Meet the Emerging Leaders Class of 2017

AIA Virginia’s award-winning Emerging Leaders in Architecture (ELA) program was developed to jump-start the careers of young professionals. Conceived of and lead by a passionate steering committee of successful architects, the program was designed to share the things they wished they had learned in architecture school.

Each of the seven day-long-sessions focuses on developing essential skills like financial management, communication and negotiation, advocacy and public service, and much more.

Want to be a member of this elite group of leaders? The application for the 2018 class will be available later this summer. Contact Marshall Dreiling for information on how to nominate an emerging leader or with any questions about the program.

We asked members of the ELA class of 2017 the same five questions, here are their inspiring answers.

 

Katie Atwater

Q: What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?

A: Last fall as part of Doors Open Baltimore, I had the opportunity to visit the Baltimore Basilica for the first time.    The cathedral itself is awe inspiring, but the best part was going down to the undercroft.  The masonry work itself was well worth the visit!

Q: What is the last book you read?

A: Last book I finished was A Man Called Ove and I’m currently reading The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck and Homo Deus, A Brief History of Tomorrow.

Q: How did you discover your passion for architecture? 

A: I was introduced to the field of architecture the summer after my freshman year in high school when I was bored and my mom made me get a summer job at the architecture firm in her office building.  My passion for architecture came out of a love for both science and art from a young age.  I always loved building things, even when they didn’t make sense to anyone but me (pillow forts were the best!).

Q: What is your favorite thing to do to relax?

A: Go to a Nationals game.

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring architects?

A: Don’t be afraid to ask questions. No one but yourself expects you to know everything.  Admit when you don’t know something, and make it your mission to learn. If you don’t understand why something is done a certain way ask.  Either you’ll learn a lot, or you’ll affect change when the person you’re asking will realize there’s a better way.

 

Adreon Bell

Q: What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?

A: The expansion of the Musée National des Beaux-arts du Québec (MNBAQ), is a project with incredibly fascinating details that can be illuminated with simple design. The expansion, designed by OMA, adjacent to the classical cathedral, creates a new creative link between religion, urban vistas, and modern architecture.

Q: What is the last book you read?

A: The last book I read was Contagious by Jonah Berger. The book provides an analytical description on why some ideas come to fruition overnight, while others are unfulfilled. It also explains in a thought- provoking way, how word of mouth and social influence work to make an idea or project contagious.

Q: How did you discover your passion for architecture?

A: Being the son of military service members, and traveling around the world has awarded myself a different perspective on culture, the arts, and architecture. However, it was not until my freshman year of high school when I took my first AutoCAD course that I became fascinated with the field. My natural curiosity and that fascination led my passion for architecture towards continued learning and research, in hopes of mastering the discipline.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do to relax?

A: I own a bright orange 1979 Chevrolet El Camino, which was my first dream car as a child. I love taking it out for a drive, any chance the weather is warm and sunny. It is the most relaxing feeling in the world to me because I feel like I’m driving through Hampton Roads in my own personal time machine.

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring architects?

A: My words of wisdom would be, let ambition and curiosity be your driving force. Many aspiring architects get bogged down within the inner workings of a firm. Never settle; you can see, do, or become anything you want with focus and determination. Be the individual who loves learning and not the individual who knows it all. The world is yours

 

Claude Leopold Breithaupt 

Q: What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?

A: The Pantheon embodies materiality and structural expression in its purest form, resulting in a simple yet powerful architecture that reminds one that good design is timeless.

Q: What is the last book you read?

A: Dawn of Art: The Chauvet Cave. Watching my 3yo daughter draw using line quality to render perspective got me thinking about the origins of art and artists. The rendering done by some of our earliest ancestors is exceptionally advanced and shows that art and artists have been an integral part of human culture from the beginning. Highly recommend anyone that isn’t familiar with these paintings check it out.

Q: How did you discover your passion for architecture?

A: A visit to Kahn’s Kimball Art Museum early in my architectural education really solidified in my mind what I understood to be good architecture, and still serves as inspiration. I knew then I had chosen the right career.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do to relax?

