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Women in Architecture
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LETTER AIANYS Executive Director’s Letter....................................................................... 5
WOMEN IN ARCHITECTURE Beyond the Glass Ceiling: Looking Forward Beats Looking Up | Jane Smith, FAIA...........................................................................................6-7 Role Models & Having It All | Kelly Hayes McAlonie, FAIA............................................................................ 8-9 An Immigrant Architect and Her Journey | Graciela Carrillo, AIA .................................................................................. 10-11 Use Experience to Master Your Skills | Nell Howard Price Taranto, AIA..................................................................... 12-13 The Challenges are Worth the Reward | Ofé J. Clarke, AIA.......................................................................................14-15 Find Your Niche and Go for It! | Sue McClymonds, AIA.................................................................................. 16-17 Journey to be the 315th Living African American Woman Architect | Pascale Sablan, AIA....................................................................................18-19 Exceeding All Expectations | Mary-Jean Eastman, FAIA............................................................................ 20-21
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LETTER EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S
As the daughter of an architect, I wanted to be just like my Dad. I enjoyed watching him passionately pour over his drawings that were spread across the dining room table or tagging along with him on bitter cold days to observe and explore cavern like buildings that hadn’t yet been enclosed. Someone once asked me what he did and I simply answered that he did “projects.” He was always going to visit his projects and someone was always going to meet someone to talk to him about one of his projects. As I grew older, my red brick “projects” were rarely closed in, they were massive and joined with brown logs that provided finishes different from the other kids. Kids who didn’t quite understand why I loved to design and redesign those projects. They used to say, just put the roof on, or just put the windows in. In high school, my friends looked forward to college days of going into pre-med, teaching or law school, but none were going to be an architect—how times have changed. I recently participated in Career Day at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). Not only were there many women students in the architecture program, the firms looking to recruit emerging professionals were also represented by women. While architecture school never happened for me, more and more women have come into the profession, are recognized as leaders in firms and this great organization called The American Institute of Architects. In one of my few reflective moments, the realization that those years of peering across the dining room table, or walking along muddy foundations or having to have the most bricks or logs really did prepare me for being a part of the design world and to have the privilege of working with all of you. I’d like to especially thank Sue McClymonds, featured in this issue, for recognizing my passion for architecture. Sue was instrumental in bringing me on to become a part of the AIANYS team— without realizing it, she made a little girls dream come true. The architects featured in this issue give us a view of the passionate contributions made to our communities, society and the very air we breathe. These are just a few of the dedicated professionals who make a difference in the world we live in.
Georgi Ann Bailey, CAE , Hon AIANYS Executive Director, AIANYS
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Jane Smith, FAIA, IIDA, ASID, is a business owner, a national leader in architecture, interior design and higher education, and Fellow of the American Institute of Architects. She is a Partner and founding principal of Spacesmith LLP, a certified woman-owned architecture, planning and interior design firm based in New York City. In addition to a diverse range and extensive list of professional clients, Jane has played an active role as Chair of the Interior Design Department of the School of Visual Arts from 2006-2018, and as board member for the New York State and City Chapters of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), strengthening the ties between professional architects and interior designers.
Jane Smith, FAIA, IIDA, ASID
Beyond the Glass Ceiling: Looking Forward Beats Looking Up
sked recently by a young woman graduating from architecture school if I had broken the glass ceiling, it occurred to me: I had never taken the time to ponder the ceiling in the first place. By becoming licensed at 27 years old in the ‘80s and starting my own firm, the glass didn’t need breaking. Ignoring it was enough.
