As we celebrate our 40th anniversary this year, we're highlighting a different partner every few weeks here and on our social media. Up this week: Nelle Blevins!

Nelle joined MZA in 2015. She has designed and managed commercial, educational, residential, historic, and adaptive re-use projects and is a LEED Accredited Professional with specialization in Building Design and Construction through the USGBC.

In addition to her architectural career, Nelle has designed soldered and beaded jewelry for private and retail commission since 1993. Her work has sold in retail shops in Tennessee, Virginia, and Louisiana. In Nashville, her pieces have sold at the Frist Art Museum Gift Shop, where she has been a featured local artist during a Museum Member Preview Event.

1. Where did you grow up?

Johnson City, TN, right between the Great Smokey and Blue Ridge Mountains

2. What did you want to be when you grew up?

I was a sort of theater kid, way more interested in working behind the scenes than on the stage. For years, I wanted to go into set design which is what led me to architecture.

3. Where did you go to college and why did you select that institution?

Tulane University (MArch). I fell in love with New Orleans. The architecture, the culture, and the people are all unlike any other place in the country.

4. If you weren’t in the architecture business, what would you be doing?

Probably finding a way to make a living making things… refining/learning new jewelry making techniques, practicing throwing bigger and bigger pots, and figuring out different ways to combine and expand on those skillsets.

5. What was the last concert (before times) you attended? What venue?

I think my last big show was Dinosaur Jr. at the Cannery. My last small show was Fauna Halo as part of a March 2020 tornado benefit at Cobra the night before I began Covid lockdown.

7. What do you collect?

I have a pretty large collection of vintage metal lunch boxes. I also have quite a few house plants and house cats.

8. Where do you get your coffee from? How do you take it?

Lately my own kitchen. Sometimes black, sometimes with coconut cream.

9. What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

Jeni’s Blackberry & Sweet Corn is a standout.

10. What initially excited you about working with MZA?

I love that we’re a relatively small office with a big variety of skills and talents. The culture and energy of the office translates into our work, and that’s an exciting job to find.

11. What's the best career advice you've ever heard?

Jobs are like fresh tomatoes. If you don’t like them, it’s probably because you grew up only having bad ones.