Melissa Farling

Melissa Farling
Principal, Multistudio, Phoenix, AZ
Bachelor of Arts in Architecture, UNC Charlotte (1988)
Bachelor of Architecture and Master of Architecture, University of Arizona (1992)

Hometown: Old Tappan, NJ

In Melissa Farling’s third year at UNC Charlotte, architecture professor Eric Sauda challenged his students to combine architecture with another passion. Melissa’s other passion was psychology, and she wanted to study a restrictive environment to see what relationship there might be between design and behavior. She began to look at prisons and the following year, in Ken Lambla’s studio, continued that work in the most restrictive of environments, death row. Those two studio experiences profoundly shaped Melissa’s career.

“It was my introduction to understanding the impacts of architecture on the individual,” she says. “I have never looked back. I have continued to pursue research regarding the impacts of the built environment, and I use that information to inform design on all different building types.”

Mellisa has been published internationally and gives frequent presentations on evidence-based design applications. She has embraced her 30+ year career as a mission to improve people’s daily lives, spirits and wellbeing, particularly when it comes to complex healthcare and civic projects.

She works with neuroscientists to better understand the mind-body connections to the built environment and co-chaired the AIA Justice Research program for over a decade. Her expertise in mental health and the justice system led to her invitation to the AIA’s recently formed mental health and architecture incubator group. Melissa initiated and chaired the 2018 AIA Justice annual conference- Enlighted Justice/ Advancing Treatment- focused on mental health in the justice system, bringing together health and justice architects for the first time to address the larger systemic issues of mental health in communities.

“I use my education at UNC Charlotte as a benchmark professionally and personally,” Melissa says. “UNC Charlotte offers one of the few programs in the United States that you can enter in your first year.  Not only does this give you more opportunities, but it allows for students to immediately learn to work with and from each other and make lifelong relationships.  The instructors are amazing.  It was a very intimate and powerful experience.”

Melissa was the 2017 Distinguished Alumna in the School of Architecture.