I Am AIA:
Melissa grew up in a logging town of just 250 people in the Cascade Mountains. When she was young, her uncle taught her to use power tools, sparking a lifelong interest in the building industry. She went on to earn two BA degrees from Scripps College and a Master of Architecture degree from the Illinois Institute of Technology. Melissa is now a licensed Architect in Washington, an AIA member, a Certified Construction Specifier, and has passed the CSI’s CDT exam. She has worked in a variety of roles and companies from a small construction defects/owner’s representative firm to one of the largest design firms in the world.
WHY ARE YOU INTERESTED IN SERVING ON THE AIA SEATTLE BOARD OF DIRECTORS?
As cheesy as it sounds, volunteering for industry organizations has truly enriched not just my career but also my life. We’re in a small and collaborative industry so the more of us that succeed, the better off we all are. I want to help AIA Seattle reach as many of our colleagues as possible to help them flourish and reach heights they didn’t realize were possible. Especially during/after the pandemic, it’s so easy to isolate ourselves from one another, but I’ve found that the true value of this industry is in its personal relationships. One of the most efficient ways to develop those relationships is through an organization – by volunteering and helping one another. I’m excited that AIA Seattle is working to reach out to those in our Chapter who don’t live within King County and bringing them opportunities so we can all thrive regardless of location or access.
WHY DID YOU JOIN AIA SEATTLE?
I originally joined AIA Seattle because I was working on achieving my license. I stayed because I value the connections, outlook and education the organization provides.
WHAT IS THE VALUE OF AIA TO YOU?
For me, the value is in relationships – both personal and professional. The relationships I’ve gained through volunteering have fundamentally changed my career from even the most basic levels and have formed some of my strongest friendships. Through volunteering for AIA Seattle, I hope to give back so others can experience that same growth.
WHAT RELATIONSHIPS HAVE YOU CREATED?
Too many to count!
WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO CONTRIBUTE FROM YOUR WORK?
To make the world a better place for users of the buildings I’m specifying. In particular, I love specifying for healthcare because it’s so easy to see an immediate impact. For example, my cousin’s child has cystic fibrosis. He had to be admitted into a hospital for about two weeks for a lung cleanout, and they happened to be placed in a suite that I specified. It was wonderful to see how different their stay was this time around because of the excellent work by our team. Instead of having to focus on logistics, bathroom and shower access, or other similar worries, my cousin was able to place all her focus on the wellbeing of her child.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SEATTLE-AREA STRUCTURE?
I tried to narrow it down but just can’t! I love a different piece of so many structures – the view from the Columbia Tower Club’s women’s restroom at Columbia Center, the greenery contrasting against the structure of the Amazon Spheres, the top floor speakeasy at the Smith Tower, the sustainability story of the Bullitt Center, the arches of the Pacific Science Center, the planters at Freeway Park, almost everything about the Seattle underground, the 17th floor patio at Russel Investments Center, the brick gradation of the Seattle Tower, the walruses on the Arctic Building… and so on!
IF YOU COULD SUM UP YOUR OUTLOOK ON LIFE IN A BUMPER STICK, WHAT WOULD IT SAY?