel the world in any classroom or discussion on this campus.”

At the tail end of her first year at Illinois Tech, Rachel joined the school’s American Institute of Architecture Students chapter to attend a conference in Detroit. Now in her fourth year in the architecture program, Rachel runs iitAIAS as chapter president, serving as the executive representative of Illinois Tech architecture students and collateral architecture organizations locally, nationally, and abroad.

In addition, Rachel serves on an AIAS committee dedicated to bring more diversity and equity into the architecture field. Specifically, she is one of four inaugural national advocates focusing on accessibility in architecture, and has spoken at two conferences and recently conducted an interactive workshop to raise awareness about individuals living with disabilities.

“I have become very passionate about accessibility because it is a very personal issue in my life. I have a physical disability that I sometimes use a wheelchair or crutches for if I need to travel somewhere relatively far or for a long time,” she says.

Rachel says that having a disability empowers her as a future architect, and she hopes to use her education in architecture to make the built world a more inclusive place for people with physical impairments. As an intern at Stantec, she has already had experience working with the firm’s Paths to Travel team, which remodels existing buildings to make them more accessible.

“Every day I experience many situations of inequality and ignorance as someone who is physically impaired, so I hope to work toward eliminating that discrimination and work toward a world where accessibility is equality and no one feels left out,” she says.

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