Jane Smith, FAIA, IIDA, ASID
Growing up in Wyoming, my father instilled in me an alternative view: The opportunity to create our own world. As women architects and entrepreneurs, we can take a different approach to shattering the notorious glass ceiling: simply looking forward, toward the future, instead of looking up or around for those pre-existing barriers. The key is to focus on how women are moving forward, who they’re bringing along, and how far they can go. To cultivate this forward-thinking mindset that can propel women toward new heights in architecture and beyond, start with a few core practices that are invaluable to this advance. These have
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been essential to my career, and they’re indispensable for anyone entering, re-entering, pondering—or in the thick of—their architectural experience. These are practices to carry with you, reflect on, discuss with peers, and most important, to activate.
1. Seek Mentors
The literature on this topic abounds, but the importance of seeking out the right mentors can’t be overstated. The power comes not from finding that one top architect who is willing to stay in touch but rather from creating a small network of varying mentors at different levels who can offer insights throughout the experience spectrum. While veteran insight is priceless, for example, young architects should also be encouraged to seek out peers who may be only a few steps ahead. Younger mentors may not have the portfolios or awards of the top ranks, but they can speak directly to a newer architect’s current challenges and perhaps offer more relevant, actionable short-term advice.
2. Elevate Peers
In a recent article for the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, I recommended shifting focus from women who might be missing from the architecture field to the many women who are already present and up to big things. Rather than fixate on barriers to entry, it’s essential to celebrate women already in the profession paving the way for future women architects to make their mark. Let’s talk about and promote the women architects in Mexico, like Frida Escobedo and Fernanda Canales, who are pioneering women-led firms and groundbreaking projects. Or study Arch Xenus, Ghana’s largest female-run architecture firm now reenvisioning the nation’s cities into self-sustaining, green, and aesthetically compelling environments with affordable housing. The more we lift each other up, promote each other’s work and raise awareness of all the work already being done by women pioneers in the field, the more we inspire each other to join in and persevere while encouraging established firms to diversify their teams.
3. Forge a New Path
Perhaps not the smoothest route, but from my personal experience, the most rewarding is blazing a fresh trail. To walk the path to leadership, whether it’s specializing in an area like sustainability or starting a new practice, often requires us to ignore the barriers—to walk around them and find a new route to success. Was it harder for me to get clients when I started Spacesmith than if I were a certain kind of man? Without a doubt. But my response was to keep trying and to look in different places until I finally found the right clients, and good ones. Like foraging for mushrooms, it’s an essential skill that helps build a project list, a practice and a firm that provide opportunities for women and men alike. The effort has paid off—today, Spacesmith boasts a diverse team of professionals who share a vision of inclusivity and equality. I’m proud to have created a space where women architects are comfortable and empowered. As one of
“Progress for women in architecture and the workforce in general depends on continual support for each other and on showing up.“ our aspiring architects recently said, “I’ve experienced all kinds of uncomfortable moments working in a male-dominated industry and being the only woman (and young person) in the room. Working at Spacesmith is a breath of fresh air. I really appreciate the environment we have here and I’m excited to be part of the inclusivity conversation this year!” This is what the industry needs: excited young women architects empowered by their peers and leaders to share their ideas and be trailblazers.
4. Cultivate an Entrepreneur’s Mindset
Women can’t shut men out of it. Otherwise we would only be swinging the pendulum towards an opposite extreme. The empathy that makes women unique and powerful is what we need to practice as we gain the power and control that for so long was dangled — no, held firmly — just out of our reach. The quest is one for human equality, respect, dignity, and human progress. For that, women and men need each other. To second Denise Scott-Brown in a recent CNN article, “The design of cities is produced by societies”—we need to work together in order to truly transform our society into an egalitarian one.
6. Keep at It!
Progress for women in architecture and the workforce in general depends on continual support for each other and on showing up. It’s easy to get disheartened and surrender, but truly there has never been a better time for women in history, both at home and in the workplace.
Another helpful avenue is education. Like many architects, I support and advocate for programs focused on an integrated study model introducing the business side early on. Educators see a great move towards these programs, which provide more stability and growth in the profession overall. Art, science, business—all three are essential pillars to the study and practice of architecture. They enable emerging architects to cultivate not only the vision to innovate in the field but also the skills and tools necessary to gain clients’ trust and bring those ideas to life.
