What is your background? Describe your journey from first deciding you wanted to be an architect to now?
I was raised northwest of St. Cloud, Minnesota in a town named Albany, and was influenced by the work of Marcel Breuer at St. John’s University. Growing up, I was surrounded by carpenters, ceramic artists and hobby enthusiasts who suggested pursuing architecture to me when I was in high school. I then went on to pursue an architectural master’s degree at North Dakota State University without really understanding what that meant. I am still discovering what architecture is. During school, I was able to study abroad, and I feel closer to the answer after having that experience.
While at NDSU I interned in Montana at CTA Architects & Engineers (now Cushing Terrell). I can’t thank this group enough for taking the time to teach me. CTA was the experience that made me pursue firms in Colorado. Right after graduating, I flew out to Denver to start at RNL Design, which was acquired by Stantec about one year later. I am grateful to work next to and learn from the people that I do.
What firm/organization are you currently with and how long have you been there?
I have been at RNL/Stantec for about three and a half years.
What have been some of your favorite/proudest projects or career accomplishments?
- RFP Pursuits
- Denver Public Works Master Planning
- Denver Zoo
- City Build Leadership
What have been some of the biggest challenges in your career and how did you overcome them?
One of the biggest challenges is not knowing what I don’t know. I have no fear in asking questions, and even asking questions to find a better solution, but due to the nature of this profession I am sure that I will be asking questions for the rest of my career.
What advice do you have for an emerging professional in this profession?
The best advice I can give to people pursuing architecture is to start your rolling clock and join groups outside of the profession. Taking the exams is horrible for most of us, but the only motivator is yourself. Just schedule one. Lastly, talk to people who don’t work in your profession. Taking the time to participate in another group allows you to create passions and to learn the terms that are industry jargon. It’s our job to educate our clients. Don’t separate your language from theirs.
Why did you choose to get involved with AIA Colorado as a member, volunteer and now board member?
The AIA is the best organization to effect change in architecture, which is why I volunteered and pursued becoming a board member.
What are you most excited to work on this year as a board member?
I am excited to learn about what the AIA is pursuing legislatively in Colorado and the larger western region. Legislation has been at the center of our industry’s hardships and successes. I want to see this process in action.
What do you think are the largest opportunities for architects in Colorado right now?
Denver is home to a great deal of people that are not from here, and I feel that although we have a great deal of growing pains, the growth is good. The largest opportunity we have is to create spaces that make the transplants want to stay.
What are the largest challenges for architects in Colorado right now?
One of the largest concerns I have for the profession is another recession. The industry has a gap of qualified leadership due to the most recent recession. Young architects are entering the field, and the mentors are not going to be there long enough or don’t have the time for the knowledge to be passed along. In addition, the leadership in construction craft is still recovering. What structures can we put into place to ensure our industry is protected?
Where do you see the profession going in the future?
I see the profession shifting the needle in resiliency. We are the educators when it comes to resilient design.
What do you like to do outside of work and service?
Outside of work, I am involved in other organizations. City Build was an organization formed by the Downtown Denver Partnership, and I currently serve on its leadership board. This is a group made up of young professionals who are excited about the city environment and want to know how they can have a voice. It isn’t difficult to create interest in millennials about what is happening downtown. They want to know. We just need to find different ways to share the information. For example, a “quaint” family style dinner in the middle of a downtown Denver street for three-hundred people.
Anything else you’d like to add?
When I am not studying for my exams, I enjoy going to the mountains to ski, hike or camp. Colorado is one of the most beautiful states in the country, and I would hate to waste it. Recently, I have started climbing. It is never too late to start another hobby.