For the past few years, Colorado has consistently ranked as one of the top places in the country for young professionals. Combine that with the development boom, and Colorado becomes the obvious choice for aspiring architects.
That’s why Avik Guha, AIA and 2017 chair of AIA Colorado’s Emerging Professionals Committee (EPC) and his 2018 successor, Abby Noble, AIA—both transplants themselves—saw a need to ramp up efforts to engage young architects within the profession.
Originally from Florida, Guha earned two bachelor’s degrees at the University of Florida in architecture and psychology and two master’s degrees in architecture and construction management from Washington University in St. Louis. After graduating, he worked at Mackey Mitchell Architects where worked on multiple projects, including student housing, renovation of a historic cathedral and a state-of-the-art business school at his alma mater. That’s also when he first got involved with AIA through AIA St. Louis.
“I love St. Louis and my firm, but I wanted a fresh start in a new environment,” Guha said. “So, I visited Denver and saw the amount of growth and opportunity here.”
Hired by Roth Sheppard Architects in 2015, Guha has had the opportunity to work on a variety of new typologies, including the award-winning Blue Moon Brewery.
“Being able to take my friends to Blue Moon Brewery, where we can enjoy ourselves at a project that I was involved with feels very gratifying.” Guha said.
Still, his volunteer contributions rank tops as his proudest accomplishments.
“Being the EPC Chair and getting to work with AIA Colorado and my colleagues while making a difference in the community is a highlight so far,” said Guha.
He feels fortunate to have already had great mentors and opportunities in his emerging career, and is motivated to help his peers gain that same experience through the Emerging Professionals Committee and AIA Colorado.
AIA Colorado’s Emerging Professionals Committee, which represents student, associate and young architect members, has three primary objectives: to connect newly-licensed architects and potential members with AIA Colorado programs and resources, to work with AIA Colorado staff to scan the environment and research opportunities and resources for emerging professionals, and to act as liaisons between emerging professionals and the AIA Colorado Board of Directors.
Key goals of the committee are collaboration and communication. This past year, EPC has focused on encouraging young architects to get involved and spreading awareness about AIA Colorado events and awards. They’ve also worked to strengthen the bond between emerging professionals and Fellows, organized a variety of hard hat tours and prioritized visiting firms across the state to connect with their peers—something that was especially meaningful to Guha, who visited more than 35 firms in the past two years.
Through his work as 2017 chair, Guha has helped the committee to accomplish its goals and laid the groundwork for future success. As of January, Abby Noble will take over as chair of the Emerging Professionals Committee.
By her freshmen year in high school, Noble knew she wanted to become an architect, “because it is the perfect mix of technical logic and creativity.”
“I went to a dorky architecture camp as a teenager. My parents later said they sent me to prove that I didn’t want to be an architect, but I loved it and was further convinced.” Noble said.
Noble attended University of Wisconsin Milwaukee for grad school, and worked as an architect in North Carolina for four years, as the country was still recovering from the economic downturn.
As it began to stabilize, Noble started visiting cities to scope out a new place to move.
“As soon as I landed at DIA and began driving to Denver, I knew. The mountains combined with the city captured me,” Noble said.
Now at Davis Partnership, she specializes in healthcare architecture.
“I love healthcare architecture because there is a complexity to it that keeps me challenged every day. It helps that I am the daughter of a doctor and nurse, and the sister of a dentist,” Said Noble.
Noble’s thesis in grad school was about how the built environment can play a role in the healing and maintenance of those who struggle with mental health. She also sees an opportunity to change the stereotype of healthcare design from bland and boring to beautiful and welcoming, rich in thoughtful design. Her aim is to create dignity for patients, as well as a place that allows doctors and nurses to do their jobs efficiently.
Focused on her career, Noble did not get involved with AIA until she moved to Colorado.
“At that point I realized that AIA wasn’t just about networking. Of course I wanted to meet the people who are designing Colorado and get to know my peers who are leaders in the architectural community. But now I see that members of AIA Colorado are also the voice of architecture and a voice for creating great changes in our state,” Noble said.
She, too, was motivated by a desire to help connect emerging professionals across the state. As chair of the Emerging Professionals Committee, Noble plans to begin by listening to members and their needs, facilitating connections and encouraging engagement with AIA Colorado awards and opportunities. She will also be working closely with AIA Colorado staff on improving communication with emerging professionals.
Stay tuned for information on ways to engage with AIA Colorado and the Emerging Professionals Committee in 2018, and be sure to check aiacolorado.org/calendar for upcoming opportunities and events.