A paradigm shift is occurring that is powerful and profound. The results that matter appear to be germinating— more women as partners, more running their own firms, more earning as much as their male counterparts, and more being treated with respect and dignity without exception. Innovative firms are supporting flexible work environments that engender better work-life balance. And according to a 2018 AIA survey, 40 percent of emerging professionals on the path to licensure at architecture firms are women and 41 percent of architecture staff at firms will be women by 2025.
5. Champion Humanism
It’s good news. As architects, as business owners and as women, we need to keep up the charge together. Key to this is forging our own paths and to continuing to support other women as they forge their own destinies in the field.
What is most important in today’s best architecture practices is their ability to foster an inclusive environment for all women and men to work together. Yes, women must fight to stick together, lift each other up and grow continually stronger. The #MeToo movement has brought about the necessary awareness for true change to finally take place across industries, and the architecture profession has felt it, too. Such efforts aren’t meant to polarize our profession or turn people against each other, however.
The rain never goes away—we need to keep putting layers on the mud roof. Let’s keep doing the work, and as long as women architects continue leaning in—and looking forward—there will be generations after us who reap the benefits. Q1 | MAY 2019 | PAGE 7
As the Director of Campus Planning at the University at Buffalo, Kelly Hayes McAlonie, FAIA, is responsible for the implementation of the UB Comprehensive Plan and realizing the strategic goals of the institution. She has dedicated her twenty-five year career to educational architecture. Since joining UB in 2010, Kelly has lead the planning efforts of the institution’s strategic and capital projects such as the Jacobs School of Medicine and Applied Sciences building, the South Campus Revitalization Plan, and the UB Academic Utilization Study. Kelly is currently writing a biography of Louise Bethune, FAIA, America’s first professional woman architect, and has written widely on her for over twelve years. She has been a leader to the American Institute of Architects for twenty years. She is serving a three-year term as a New York State representative on the AIA National Strategic Council. She was the 2012 President of AIA New York State and 2008 president of AIA Buffalo/WNY. Admitted to the AIA College of Fellows in 2016, she is a Regional Representative to the college from New York State.
Kelly Hayes McAlonie, FAIA New York Region Representative to the AIA Strategic Council
Role Models & Having It All
rowing up, Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott, was one of Kelly’s favorite novels. At age 12, a quote that struck a chord and resonates with her to this day was from Josephine (Jo) March, the principal character and a strong young woman who struggled to subdue her fiery temper and stubborn personality.
Kelly Hayes McAlonie, FAIA, LEED AP
“I want to do something splendid before I go into my castle, something heroic or wonderful that won’t be forgotten after I’m dead. I don’t know what, but I’m on the watch for it, and mean to astonish you all someday.” (13.52) Kelly was raised to believe she could have it all, that she could be whomever she wanted to be and her intentions were to “astonish you all someday.” Along with “Jo,” additional heroines included Wonder Woman, The Bionic Woman, and Mary Tyler Moore. The Mary Tyler More Show, a 1970s television sitcom, starred Mary Tyler Moore as Mary Richards, an unmarried, independent woman focused on her career as associate producer at a news program. A rarity in the 1970s, a central female character who was not married or dependent on a man was considered groundbreaking television in the era of second-wave feminism. The
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lyrics to the show’s theme song stated, “You’re gonna make it after all.” These innovative heroines, portrayed on television and beneficiaries of the women’s movement of the 1960’s, were for little girls to see so they would believe that they could do anything. Kelly adopted this phrase as her personal mantra, forging a path as a successful architect, a dedicated ambassador of the profession, and a visionary component leader, elevating the appreciation of architecture by developing education, innovation and advocating for design excellence in public architecture. After receiving her Master of Architecture from Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Kelly began her architectural career designing children’s playgrounds and other learning environments. In 1998, Kelly moved to Buffalo, NY, working her way up to Associate Vice President at Cannon Design where she served in their Education Practice. In 2010, she landed her dream job as the Associate Director of Capital Planning at the University at Buffalo (UB). Kelly has dedicated her twenty-five year career to educational architecture. Since joining UB in 2010, Kelly has lead the planning efforts of the institution’s
