As we celebrate our 40th anniversary this year, we're featuring a different partner every few weeks. This week, it's all Mark Bixler!

A graduate of the University of Kentucky and Columbia University, Mark joined MZA in 2004 after moving his family from NYC to Nashville. He seeks out project types that don’t neatly fit into a box and that challenge what we’ve “tried before.” He is a licensed architect in numerous states and is National Council of Architectural Registration  Boards (NCARB) certified.

1. Where did you grow up?

Upstate NY. Western side of Rochester. Cold, gray, snowy. Almost Canada.

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

I went to University of Kentucky undergraduate for my BArch. I liked the design approach of the program, it was affordable, and it wasn’t too close to home. I went to Columbia University for my master’s degree because they touted a heavy focus on technology within the profession and encouraged experimental computer-based design, and all the design studio professors were licensed practicing architects. New York City wasn’t a bad place to study architecture either.

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

I always liked math and statistics and used to keep sports stats as a kid, even if I had to make up fictional games to keep the stats for. My interest was less in the game, and more in the data the game created.

4. What initially excited me about working with MZA was…

Not knowing exactly what I would be working on. Manuel had projects of varying scales and types and offered an opportunity to dive in head-first. It felt like I would have lots of exposure to lots of stuff in a very short time.

5. Which has been your favorite project to work on so far?

The University School of Nashville Centennial Project. The clients were open to our ideas and willing to “push the limits” when presented with design concepts. There was never a question if the project wouldn’t be built. And the scope ultimately touched so much of the school it felt like we were able to make improvements to spaces that were just caught in the wake of the other work. Even though the project only added a few thousand SF, we were able to impact ~45,000 SF within the school, some of which was space that was otherwise unusable until we found a way to capture it.

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

My wife and I saw Ruben Studdard at the symphony in March 2020.

7. Have you ever had a nickname? What is it?

“Bix”. Because monosyllabic “Mark” is too difficult for some to pronounce, I guess.

8. What’s the most beautiful city you’ve been to?

I studied in Venice for a semester. The city’s “frozen in time” uniqueness is unlike anywhere else I’ve been. And even after living there for 3+ months, I still managed to get lost and explore new sections of the city I had never seen before.

9. Where do you volunteer?

For the past 12+ years I have volunteered with my kids’ schools. My wife and I were PTO presidents for 3 years and we both also sat on the PTO board in different roles. I was on the Hillsboro High School marching band executive board for 2 years and still volunteer as the webmaster for HHS.