Introducing Kristen

Second Installment of Appreciation Shares

Kristen and I met at an Atlanta firm around 2007 and connected quickly as co-workers and fellow architects. I enjoyed working on a team with her valuing her insights, design ideas and opinions on how best to execute a project successfully.

Together, Kristen and I experienced the slowing construction market in 2009 that lead us on different work and personal journeys.

I am highlighting Kristen today as an individual I admire and appreciate due to her ability to manage a team to achieve a wonderful end user design and project of quality. While she is driven and direct to the point, Kristen communicates her thoughts and ideas in a professional and respectful manner which is not a skill every professional has.

Architecture is a blend of the artistic with science driven facts leading to a community of thinkers with strong opinions. Not everyone balances an opinion with supportive or constructive sharing of ideas but Kristen finds this balance. Her talent and ability to work with a diverse community of thinkers brought her to a leadership position in a firm and a strong support network of clients, colleagues and friends.

Kristen, what drew you to study architecture and ultimately the practice as a licensed professional?

My professional work experience started with a firm in San Francisco working on construction projects as an administrator/cost controller. I loved seeing work built and I enjoyed the construction practices, however my artistic side needed to be satisfied. As you mentioned there is a technical and artistic aspect to the profession which suited me well.

When my husband at the time, and I relocated to Chicago I had the opportunity to go back to school and pursue a degree in Architecture and realize my dream. My goal was always to become a licensed Architect. Licensure opens the door to many opportunities in the profession. Also, I did not feel comfortable referring to myself and as an Architect until I had the license as that was the climate I grew up in as an Architect.

Is there a style of architecture or project type that you prefer?

To design a successful project it is key to become intimately involved with the end user and understand their daily needs. I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to work with so many different professionals in different fields.

Working on projects in higher education I met professors of philosophy, film production, physics and many other specialties. It was a range of personalities. I truly enjoyed the opportunity to design a makerspace, physic labs, offices, and classrooms for them.

In Healthcare, early in my career, I met with surgeons and nurses for guidance in designing operating rooms, efficient nursing stations, support spaces, and patient rooms.

I have also worked with developers in the Hospitality industry, both in new construction and renovation projects. Collaborating with Designers to create high level guest experience hotel rooms and lobbies was always exciting. Smartly designing support spaces, conference space, restaurant space and back of house areas was a challenge in hospitality projects, but I loved it and always strived to create the most functional space for the operations team.

A couple unique design opportunities I had exposure to was working with the Atlanta Police Department on the design for a drug lab and forensic firing range. and working on design and renovation of military barracks and massive military storage facilities. Getting a to peek into the lifestyle was a fascinating experience.

Finally, and most recently I have enjoyed residential work. It is a privilege to work with individuals to help build their dream home.

I can’t say I prefer one project type over another. It is the opportunity to collaborate with and get to know some many great people from different walks of life over the years that is most satisfying.

Can you advise young architects on how to manage working on a team of professionals and best communication practices?

Yes, I love to mentor younger Architects!

My first piece of advice is learn to write well and be thorough!! Every email you send should be able to be read by anyone and the subject matter clearly understood. Always CYA conversations in person, on the phone, and text messages with an email; it will create a paper trail for yourself.

Better to over-communicate than under communicate. Sometimes it is better to pick up the phone and talk it out as text messages can go awry quickly. Nothing will get resolved without confrontation. Do not be afraid to challenge an opinion but do so tactfully and at the appropriate time.

Never be afraid to admit you made a mistake, I promise you will, we all do! The old saying, “you don’t know what you don’t know” is very relevant in this profession.

Thank you Kristen for your time, talent and leadership in the architecture profession!