The Future of Building: Rachael Varin '21 B Arch

April 29, 2021

Eight Questions with Bachelor of Architecture Student Rachael Varin

“I think that the future of building is going to be focused on sustainability and using our resources better. That said, prefabrication, modular design and adaptive reuse really interest me.”

Bachelor of Architecture student Rachael Varin, who was born and raised in Tucson, has used her CAPLA studio and design/build experience, as well as her internships in Arizona and California, to build upon her passion for construction.

What brought you to the University of Arizona and College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture to study architecture?

I always knew I’d be going to the U of A because I grew up here, but I found CAPLA by accident. My dad is a carpenter and it had always been interesting to me so I thought I’d give it a shot!

What area of architecture most interests you?

I think that the future of building is going to be focused on sustainability and using our resources better. That said, prefabrication, modular design and adaptive reuse really interest me. I have hope that it will improve the future of our industry.


Rachael Varin in the shop
Rachael Varin works in the CAPLA shop for the design/build course.

What do you like best about the B Arch program and CAPLA?

Definitely the people! Over the years at CAPLA, I really feel like I have been able to make some great connections with both classmates and professors. I am very grateful to have met everyone in the Class of 2021.

Tell us about your experience working in the Materials Labs and on design/build projects.

I’ve had the privilege of working in the Materials Labs as a monitor since my second year at the college. I’ve learned so much from Laboratory Manager Paulus Musters and Eric Hubbard.

I also spent two semesters in the design/build studio working on the Stadium Rowhouses. I really enjoyed the variety in my experience working with Professor of Architecture Mary Hardin. I was able to do larger-scale tasks like framing and also was able to design and install built-in furniture with two good friends on the most recent rowhouse. 

What has been your biggest challenge at UArizona, and how have you overcome that challenge?

I’d say my biggest challenge was taking a year off from school for medical reasons. To be honest, though, the class I joined didn’t miss a beat in making me feel welcome and I’ve made some of the best friends I could ever ask for.


Interior of Stadium Rowhouse design/build project
Interior of Stadium Rowhouse design/build project. Photo by Rachael Varin.

What does the CAPLA experience mean for you?

To me, the CAPLA experience is having a place with a bunch of people who think similarly to you and have similar goals and aspirations. It’s been really nice to have a community like that.

Tell us about your job experience and career aspirations.

I’ve been lucky enough to have a few internships. I started with Studio CABAN here in Tucson after my third year in the B Arch program. Then, I was able to work the past two summers for Shubin Donaldson out in Santa Barbara, California. They have a high focus on research and development as well as a lot of physical fabrication, so it was a great experience. It was really humbling to have the opportunity to work directly with the principal there and lead the design process for development models. As for the rest of my career, I’m not sure but am definitely leaning towards being on the building side of things.

What advice do you have for prospective B Arch students?

Don't ever sacrifice your health for school. Enjoy your time, make designs you like even if your professor doesn’t and honestly just do what you want. Architecture is art and it's subjective so just try to find a balance between putting in creative effort in school, while still having time for yourself.


Rachael Varin 21 B Arch


Student Profile