Dominic Weilminster, AIA has already achieved a lot in his career.
At the age of 35, Weilminster has been one of the youngest principals at RNL (now Stantec), the youngest member of RNL’s Board of Directors, was named the 2016 AIA Colorado Emerging Professional of the Year, was an alumni board member for CU Denver, serves on the Advisory Board for the CU Denver Chancellor’s Development Committee and most recently, was awarded Denver Business Journal’s “40 Under 40.”
“Every time I receive a recognition like this I celebrate a little bit, but it usually means I need to step it up to feel like I’ve actually earned the title,” explained Weilminster. “I better make sure to walk the talk.”
Weilminster prefers to lead with optimism, which makes him ideal for his position at RNL, now Stantec—Business Center Discipline Leader.
“Basically, I am the head cheerleader for doing good work,” joked Weilminster.
In his role, Weilminster helps architects advocate for themselves, their work and the importance of good design. He’s formally been in this position about a year, but he’s been championing this idea since he first joined RNL in 2008.
He started working at RNL at the height of an economic recession, which greatly impacted architects.
“It’s hard to stay enthusiastic about good design in a bad economic environment,” Weilminster said.
That is why he and a colleague instituted “Funday Afternoons,” which were open-ended presentations that invited RNL employees to showcase their work and chat about quality design. The impact of these fun presentations was even better than Weilminster expected. It boosted the morale of the organization and changed its culture, so that when the economy finally began to pick up, the staff had a better appreciation for each other and was more effective at working together.
“I believe that positive attitudes lead to better outcomes on projects,” said Weilminster. “Architecture can be hard because it is stressful, but what we do is really impactful, and we should have fun doing it! It usually pays off in a big way.”
Weilminster brings a unique perspective to the design world, as architecture is actually his second career. A journalist by training, Weilminster began his career as a reporter for The Durango Herald. He credits his days working in a newsroom for giving him the opportunity to interact with a variety of people and learn to listen, relate to and identify strengths in other people.
“My humanistic view of the world has helped me as an architect,” said Weilminster. “I think I’m able to straddle between being a leader and being able to design effectively because I maybe have a more people-centric, rather than object-centric perspective. And I don’t think that undercuts the value of good design.”
Dominic chose to end his career as a reporter and go to architecture school because he “was constantly interviewing people who were doing cool stuff,” and he wanted to be one of the “doers”.
He’d designed furniture as a hobby, and knew he wanted to do something creative, so he quickly turned to architecture.
But that doesn’t mean it was an easy transition.
During his first day of graduate design studio, Weilminster was so nervous that he couldn’t draw a straight line with a ruler.
“I thought I’d made a huge mistake, but as soon as I realized that the process of writing and designing are actually very similar, and that they each use the same parts of my brain, it clicked into place and I fell in love with architecture,” he said.
A combination of hard work and passion have allowed Weilminster to grow quickly in his career. Even before he was a principal, he believed that he had the ability to make a big difference within an organization.
“It’s a mindset change. There’s a lot to be said for working at a place that has really good bones, but just needs a little ‘kick in the pants’ to be even better,” Weilminster said. “Any employee can be the one who helps figure it out. Anyone can be the kicker.”
Throughout his career, Weilminster has prioritized giving back both within the profession and to the broader Colorado community.
“I’m fortunate enough to only have to work one job and to have the time and energy to give back and be a citizen of the community,” Weilminster explained. As a Colorado native, he has enjoyed watching Denver grow and being able to contribute to a place that he’s known his entire life.
He encourages his architecture colleagues to get involved too. “It is important for architects to understand the platform we have through our work. Our creative value is maximized by participating in the community around us.”
When Weilminster is not working or serving on a board, he enjoys volunteering for Mountain Hub, which is a technology company focused on solutions for safe backcountry recreation. And somehow on top of everything else, Weilminster finds time to be a husband and father to two young girls.
Looking ahead, Dominic hopes to continue to champion architecture and quality design and to fully embrace his role as a leader in the community.