What is your background? Describe your journey from first deciding you wanted to be an architect to now? (If not an architect, describe your career journey.)
As far back as I remember, I’ve had deep interest in architecture. As a high school student in Colorado Springs, I took a drafting class where we designed houses by hand and printed out the plans on a large blueprint machine (remember those?).
Years later, I enrolled in the architectural program at CU Boulder, but ultimately decided to change majors during freshman year and pursue a business degree. I was still undecided about my career path when a professor at the school told me a business degree would help me succeed in the profession even as a non-architect. He was right!
My first internship was with Design Workshop’s marketing and research team here in Denver. I had the honor of working under Becky Zimmerman there and learned a ton about planning and development.
Since then I’ve charted an exciting path, working for a variety of firms ranging from planning and architecture to development and construction throughout the United States. Through it all, the design side remains my first love and I am drawn to it.
What firm/organization are you currently with and how long have you been there?
I am now CannonDesign’s Office Leader here in Denver. I joined in Fall 2019, it’s a very exciting time for the firm and our office. We’re connected to exciting work in Denver and the region and our firm recently launched its Living-Centered Design platform. It helps us guide our clients to create solutions that help people continuously flourish.
What have been some of your favorite/proudest projects or career accomplishments?
I’ve been blessed to earn recognition at the top of my profession several times including receiving 40 Under 40 Recognition in San Diego at age 29 and the Business Developer of the Year award in Denver back in 2016.
My favorite project was the Lemon Grove Elementary School and Joint Use Library project in San Diego County. It was memorable for me and meant a great deal to the community.
Right now, we’re working with Colorado State University to renovate Shepardson Hall for the College of Agricultural Sciences. It’s an exciting project as their mission tackles such a major, important issue – how to feed future generations.
What have been some of the biggest challenges in your career and how did you overcome them?
My biggest challenges come through failure and learning how to bounce back from rejection. This is a competitive industry with a ton of great talent, and it is always hard losing out on a project you are really passionate about. I’ve learned to accept failure as part of the process, and understand that if serving a client is truly my top priority, I need to accept they chose the design partner they felt would service them best – even if it wasn’t my firm.
What advice do you have for an emerging professional in this profession?
Work hard. Define success as living out your values instead of focusing on money or status. Be authentic and genuine and own up to your weaknesses.
Why did you choose to get involved with AIA Colorado as a member?
As a native of Colorado, this organization is the catalyst for making great things happen. I’ve always had passion for design and architecture, and I’m proud to be part of such a dynamic organization that shares that passion here locally.
What do you think are the largest opportunities for architects in Colorado right now?
The diversity in our economy allows the profession to thrive in ways that it did not 20 years ago. The firms that focus on their strengths and provide great value will continue to grow here.
What are the largest challenges for architects in Colorado right now?
The rapid pace of change is a challenge. Technology, LEAN project tools, project delivery advancements like modular design – these are all exciting and important changes. It can be hard to keep up and learn new skills associated with these changes while also delivering leading-edge design work.
Where do you see the profession going in the future?
There will be more automation, more modularization of systems, and more forward thinking innovations in terms of ideas and building systems. Think about it, 3D printed buildings are a reality now. That’s not the future, that’s right now – so, who knows what else the future will bring.
What do you like to do outside of work and service?
I have a wonderful family and an 8-year-old son. I am an accomplished ultrarunner (I have finished the Leadville 100 run twice now) and love to snowboard. I’m learning to play guitar as well which has been a fun new hobby.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Creating great culture takes intentional work. Keep moving forward and know that our profession has a tangible impact on our world.