It’s fun to talk about how to find what you are good at, and what those talents are, so they can be easily incorporated into every day. The drawing obsession of mine began while traveling as a student of architecture at Virginia Tech. My fall semester of 2002 was spent on a bus with 35 students and a handful of professors.
Cathedral Photo by CED Berkeley
My first job at Kendall/Heaton Associates pushed me to work on construction documents for two years. I was fortunate to work under Rex H. Wooldridge, Steve Bell, and Joon. These men formed the foundation of detailed work and dedication to the profession that I still lean on today. After working in Houston, TX I moved to Ohio to work solely on a house project for my parents. Needing to find an expert in the area, I sought out Victor Greco, a mid-career architect practicing in Wheeling with SMG Architects (now Mills Group.) He invited me into the Wheeling, WV office and I easily found the job that would take me into the next phase of my architecture career. SMG supported me to take the ARE exams, and I became a licensed architect in 2009. In 2013 SMG split and became SM+P Architects in Baltimore while Victor merged with Mills Group. I moved to Morgantown, WV to work for the Mills Group shortly after this change.
In the last year I have drawn three hotels, one small hotel project has been completed while the other is under construction here in Morgantown. The third one desperately wants to rise off of the drawing board. I have worked on two local residential projects that required additions, helped one interior residential project, and have continued to work on one large renovation that is going on 2 1/2 years. In the last few weeks as Marriott has moved fully into construction administration I’ve jumped on a university renovation project about to go out to bid as the final set-of-eyes over the documents, and am working on a small theater renovation in southern WV. I have a wide range of tasks that seems to change every day. I look forward to a mix-use project that is to begin in three weeks. Mills Group has responsibility over the design, and I can enjoy the freedom that comes with decision-making in my work.
All of the above is just my work. There are about 8 total project managers in this firm who draw off of a pool of three to five young designers across the two offices. With more people and more projects it is important for the structure of the firm to have a strong project schedule. Easier said than done when we are in a constant search to answer RFP’s or interview for new work. Projects have different levels of service, and each one continues to move along a different deadline.
One of my most talented colleagues who is currently completing her Master of Architecture at Lawrence Tech while working full-time suggested I read Project Management for Design Professionals. As a few of us continue to develop Gantt charts to schedule people and projects, I begin to understand how important it is for a healthy firm to balance talent, expertise, and time management.