Clara Dykstra

Clara Dykstra

Pasadena, CA, US



I am an architectural and urban designer with a background in anthropology. For the past two and half years I have been applying my training as an architect in the field of urban design. My interest in this field has been rooted in a desire to work meaningfully within the political, environmental, social, and financial forces that shape cities and building design, so that I can design compelling equitable spaces that create a positive impact on both the city and building scale. My experience working with developers and with nonprofits clients to support their surrounding communities through the design and development of their landholdings has prepared me to work on local residential, retail, or office projects in Los Angeles, CA.

After working in New York for over three years, I have moved to back to LA because I feel invested in the city’s future and I want to help LA continue to become an equitable, accessible, and thriving city. I have completed nearly all my NCARB hours and starting tests for ARE in March 2020. 



RePLACE Urban Studio, New York, NY, US, Urban Designer

I designed sites, buildings, and development strategies for nonprofit and developer clients seeking to develop property that aligns with their mission statement in New York City and Newark, NJ. To do this I analyzed zoning code, met with clients, gathered and mapped relevant contextual data, wrote grants, and designed site plans, massings, and floor plans. In my last year, I led three out of the five projects we had from a single client. I presented my work in a variety of settings, from meeting with Boards of Directors to City Officials.

Aug 2017 - Jan 2020, New York, NY, US, Contributor

I collaborated with a several peers to develop research drawings on the relevant laws, processes, statistics, locations, and reformation initiatives within the New York City’s criminal justice system. To gather information on these spaces we consulted with public defenders, court and jail architects, the legal aid society, and the Center for Court Innovation.

Jun 2017 - Oct 2017

Columbia University, New York, NY, US, Visual Studies Teaching Assistant

I aided first year Masters of Architecture students in learning design software, techniques for constructing physical models, and conceptual tools for designing and reflecting critically on their work. I met with students for desk-crits twice a week to discuss assignments.

Aug 2016 - May 2017

The Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture, Columbia University, New York, NY, US, Graduate Research Assistant

I collaborated with small team of postgraduate students to identify archival materials and present their significance to a team of designers, curators, and staff for coordination on the exhibition “Living in America: Frank Lloyd Wright, Harlem & Modern Housing”.

Jun 2016 - May 2017

RePLACE Urban Studio, New York, NY, US, Urban Designer and Researcher

I worked with a small team of designers to develop a methodology for identifying potential sites within downtown Newark for small scale interventions. Maps, architectural proposals, and urban strategies were woven together in a small booklet for use by the office.

Jun 2016 - Aug 2016

5+design, Los Angeles, CA, US, Junior Designer

I researched and analyzed the implications of current market trends on architectural design of retail spaces and presented these finding to the office through Powerpoint presentations and an original publication comprised of mappings, diagrams, and a white paper.

Jun 2016 - Aug 2016

Columbia University, New York, NY, US, Core I Design Studio Teaching Assistant

I met with first semester Master of Architecture students in studio twice a week for two hours to answer technical questions about various design softwares and discuss design concepts and visualization techniques.

Sep 2015 - Dec 2015

Telemachus Studio, Los Angeles, CA, US, Junior Designer

I coordinated consultant drawings during design and construction phases by reviewing drawings to ensure they incorporated design intent and supported the senior designer and principal architect in creating designs and deliverables in the form of drawings based on the firm’s architectural standards.

Feb 2014 - Aug 2014

The Museum of Jurassic Technology, Los Angeles, CA, US, Assistant Gift Shop Curator

I fabricated custom jewelry, ceramics, and art for sale in the museum gift shop using resin, ceramic, silicon, solder, wood, and heavy machinery. On alternate days I served drinks to guests in the museum’s tea room and received guests at the front reception desk.

Feb 2008 - Dec 2012


Columbia University, New York, NY, US, MArch, The Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation

Aug 2014 - May 2017

Los Angeles Institute of Architecture and Design (LAIAD), Los Angeles, CA, US, Graduate Preparation Course

Jan 2013 - Dec 2013

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Los Angeles, CA, US, Bachelors, Anthropology

Sep 2005 - Aug 2009


Lucille Smyser Lowenfish Memorial Prize, Award

This award is given to the most outstanding student in the final semester design studio section selected by each critic. I won for my proposal for small structural interventions to expand and connect gers, the traditional housing unit used by nomadic Mongolians, for use by a new and larger sedentary community growing on the outskirts of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. This studio was conducted by Rural Urban Framework.


Areas of Specialization