A: Scuba diving is the epitome of a controlled breathing exercise, and is like traveling to another world. Backcountry hiking/backpacking is a great way to reconnect with nature, mind, and body. I have hiked in the Olympic and Cascade ranges in the PNW, Crater Lake, Yellowstone, and Yosemite, and hope to hike the Appalachian trail someday.

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring architects?

A: The term “professionally poor” is real, but don’t think you have to spend the rest of your career being paid a small fraction of your billing rate working for someone else. Dylan said “The times, they are a-changin’,” and the days of working your way up the ladder to partnership at a firm for most of your life before you are considered an architect are numbered. With online marketing and social media outlets, one can generate publicity without relying on well-established branding to bring in work. If you build it (well) they will come. Aim high and don’t be afraid to be independent. It’s risky and more work, but I immensely enjoy answering the question “who do you work for?”

 

Che Clark

Q: What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?

A: Not really one building/ structure, but the entire World Trade Center site.  I was recently in NYC for a business trip and my hotel room overlooked the WTC site.  I remember everything that happened the morning of September 11th very vividly and visited the site almost a decade ago.  To see the transformation from then until now is truly remarkable.  One World Trade Center Plaza is pretty amazing in itself – but Michael Arad’s design for the memorial is very powerful and Davis Brody Bond’s Museum (along with Snohetta’s design for the entrance Pavilion to the Museum) complements its well making for a very powerful piece of Architecture.  It is definitely something I would recommend anyone who visits NYC to take the time to go visit.

Q: What is the last book you read?

A: Since I am actively taking the ARE – I don’t have much time for other reading, but Vince Flynn is one of my favorite authors at this time. The last book of his I read was American Assassin.

Q: How did you discover your passion for architecture?

A: I was exposed to the profession from an early age because my Father is an Architect.  It is something that always interested me and it seems like something I always knew in my mind I would end up doing – the path to get there was just always up in the air.  I took a somewhat circuitous route to end up where I am – but I think I always knew in the end, that Architecture was going to be my career choice.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do to relax?

Hang out with Family and Friends.  My wife and I are lucky enough to live in the same neighborhood with friends of ours that we have known for a very long time.  Watching all of our kids grow up and play together on a daily basis is the best.  Our favorite spot to relax is the beach and since we only live a few miles away, we spent a lot of our free time there.

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring architects?

A: Follow your passion.  Architecture, as a profession, has many different avenues in which you can pursue a career.  Whatever it is that interests you – find that niche and follow through.  The most important thing is to find what speaks to you and try to mold your career around that passion.

 

Barry Collier

Q: What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?

A: Not a specific building, but a type – Cathedrals.  The scale and details show all the craftsmanship and skill that was needed to design and build.

Q: What is the last book you read?

A: Right now I have been alternating between code books and the Louden Melrose / Shenandoah West Neighborhood Transformation Plan.  The Neighborhood Transformation Plan provides a lot of insight into the area of our ELA class project.

Q: How did you discover your passion for architecture?

A: For as long as I can remember I have always wanted to be an architect.  I started by drawing the childhood homes of my parents as a child.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do to relax?

A: Cookout on the grill with a good beer and spend time with my family.

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring architects?

A: Take risks, move somewhere completely new, and get out of your comfort zone. Your experience as an aspiring architect, good or bad, will influence you throughout your entire career.

 

Jamie MacNichol

Q: What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?

A: La Tourette by Le Corbusier, especially the chapel. I had the opportunity to stay there for two days, which were some of the most relaxing in recent memory.

Q: What is the last book you read?

A: The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell.

Q: How did you discover your passion for architecture?

A: Legos, when I was younger I would always build things with them. After building a set, I’d always take them apart and make my own creations.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do to relax?

A: Play guitar, though I don’t get the chance to play as much as I would like to anymore.

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring architects?

A: As I am still an aspiring architect, I would say to never stop learning. Be aware that you don’t know everything and never be afraid ask questions. If someone is willing to impart wisdom, be willing listen.

