Friday Feature: Krystal

Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Krystal and I am a junior designer straddling the VIA worlds of architecture and urban design.

What made you decide to go into your field?
I used to draw the floor plans for my dream houses when I was a kid… some of them were even dimensioned (albeit arbitrarily and probably without a lot of math behind it). In high school I took technical drafting classes and attended art school for half the day. As it turns out I was obsessed with urbanism and the built environment as a subject and incorporated it into most of the work that I did in ceramics, photography, painting, drawing and sculpture. Everything from Skylines, buildings, bridges, windows, and streets all made their way into my creations. I was really excited when I made my decision to help create cities.

What did your family think of your chosen field?
They were pretty happy about my decision, not happy about the cost of my decision.

Who is the teacher who had the most influence on you and why?
Aristotelis Demitrikopolis (that is not a made up name). He was my 3rd year studio professor who insisted that the Greeks pretty much invented everything including architecture, civilization, outer space, telephones, pc computers, pencils etc. He was really hard on everyone, but he taught me the importance of designing in context and I had a major breakthrough in understanding scale in his class. Our project was to create an office building on a site in the middle of nowhere in Texas. I ended up having to design an entire city because I was so stumped as to how you inform design decisions with nothing but sand and tumbleweeds. Needless to say… I got an A and pretty much stuck to the urban realm after that.

What was the biggest hurdle you faced along your educational path? (academic, financial, motivational, family or peer pressure, outside distraction, etc.)
My biggest hurdle was Hurricane Katrina. The summer before my thesis I went home to New Orleans to research my project which was going to be a short transit line between New Orleans and the north shore. When the hurricane came, not only did we lose our house and all of my research, but I also lost my project’s theoretical ridership (since over half of the city’s residents had left). I adapted my thesis however and expanded the network to the suburbs to the north and created TOD’s everywhere. It’s really funny now to read my thesis… I had no language for what I just described. Thanks VIA ;)

What inspires you?
Music!!!!! Art. Technology. TED. Nature. Music.

What schooling is required for success in your career?
Bachelor’s degree in Architecture although a master’s would probably be desirable.

What kind of people are the most successful in your field? Are there any specific attributes?
Oh wow, that’s a tough question. It takes a whole lot of people with a lot of different attributes to make a successful team. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

What is the best advice you were ever given?
The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Thanks Bucky ;)

Is your field growing? (ie. is there room for new entries and is there career growth?)
Growth is a funny word. There is always room for people who want to develop their skills and push forward for what they believe is positive and influential change.

What advice would you give someone considering a career like yours?

Slow down. Take time off to think about it. I fast tracked through my masters in architecture, but if I would have slowed down, I realize I would have chosen a different path. Urban Design would have suited me better, but thanks to VIA I get to do both!