strategic and capital projects such as the Jacobs School of Medicine and Applied Sciences building, the South Campus Revitalization Plan, and the UB Academic Utilization Study. In addition to her current position as Director of Campus Planning at UB, Kelly has been actively involved with The American Institute of Architects for over 20 years, where she’s received numerous awards and held many leadership positions including the President of AIA Buffalo/WNY in 2008 and the President of AIA New York State in 2012. Admitted to the AIA College of Fellows in 2016, she is currently serving a three-year term as a New York State Region Representative to the National Strategic Council. While it is inherently obvious based on Kelly’s choice of heroes and adopted mantra, the movement and ideology of Feminism plays an important role in her evolution, and she’s found it particularly shocking to hear that a recent survey from Refinery29 and CBS News stated that 54% of millennial women did not identify as feminists (https://www.refinery29. com/en-us/midterm-election-women-dont-identify-as-feminists). Kelly has always identified as a feminist however, the older she gets, the more she sees the structural inequities of the movement.
Adriana continued conducting research on Louise for over 20 years. Upon her retirement, Adriana gifted her extensive research on Louise to Kelly, setting her on a passionate path to raise awareness about Louise’s impact on women in the profession. Since then, Kelly has co-curated “Buffalo’s Bethune”, the first exhibit in 25 years on Louise Bethune, FAIA, at the Buffalo History Museum. She has written widely on Bethune for over 12 years, is currently writing a biography on Louise Bethune, and is part of a team leading the Monumental Women of WNY project, an initiative that will recognize trailblazing women of WNY through the placement of a series of public monuments and plaques that will highlight the “hidden history” of women in public life, and help to raise awareness of the many contributions women have made to this region. Three monuments are planned for the inaugural round of the project: Mary Talbert, Geraldine “Sid-tah” Green and Louise Bethune, FAIA, whose statue will be located across from The Hotel Lafayette, a historical and architectural landmark for the City of Buffalo designed principally by Louise Blanchard Bethune. Kelly believes women in architecture today, can see a lot of themselves in Louise.
Reflecting on the history of women in architecture and the influence of feminism, Kelly was first introduced to Louise Blanchard Bethune, the first woman architect, at Louise’s gravesite in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, NY while participating in a dedication ceremony to add a marker on her grave donated by the American Institute of Architects New York State College of Fellows during the state convention that year.
Louise, who was drawing houses at a young age and was consistently a strong student, always wanted to be an architect. Initially planning to apply to the new school of architecture program at Cornell University, she received an offer of apprenticeship by Richard Waite, an advocate and hero in Louise’s story. Back in the 1880s, being hired as an apprentice was a more respected and challenging way to pursue the profession versus taking the educational path. Louise Blanchard (Bethune) was offered a position as a draftsperson for Richard for several years and in 1881 she opened her own office with her husband joining her soon after.
In addition to “meeting” Louise that day, Kelly was also introduced to Adriana Barbasch. After being asked to write an article on Louise Bethune back in 1982,
A pioneer, staunch promoter of women’s equality, and a national leader in the profession, Louise decided to apply for membership in the Western Association
Despite those inequities, today’s statistics remain clear: 43% of architectural graduates are women, 25% become licensed architects and 17% become Principal or Partners in their respective firms.
