Friday Feature: Amanda

Who are you and what do you do?
I’m an intern architect, working in the transit and urban design sector, an area I never would have imagined myself while in school. And yet I find myself loving it!

What made you decide to go into your field?
After graduating high school, I only had a vague idea of what I wanted to do. I figured I would go into engineering since I knew I had a fairly analytical mind but it just didn’t get me all that excited. So I went to community college at BCC for two years where I took an architecture history course as an elective and absolutely loved it. I was fascinated by how much personal and artistic expression went into architecture and I enjoyed hearing about the unique stories associated with every building. After that, I was sold – and off to architecture school I went.

What did your family think of your chosen field?
My family was pretty happy about it actually. They felt like it would be a good blend of engineering and art. Coming from an apparel designer (my mother) and an artists/sign-maker (my father), it’s funny that being an architect hadn’t dawned on me earlier.

Who is the teacher who had the most influence on you and why?
That is really hard for me to answer because I feel like I had a number of really good professors who each taught me aspects of who I am (as a designer). However, there is one professor from my graduate studies, Paul Hirzel, who taught me that being passionate about my work is what truly opens the door to good design. Without a personal connection to your designs, a building will remain merely raw material without soul.

What was the biggest hurdle you faced along your educational path? (academic, financial, motivational, family or peer pressure, outside distraction, etc.)
I have a tendency to get extremely absorbed into whatever I put my mind and efforts toward and while this is great for accomplishing educational goals, it puts a huge strain on your ties with family. So for me, my hurdle was and still is learning to let go sometimes so I can enjoy my family.

What inspires you?
A lot of things inspire me - beauty of the landscape, the underdogs of the world, the bond within communities, good books, music, painting…the list can go on forever.

What schooling is required for success in your career?
A bachelor’s in architecture is all that is really required but a master’s degree is even better. However, if we aren’t talking about just qualifications and certificates, then I would say taking an art or sketching class and getting outside the United States and doing some traveling.

What kind of people are the most successful in your field? Are there any specific attributes?
People who are capable of working as team members and who are capable of walking the fine line between art and the reality of function.

What is the best advice you were ever given?
It is better to have one simple but strong idea than to have a million weak ones.

Is your field growing? (ie. is there room for new entries and is there career growth?)
Of course there is! This is perhaps one of those rare times in our country where we will see leaps and bounds in many professions as they struggle to collaborate in order to be more efficient and unique than the rest. And that means using the knowledge and new ideas of students just coming out of school that can bring their energy as well as dreams with them.

What advice would you give someone considering a career like yours?
If you find yourself going through the motions but never really finding any passion in what you are doing, it's time to get out. Architecture, more than many other professions, is not worth the time, energy, and stress if you don’t love both the process and the outcome. It’s brutal but true.