Cindy Urness

Associate Professor

Architecture Program Director


Phone: (701) 231-5791


M.Arch.,Pratt Institute,1988
B.Arch. and B.A., North Dakota State University, 1980

Research and Interest:

Cindy Urness is a registered architect with 23 years of professional experience in all aspects of design and practice in metropolitan areas. Her research interests include utopian cities, student success, interior space making, and building systems.


Selected Publications and Recent Research:

For the Birds, 2016. Darryl Booker, Joan Vorderbruggen, and Cindy Urness Society of Building Technology Educators Annual Conference/Retreat. Las Vegas, NV, 2010 "Water and Invention"
Society of Building Technology Educators Annual Conference/Retreat. Quebec City, QC, 2009
"Zero Energy Design Planning in 1960's Minnesota"
Northern Great Plains History Conference. Brandon, MB, September, 2008
"The Minnesota Experimental City: Utopian City Planning on the Plains"



North Dakota, License #2850
NCARB Certified, 1986


Professional Experience:

Foss Associates, Fargo, ND Project Manager, 2003
YHR Partners, Moorhead, MN Designer, 2002-2003
The Modern Building Company, Fargo, ND Partner, 1998-Present
Cindy L.Urness, Architect, New York, NY Principal, 1994-1998
Daniel Pang + Associates, NewYork, NY Project Manager, 1987-1994
Francoise Bollack Architect, New York, NY Designer,1986-1987
WZMH Group, Inc., Dallas, TX Project Manager and Job Captain, 1983-1985
LaVere Brooks and Associates, Dallas, TX Job Captain and Draftsperson, 1980-1983


Professional Memberships:

The American Institute of Architects
AIA North Dakota, Vice President/President-elect
Society of Building Science Educators
Building Science Educators Society


Courses Taught:

ARCH233 Math for Designers
ARCH271 Architectural Design I
ARCH272 Architectural Design II
ARCH781 Professional Practice
LA581 Professional Practice


Teaching Experience:

Associate Professor, North Dakota State University, 2009-present
Assistant Professor, North Dakota State University, 2003-2009
Adjunct Professor, North Dakota State University, 2002



2015 NDSU Blue Key National Honor Society Distinguished Educator Award



Ask Me


Who are your role models or inspiring folks?

My role models are the great teachers that I had along the way (including Ron Ramsay!), as well as the professional mentors whose passion for architecture often compensated for their NOT being perfect in every other aspect of their jobs. 


Outside of art and design fields, what inspires you?

My connections with the wisdom of the natural world, how each plant and creature I encounter in this particularly harsh environment that we live in has a traveled an evolutionary path to survival. Also, the ability of humans to be humorous, and to be eloquent with the written and spoken word.


What do you wish you had known when you started out as a student/in this field?

The joy and gratification that would come from working with real clients.


What was your most memorable meal? 

When I was 14, my family traveled to Norway so that my grandfather could be reunited with his mother and siblings, after not seeing them for 50 years. Our welcome meal with the family, at the end of a long day trip on a train from Oslo to the coast, was a simple (but large) bowl of rommegrot (cream porridge), served with melted butter, sugar and cinnamon. I can taste it still and feel the warmth of 50 years of pent-up emotions.


In your office, you can only have three things, one book, one tool, and one picture. What would they be and why?

- Christopher Alexander's "A Pattern Language," because within it are all of the rules for people-center architecture.

- A "Le Pen" felt tip, because it feels so good in my hand, and flows so beautifully.

- Leo Kim's beautiful photograph of a North Dakota country road, a field and a background of cumulous clouds, because if reminds me of my family's roots in central North Dakota.

Top of page