of Architects (WWA), an American professional body founded in Chicago in 1884 separately from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) by John Wellborn Root, Daniel Burnham, Dankmar Adler, and Louis Sullivan. Membership applications were reviewed by an executive board and a vote would take place. Asked if members were open to a woman joining the WWA, Louise was elected unanimously, resulting in Louis Sullivan, as secretary, leading the movement to change the terms for membership to be gender neutral. As a more liberal and larger organization, the WWA was the first architectural organization to petition for licensure of architects. Since many architects were members of both the WWA and the AIA, they decided to merge in 1889, making all members of the WWA Fellows of the AIA. Louise was the first female Fellow of the AIA and the sole woman member until 1902. Heavily influenced by the indelible impression her heroines left on her when she was growing up, Kelly and colleague Despina Stratigakos, an award-winning author and an internationally recognized historian and professor in the architecture department at the University at Buffalo, collaborated with Mattel in 2011 on the design and launch of Architect Barbie as a part of the “I Can Be series.” Labeled as an atypical profession for women, Architect Barbie donned a hard hat and drawing tube, empowering girls to role-play. In addition to providing children with an opportunity to use their imaginations during play time; Architect Barbie would also serve as a social experiment to generate long term feminine interest in a field where women are still in the minority with licensure and leadership roles. When asked where we are now with women in architecture, Kelly feels that we are in a place of advancement because of general recognition and awareness, and is confident that something heroic and wonderful is happening that won’t be forgotten.
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Originally from Colombia, Graciela Carrillo, AIA, immigrated to the United States in 2003. While in Colombia, Graciela worked as an Architect at Bogota’s Institute of Urban Development (IDU), a Government owned institution in charge of city planning and infrastructure construction. Currently, she works for Cashin Associates, PC, an Engineering firm based on Long Island, NY. At Cashin, she has worked on and lead all scales of urban design, planning and architectural projects, including leading municipalities to integrate sustainability features within their projects and LEED project administration and commissioning services. Graciela has committed almost a decade of volunteer leadership service to the AIA. Involved at the local, state and national level, she currently serves as the President-Elect and Women in Architecture Co-Chair for the AIA Long Island Chapter. On a National and State level, Graciela was the 2017-2018 New York Regional Director for the Young Architects Forum. Graciela obtained her B. Arch in Bogota, Colombia, a Masters in Environmental Planning from Pratt Institute, is a LEED Accredited Professional and a New York State Code Enforcement Official. Through her volunteering work with the AIA, Graciela provides a voice for immigrant professionals in the United States, encouraging and supporting them in their path towards licensure and professional development.
Graciela Carrillo, AIA, LEED AP BD+C
An Immigrant Architect and Her Journey your dreams, be passionate about what you like, persevere, and never give up.
My passion for architecture started at a young age. I was raised in a family of civil engineers, including my father and two brothers. My childhood memories are full of afternoons at their studio filled with drafting tables, rulers and books. Having exposure to design and construction at a young age triggered my curiosity of the built environment.
Graciela Carrillo, AIA, LEED AP BD+C
orking in the predominately male business of architecture and engineering, and being an immigrant from South America, people ask me if I have endured a hard path to establish myself as a professional in a foreign country. I have met other immigrants who are struggling and want to know how I was able to develop leadership skills and overcome cultural biases. The answer is very simple: follow PAGE 10 | Q1 | MAY 2019
Everyone thought I was destined to follow in my family’s engineering footsteps, but I saw myself as a rebellious and independent young woman, choosing the architecture path to explore my creative side. Though I was educated as an architect, I was grounded in engineering. Back in Colombia, I worked for an engineering firm that developed 24 four-story apartment buildings. Later, I worked for the City Mayor’s office in charge of developing and maintaining the City’s infrastructure, the “Urban Development Institute”(IDU). At IDU, I worked as the project manager in charge of public space projects such as plazas, parks, bus stations, pedestrian ways, and highways. Through my work at IDU, my passion for
community service began, transforming communities and reinventing public space to improve safety conditions and elevating the quality of life for society. It was in 2003, due to personal safety concerns, I decided to move to the United States where I started working at Cashin Associates PC, an engineering firm.
