Q&A with Carl Hole

Principal, Head of the Denver Public Architecture Studio at RNL (now Stantec Architecture)


Carl Hole

How did you get into architecture?

I’ve been practicing for 30 years, since I graduated from college in 1984 from Arizona State University. A year after graduating, I moved to Denver where since then, I’ve worked on a variety of projects throughout the country—from newspaper facilities to higher education facilities.

What invigorates me daily as an architect is solving complex problems for clients.

What is exciting about being an architect in Colorado right now?

One of the things that is really exciting is the way we are delivering projects in Colorado. We’re on the verge of being able to change the way we deliver our projects, rather than turn over the same kind of construction set we’ve been delivering to clients for eons. We’ve got technology in place that can help us deliver our projects in new, better ways. Our challenge is to leverage that technology and push beyond our traditional processes.

But something that we need to pay really close attention to is the growth that we’ve all seen in Colorado.  It has brought an incredible need for affordable housing that is close to where folks work.  The growth has also had a big impact on our infrastructure ranging from roads to facilities that support our communities. As a profession, this gives us a real opportunity to pay attention to how the built environment impacts daily life and the community.

Beyond our profession, I think it’s incumbent upon the public to demand the highest possible quality in the way that we approach our projects—from the materials being used, to the way a building supports the fabric of our neighborhoods or community spaces. That applies to all communities whether it is an urban setting such as Denver or a rural community on the western slope.

What do you hope to achieve as AIA Colorado Board President?

As an organization, I think we try to be all things to all members. Unfortunately, that often times dilutes the overall impact the organization can have.  So, our challenge is to find a balance between providing advocacy, knowledge and outreach.  I hope members will get involved and bring their thoughts forward.  I consider myself very lucky in the profession and I consider it my responsibility to give back in some way. One of the best mentors I’ve had used to say, “you can sit around and complain about a problem, or you can get involved in solving it.” So, I wanted to take part in solving issues that impact our profession.

I want to make sure we are communicating the value of AIA to our members, and the value of AIA architects to the public.

In your opinion, what are the biggest benefits of AIA membership?

Advocacy at the local and state levels of government; we can have tremendous influence on shaping the rules and regulations that impact how we practice and the context in which we practice. Other benefits include knowledge or educational opportunities ranging from leadership to business practices. And finally, networking; and not just providing networking opportunities between members, but networking opportunities with our industry partners. Those connections can help our own practices and carriers.

What advice do you have for emerging professionals in architecture?

Starting a career in our profession can be extremely daunting given the amount, variety and complexity of the knowledge and experience we need to be successful.  So, I would say focus on real-time learning and build a support network that can provide that focus.  For example, it’s one thing to learn about firm finance, but if you are not in a position to use that information on a day to day basis, that may not be the most important thing to learn right now. A better strategy would be to set goals for yourself two or three years out and then figure out the components and pieces you need to get you there. That may include chatting with a mentor or friend to figure out what steps or things you need to learn in order to achieve those goals and then focus on finding learning opportunities that support those goals.