About Me Architecture

What I learned in Architecture School


Yesterday I shared the principles I have during my workday. I have many other personal desires, but my most enjoyable pass-time is to travel.

My husband and I work to travel. We are, as you know, avid hikers. Our last trip to Italy focused on family. Traveling with a few other people made my husband and I experience northern Italy like we hadn’t on our honeymoon -we went into many more churches, for example. But, I had less time to write and draw, considering the interest of many is constantly changing. As an architect, my vacations are where I rejuvenate creatively and mentally. Outside of vacation I need to develop a routine that balances my creative spirit in an office environment, which is why I practice my four beliefs as described yesterday.

How I got to this point, after 11 years in the profession of architecture has been influenced by my past. The part of me that wants to put my creative growth into my work, and the belief that I should came from my experience at Virginia Tech. To be idealistic is what a young architect learns in school. What we create affects the world for good. Upon our shoulders is the responsibility to design well and build sustainable architecture. I am encouraged that with my knowledge I can help others build the shelters they need, and enable the life they are born to seek. I am also encouraged that I live in an area of West Virginia that is booming in growth, one that has an acclaimed University (WVU) with many students and academic minds.

The type of work that a firm completes begins with the type of client each firm attracts. The project must support how I want to grow professionally, to enable creative advancement. Architects are like artists in that way. My university experience pushed me to find my passion, which is research and drawing. (Luckily I’ve just started a Master of Architecture at Fairmont State and I can continue on this path!) The open studio environment and discussions that students of architecture uncover are limitless in their bounds, and this is the artistic part of what I can do every day. Architecture is work that reveals itself after practice, and to do this the architect must practice. Practice, seek, look from a different perspective, focus and keep working.

So, if it is ideal that the type of work you do every day supports these thoughts, and at times I feel caught in paperwork, how do I find something within that to allow growth? It could be hidden in the talents of co-workers. At the very least it starts with communication.

Photo by Huffington Post

About Me Architecture

How does a Project Manager continue to be an Architect?


Eleven years an architect, and what I can show for my work each day seems unrelated to architecture. Are my young co-workers carrying out the tasks I miss completing myself? I miss drawing, I miss figuring out the details and having the opportunity to draft them with my own attention (bye bye AutoCAD.)

I’ve worked with a couple different firms in the last decade. Time slipped by comfortably when there were many licensed architects in a small-sized firm. The position I held before the one I hold now differed in size and in number of projects. At it’s best, the 6-person firm had two lead architects, an office manager, and three young professionals (at the point of taking license exams). At this size we each filled one another’s gaps easily because we sat in the same room and could listen. (Not that this was always preferred, but…) Our office manager was in charge and knew something about our last-minute-loving, architect-like schedules.

My role has changed since then, and I am part of an 11-person group in Morgantown. (Wheeling has five more.) Being with a larger firm means, overall, that there are more projects and people, of course. I now lead younger designers and many projects, or larger projects at once, instead of focusing on one. I’ve struggled recently with how to maintain the sense of being an architect with the many tasks of coordination that an architect in my position maintains. Some days I feel like I only respond to colleagues questions, answer the phone and check email. As a leader I’d like to share my attraction to architecture with others. Our current Mills Group team is creative and technologically advanced. I’d like to share the part of me that believes in what architecture can do for humanity in the work I do every day. I do believe that no matter what I’m doing, I can be fulfilled and I’d like to share that. I’d love input from others in a project manager position. The best thing I can think to do is the following:

1. Focus on one task at hand. Do this by turning off distractions, and by organizing time with colleagues to discuss questions all at once.

2. Move away from the computer. I set aside 3-4 hours in my day at my stand-up desk. I red-line and review real paper and can draw.

3. Take lunch. Move around, take a walk, read a book. The mind needs to rest to be able to focus for the remaining workday.

4. Encourage drawing. I began a Sketchy Friday event a few weeks ago. We’ve only met once, but I really enjoyed the hour of drawing with my colleague (hopefully more show up next time!). I also encourage being at the location of the project to determine design solutions. Go on site! The best place to draw what will be is to draw where it will be.

Sketchy Friday