What is your background?
After taking a drafting class in high school I decided I wanted to be an architect. I didn’t really know what that meant, but it sounded good, so I went with it. I attended the University of Colorado Boulder for my bachelor’s and University of Colorado Denver for my Master’s. During grad school I worked at a small historic preservation firm that did a lot of grant writing for rural projects. I graduated in the middle of the recession which led me to a handful of jobs outside the profession, one of which was at a medical office/hospital. When I did re-enter the field, I started back up at Davis Partnership working on the replacement hospital for Saint Joseph’s in downtown Denver, seeing it all the way through from design to occupied building – a very rewarding experience. I finally got tired of sacrificing so much of my life in the car commuting from Colorado Springs to Denver, so I switched to a local Colorado Springs firm, RTA. I work on a variety of healthcare and education projects and am currently working on the new visitor’s center on the summit of Pikes Peak.
What firm are you currently with and how long have you been there?
RTA Architects, 4 years.
What have been some of your favorite/proudest projects to work on?
Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Denver (with Davis Partnership when I worked there), Saint Francis Medical Center Expansion and the Pikes Peak Summit House.
What have been some of the biggest challenges in your career and how did you overcome them?
I have had some very unique roles on some of the larger projects that have given me a very specialized skill set, but also put me a little behind in other skill sets that I wasn’t developing and using during that time. I am currently working to overcome that by seeking out opportunities where I can work on projects to help me develop those lacking skill sets. The newest and definitely biggest career challenge I am facing currently is being a new working mom. It’s probably one of the hardest things I have had to do in life in general! I am just taking things one day at a time right now while I try to find some semblance of “balance!”
What advice do you have for an emerging professional?
Ask questions! Get involved! Advocate for yourself! Put in the work! Find someone both inside and outside your office who can mentor you – it doesn’t have to be an arranged official mentorship relationship. Just find someone who you can trust and feel comfortable asking questions with. Get involved in things that excite you. Strive to establish and keep a healthy work-life balance!
Why did you choose to get involved with AIA Colorado as a member, volunteer and now board member?
I originally chose to get involved with AIA as a way to stay connected to the industry when I was fresh out of grad school and couldn’t find a job in the field in 2010. I was awarded a stipend from AIA Colorado (at the time, it was the south chapter) to cover membership dues of a young professional as long as they agreed to be involved in the chapter. I have sat on the local board in one capacity or another since 2011. I continue to be involved in AIA because I want to be a face and a voice of architects/architecture in my community. I want to make a difference in my community. I want to bring the professionals in my community together to act as a united front to tackle tough issues that our industry is facing, and to help the general public understand the importance and beauty of good architecture and for camaraderie. I feel like my years of experience at the local level have allowed me to earn the trust of my peers and a reputation that I will speak up and advocate for our needs.
What part of the 2019 workplan are you most excited about?
I am most excited about the Emerging Professionals Bootcamp and the mentorship program.
What do you think are the largest opportunities for architects in Colorado right now?
Since the local economy is booming with growth, there are many opportunities on a wide variety of project types.
What are the largest challenges for architects in Colorado right now?
The three main challenges I think we are facing in Colorado right now are all tied to how busy the industry is.
- I think firms across the board are struggling to find qualified new hires. We are all so busy that the market is extremely competitive! And because we are so busy, we have less time to provide quality training and mentorship from within for younger, less experienced hires.
- I think some firms are also struggling to fill the gap that the last recession created. What I mean by that is the layoff in 2010 left the 30-something crowd working outside the profession for several years and now that they have returned there is a larger than normal gap in experience between the previous leadership and the professionals that should be the up and coming leadership.
- Construction quality is another struggle we are facing. Contractors are also struggling to find skilled laborers and because of that, they are short-handed and in many cases, producing sub-par work.
Where do you see the profession going in the future?
I see the profession becoming more collaborative within the industry. We have already been seeing things like Integrated Project Delivery, which require the contractor, designers and tradespeople to all work closely together – I think things will continue to trend this direction with IPD becoming more of a widely used project delivery method.
What do you like to do outside of work and service?
I am an avid trail runner. One of those crazy types that loves running 50-100 mile races for “fun!” I also love throwing around heavy weights at my CrossFit gym, hot yoga, a good stout and enjoying laughs with my husband and son!