The daughter of a Marine, Laura Dougherty Koehler, AIA, was used to moving frequently.
When she decided to become an architect because of her love of art, sketching and capturing space through drawing, Dougherty chose to attend University of North Carolina at Charlotte, not far from her home at the time.
“I always knew I would be somewhat nomadic and adventurous, so I was fine with going to the in-state school at the time,” said Dougherty.
Just as she predicted, Dougherty left North Carolina, and on her way West, stopped in Houston to earn her master’s degree.
“After earning my degree, I worked in the zoning-free environment of Houston, but I soon heeded the call to move again and went to Denver—the opposite of Houston. Mountains, seasons, no humidity and all of the zoning we can handle,” Dougherty joked.
“I am really proud of the CTA Denver office and how much we’ve been able to grow,” said Dougherty. During her ten years, the studio has expanded to offer architecture, engineering and planning services.
The diversity of skills at CTA has afforded Dougherty the ability to work on a multitude of projects and to hone a unique skillset.
“The profession is moving in a direction of specialization, but there is still an awful lot that architects are expected to do. We are problem-solvers,” said Dougherty. “And that’s what keeps it fun and exciting.”
In the past year, Dougherty has been recognized for both her design work and her commitment to her clients.
The Laramie County Community College “Flex Tech” Building, which Dougherty and her team designed to be a flexible learning environment for several degree programs, received a Learning By Design 2017 Award of Excellence. The award celebrated the building’s innovative higher education design.
“I’m really proud to have been part of this project,” said Dougherty. “There were a number of really great projects and solutions of this type, so to be recognized is really exciting.”
Dougherty was also recognized with CTA’s highest honor, the 2017 Integrity and Client Service Award. Nominated by her colleagues and judged against CTA employees across the country, Dougherty was selected based on three criteria—honesty, compassion and responsiveness.
“This award represents both validation and a challenge. It sets a high bar and challenges me to do more because this is confirmation that CTA values caring, hard work and personal responsibility,” said Dougherty upon receiving the award.
Not only does Dougherty have a desire to serve CTA clients with integrity, she is also passionate about developing the younger staff at the firm and providing them with the tools and resources they need to advance in their careers. One of the ways she does that is through championing mentorship.
“I am passionate about this idea of mentorship and how we can facilitate organic opportunities to find mentors,” Dougherty said.
To help create some of these “organic” relationships, Dougherty looks for opportunities to connect architects who might not otherwise interact, both within her firm and the broader AIA community.
“Having mentors whose experience you can draw on helps the profession and the individual, and gives us a better built environment,” she said. “That matters because the built environment impacts humans on a very basic level, and I care very much about that.”
When she’s not designing, helping clients or facilitating connections within the profession, Dougherty enjoys spending time with her two young daughters.