 

Awais Mahmood

Q: What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently – either positive or negative?

A: The Lerner Hall, at Columbia University, has always been an inspiring piece of architecture for me. The “Glass House” is a 5-story curtain wall structure, which connects the ground floor to the floors above with a series of structural glass ramps and stairs. Walking up those suspended ramps gives a sensation of floating.

Q: What is the last book you read?

A: I prefer audio books, as they always seem to go faster than reading. The last book I read though, would be Born To Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall. The book was inspiring enough for me to do my Architecture Thesis on it.

Q: How did you discover your passion for architecture?

A: I have always been good at Arts and in 6th grade was told I have a future in Architecture. Needless to say, ever since I aspired to become an Architect. Growing up in Dubai, U.A.E. and seeing all the astonishing buildings around, added fuel to the passion.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do to relax?

A: Anything that breaks up the monotony of a daily routine will do. If I had to pick, I would go with either cuddling with the kids on the couch, to watch a movie or watching them play while using their endless imagination.

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring architects?

A: Embrace technology advancement, yet never stop hand sketching. In a technology driven society, that is the one talent, as Architects, we need to hold onto. Computers work fast, but the brain to hand coordination will always out do a computer.

 

Corey McCalla

Q: What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?

A: VCU’s Institute for Contemporary Art, by Steven Holl (under construction) – I was intrigued to see a building design by Holl, one of my favorite contemporaries, in my city. I look forward to seeing it open and am curious about its life in a historic city.

Q: What is the last book you read?

A: Wool by Hugh Howey (but really it was Dream Animals: A Bedtime Journey by Emily Winfield Martin, read to my daughter 100+ times)

Q: How did you discover your passion for architecture?

A: Through my father, who is also an architect. He took me to see Kahn’s Salk Institute when I was a teenager, and it changed my life.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do to relax?

A: Seeing a film at the theater.

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring architects?

A: Look for inspiration in every aspect of your life. Whether it comes from traveling, or reading, or film, or simply comes from a conversation at a bar, one can be inspired at any time. And never stop asking questions.

 

Andrew McKinley

Q: What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?

A: What is the last book you read? Architect’s Essentials of Ownership Transition by Peter Piven. For fun, Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak along with hundreds of other children’s books with my daughter!

Q: How did you discover your passion for architecture?

A: I always enjoyed drawing, painting, and sculpture and intended to pursue a formal education and career in art.  During my sophomore year of high school, my art class performed a research project on well-known buildings and their architects; I selected I.M. Pei’s entrance to the Louvre.  The energy invested on this exercise opened my eyes to the opportunity to pursue art as a profession on a large scale.  I was hooked.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do to relax?

A: Going to the beach and just about anything with my wife and daughter.

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring architects?

A: Be vocal about your goals and opportunities you wish to pursue.  Build your knowledge base as broad and as quickly as you can.  Seek out a good mentor; someone willing to invest time in you and advocate on your behalf.  Soak up the knowledge of experienced members your office by finding out what skillsets they excel at and asking as many questions as they are willing to answer.

 

Chris Moore

Q: What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?

A: The Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Brock Environmental Center.  Not only do I appreciate the thought, design and innovation put into to making it as site friendly as possible, I use the wind turbines as a gauge for water conditions every time I head into or out of the inlet.

Q: What is the last book you read?

A: For Leisure: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde; For Inspiration: Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon; For Work:  The Florida Building Code 5th Edition, Chapter 10

Q: How did you discover your passion for architecture?

A: In high school, I enjoyed problem solving and technical drawing. Architecture was the next logical step.  It was only later that I discovered it as a theory and an art form.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do to relax?

A: Anything on, in or under the water.

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring architects?

A: Often the “default” solution is the right solution.

 

Theresa Mozinski

Q: What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?

A: The renderings for the design of a vertical farm in the Sunqiao Urban Agricultural District designed by Sasaki Associates.  The building is a mixed use, hydroponic vertical farm, and education center amidst the urban fabric of Shanghai. I think it is a beautiful and exciting solution to start to supplement the loss of vast amounts of farmland to rapid urbanization.

