Why did you join AIA Seattle?

I first got involved with AIA Seattle through the Practice & Ethics committee, after taking an architectural ethics course at the University of Washington toward my Master of Architecture degree. I found it to be  a way to contribute to a valuable dialogue, and once I became a member I soon discovered the other benefits – attending seminars, Honor Awards, AIA COTE events, and using AIA national resources as well.

What is the value of AIA to you?

For me, AIA, is a support network, a safety net, and a home base to connect with architects wrestling with similar questions, to celebrate our achievements. It’s also a great source for continuing education to stay current with a fast-evolving industry, for advocacy at the local, state, and national level, and as an interface with the broader community.

What project are you working on now?

I am doing construction administration for a boutique, sustainable office project in Fremont showcasing energy efficiency and very progressive stormwater mitigation, and in the early design phase for a similar office project. I am also updating the firm’s Sustainability Action Plan and working on a few firm wide initiatives such as portfolio tracking for the AIA 2030 Commitment, and improvements to our own office space in the Terry Thomas building — observing and influencing human behavior to take a high-performance building even further toward energy reduction goals.

How do you explain what you do for a living?

I generally start with the basics: “I’m an architect.” Most people have a particular perception of what that is from movies and television. Many respond with “I wanted to do architecture, but I was no good at math.” Which opens up a dialogue about all the things that architects do; a combination of left-brain and right-brain thinking, both science and art, tangible product and big ideas. At its heart is multivariate logic puzzles and problem solving, project and issue management, and dealing well with ambiguity and shades of gray. Many people I talk to about my job walk away with a slightly new understanding of what architects do. I like having that conversation.

What inspired you today?

A pleasantly disruptive new model for co-working space that can supplement traditional office buildings.

Where is the field of architecture, engineering or construction headed?

More than specific tools, processes and technologies, I think a more impactful trend for architecture is the move toward a better understanding of the financial drivers of buildings. This helps architects better meet the needs of clients, so that good design is not perceived to be in conflict with the financial goals of the building owner.

Can design save the world?

Yes, but only if architects become better listeners! I feel that we (architects) still have an outdated sense that we know how people should live, work, and play; and if a space or building is “unsuccessful” we think people aren’t “using it right.” This is backwards; the alternative is to observe and listen, and make design responsive and flexible, to embrace “long life, loose fit” and to recognize human nature as messy, and beautiful in its messiness.

If you could sum up your outlook on life in a bumper sticker, what would it say?