What is your background? Describe your journey from first deciding you wanted to be an architect to now?

Lee and Emay 2018 - CopyFrom the first time I drew a floorplan in 8th grade drafting, I was hooked. From that point on, I never really considered another career choice. Cal Poly SLO gave me a great foundation, and my love of learning has propelled me through the last 42 years.

What firm are you currently with and how long have you been there?

I am a founding principal of Infusion Architects in Loveland. We started in 2014 and are currently an eight-person firm.

What have been some of your favorite/proudest projects to work on?

I have thoroughly enjoyed the historic rehabilitation of the Tabor Grand Hotel in Leadville and the design of several custom homes in California and Colorado, but my current work as practice manager for our firm is the most satisfying work I have done.

What have been some of the biggest challenges in your career and how did you overcome them?

During my first week in my first job after graduation from Cal Poly in 1976, I was given surveys of four severe hillside lots and the assignment of designing homes for them. When it became clear to me that my architect boss expected me to also do the structural design, my response was to review my textbooks and jump into it. Only months later did my boss confess that he had mistaken me for a job applicant with a structural background when I was hired. The houses are still standing!

After being laid off, a colleague and I decided to start our own firm during a slow economy. At the age of thirty, I was not prepared for all of the responsibilities of managing a practice.  I did a lot of homework, worked the typical long hours, and I learned a tremendous amount from the experience.

What advice do you have for an emerging professional?

Read. Watch. Listen. Practice. Self-designed, constant continuing education is a great way to improve competence and build confidence. Don’t be afraid to try new things, and don’t let learning opportunities go by. Fear of failure is the most crippling thing. Know that you can succeed, even if it means learning from multiple failures along the way.

Why did you choose to get involved with AIA Colorado as a member, volunteer and now board member?

I wanted to feel I was a part of the profession, beyond the daily interactions with coworkers.  One of my first employers was very proud of his AIA membership and became president of the AIA Los Angeles chapter. He was a great influence and role model, and I joined AIA the year after I was first licensed. I attended an awards banquet in Boulder one year, met many of the members, and saw for the first time how I might make a contribution.

What part of the 2019 workplan are you most excited about?

I am most excited by the opportunities to mentor emerging professionals and interact with colleagues in other firms in Northern Colorado.

What do you think are the largest opportunities for architects in Colorado right now?

While the construction market is always vulnerable to national and world economic shifts, I believe that Colorado presents many opportunities for architects in the areas of health care, assisted living and affordable housing, as these are needs that will not go away with any possible recession. Beyond practice, I hope more architects will become activists and leaders in areas of environmental protection, transportation and sustainable communities.

What are the largest challenges for architects in Colorado right now?

I see the trend toward firm consolidation as a real challenge to architects who wish to maintain a smaller firm size and remain competitive. I also see unresolved issues in construction defects laws as an economic and liability challenge, especially for small firms.

Where do you see the profession going in the future?

I expect that the U.S. construction industry will eventually catch up to other countries in pursuing prefabrication and alternate building systems and materials. Architects must educate and prepare themselves to not only take part in this evolution but to lead it. Design-build will almost certainly become a more and more popular project delivery method, and I hope architects will find more ways to lead in that approach. Sustainable design will become the norm, as codes and other standards continue to raise the bar.

What do you like to do outside of work and service?

I love travel and have spent many great weeks driving through Europe, off the beaten path.  Now, along with our amazing dog Indy, we have begun to take more road trips throughout the U.S. and Canada this year. Genealogy has become a bit of an addiction for me in recent years.  If there is any time left over, I enjoy my attempts at oil painting.

Anything else you’d like to add?

My career, so far, has been filled with variety, challenges and amazing people. I thank my business partners and coworkers for making my very gradual transition in the general direction of retirement a pleasant, rewarding and productive one.