Q: What is the last book you read?

A: The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk

Q: How did you discover your passion for architecture?

A: When I was seven years old my parents renovated their house.  I decided to take matters into my own hands and drew a set of CD’s, complete with a second-floor window to backyard water slide.  They ultimately went with the documents generated by the design professional that they had hired, but I’m still striving for that water slide.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do to relax?

A: Run, draw, or play my saxophone.

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring architects?

A: Work hard, push boundaries, and don’t forget to have fun!

 

Gareth Ratti

Q: What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?

A: The Shard by Renzo Piano had a positive impact on me when I saw it visiting my family and friends back in the UK. The scale of it was immense and I loved how it seemed to pierce the surrounding city landscape. The views from the top were breathtaking.

Q: What is the last book you read?

A: DADA by Jimmy Fallon. I love getting to read this to my newborn girl.

Q: How did you discover your passion for architecture?

A: I always enjoyed visualizing rooms in my house when I was a child and letting my imagination come up with new concepts on how they would look at function. I would also think about my dream home and what it would look like and then I would then start thinking about creating larger buildings that would make an impact in my community.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do to relax?

A: As soon as I get home I love to play with my newborn baby girl. It doesn’t matter how busy my day has been; she always makes me smile. I also love to play and watch sports and go to the gym.

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring architects?

A: Always be open to learning no matter what the project is. Even the smallest of jobs that don’t seem glamorous can have many different things to learn from. Don’t compare yourself to others and don’t try to be someone that you are not.

 

Amanda Schlichting

Q: What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?

A: The Belvedere Gardens Mausoleum in Salem, VA by SMBW. Its physical and metaphorical connection to the surrounding landscape creates a strong sense of place.

Q: What is the last book you read?

A: Kaplan’s Site Planning & Design Study Guide since I’m in the middle of exams.

Q: How did you discover your passion for architecture?

A: I was tasked with designing my own house as part of a sixth-grade computer class. After the project ended, I started drawing every building I visited and fell in love with architecture.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do to relax?

A: Hiking, riding motorcycles, and spending time with my three dogs.

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring architects?

A: Continue to develop your skills and hobbies outside of architecture. Learn how to communicate your ideas clearly and effectively. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and never stop learning.

 

Michael Spory

Q: What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?

A: Thorncrown Chapel by E. Fay Jones, in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. The chapel sits so lightly in the forest—somehow you’re in a treehouse, a pavilion, a church, and the Ozark woods, all at the same time. And how it was constructed (every piece of lumber was no larger than could be carried by two workers) aligns with the landscape itself—one of the finest buildings in the country.

Q: What is the last book you read?

A: Garden City by John Mark Comer

Q: How did you discover your passion for architecture?

A: By accident, really. I fell in love with art and photography in college, and architecture seemed like something that took those big abstract ideas and put them into reality through design. As a farm kid, I loved the practicality of architecture alongside the possibility for creativity, so I took a risk, applied to graduate school, and kept on going.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do to relax?

A: Playing soccer. Staying active clears my head.

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring architects?

A: Make (and keep) friends and interests “unrelated” to architecture. It can easily be an all-consuming world, and relating to other ideas and people will not only keep you sane and grounded but also provide a wider array of tools to bring to your designs and practice. Economics, graphic design, literature, philosophy, music—go for it.

 

Emely Taveras

Q: What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?

A: The Basilica of Notre Dame in Montréal, CA.  It is one of the most colorful church interiors I’ve been in, it was exceptionally beautiful and inspiring.

Q: What is the last book you read?

A: The Magicians by Lev Grossman.

Q: How did you discover your passion for architecture?

A: 6th grade was the first time I said: “I’m going to be an architect.”  I drew house plans as gifts for my friends.  When my parents were looking for a new house, I loved going on tours and would study the MLS listing sheet.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do to relax?

A: Practicing yoga.  It has been a great source of inspiration and enlightenment for me.

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring architects?

A: It’s your practice, do what will make you happy and don’t lose sight of where you want to be keeping in mind that it may change as you change.

 

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