Follow your dreams. Always Persevere.
I knew that at some point in my life I wanted to live in New York. I was fortunate that when that time came, I was able to find a company that was willing to hire me so I could process my work visa, offering to take care of the immigration process and fees in exchange for a job in the US. Ultimately, my goal was to obtain my permanent residency (greencard) through my work status. While navigating the immigration process to acquire permanent status and then citizenship, I was also embarking on the road to professional licensure. The first five years in the US were hard from a cultural, language and professional perspective. I had to improve my English, get trained on how the profession works here, and adjust to a new life and culture. My first hardship was to
Directors where I’ve held the positions of Chapter Secretary, Treasurer, and currently, the President-Elect. Two contributions I am extremely proud of are co-founding both the Emerging Professionals (EP) Committee in 2015, and the Women in Architecture (WIA) Committee in 2018.
overcome gender bias. Several of my assignments were to oversee construction, where dealing with Contractors was not an easy task. I overcame those situations by improving my speaking skills, knowledge and preparedness. Going through the licensing process was not easy either. I realized that I had to re-learn my entire career to pass the ARE exam. Not only was the content hard to assimilate, but I struggled with the language during the exams. Out of seven parts to the exam, I failed three, one of them twice. In the end, it took me five years to pass all parts and become a licensed professional. In addition to overcoming the cultural shift and licensing process, I also needed to learn how to better communicate with others. I’m actually extremely shy and introverted, and AIA has played an important role in my growth. Since I was working with engineers, I joined the AIA to network with architects. What I didn’t know, is that by joining the AIA, a whole new community was there to support my growth, including finding my voice to make an impact on the lives of others. Participating in numerous activities with the AIA gave me the space to learn to communicate with others, to overcome my shyness and to become a leader.
My Path through the AIA.
I joined the AIA as soon as I arrived on Long Island and after a few years of being a member, I was appointed as the Chapter’s Associate Director. Since I was going through my licensing process, I coordinated the Chapter’s ARE review classes. Once I obtained my professional license, I was appointed to the Board of
From 2017-2018, I was the NYS Young Architect Regional Director (YARD) for the AIA Young Architect Forum. Being the NYS YARD was a rewarding experience providing opportunities to meet other Young Architects throughout the country and learn from them. As the NYS YARD, I helped create the “Firm Friendly Award,” a national awards program developed to recognize firms that foster Emerging Professionals. The program can also be used as catalysts for conversations between EPs and firm leadership.
Women in Architecture
Women in architecture occupy fewer leadership positions, earn lower salaries and receive less awards than men. This year, 115 AIA members were elevated to Fellowship status—only 15% were women. These facts, along with many others and my own personal experiences, are the reason why the creation of the WIA Committee has been one of my most rewarding endeavors. Through the AIA LI WIA Committee, our goal is to encourage the success and leadership of women in the architectural industry. I truly believe fostering fellowship, cooperation, networking and unity between AIA members will empower women at all levels in their career. In 2017, the #Metoo movement accomplished raising awareness of sexual harassment in the workplace. In my opinion, #Metoo has been a tool for cultural change in the work environment. Several activist groups were created after
the #Metoo movement to provide support to those suffering from this type of harassment. Additionally, in accordance with the National Conference of State Legislatures, 32 States have introduced over 125 pieces of legislation on sexual harassment. One example is the new NYS requirement of all firms to implement a sexual harassment policy and training program. The #Metoo movement has made men think again about their own behavior around women. And women have learned to speak up and to stop sexist comments at work. Parallel to the #Metoo movement, equity and diversity in the workplace is an issue that the AIA has been working on to raise awareness throughout the industry. Just recently, while attending the introduction of the new “Guides for Equitable Practice,” we were left with interesting questions to be asked about equity in your organization: Where are the men and women in your organization? Where are they underrepresented? Do you proactively manage pay equity? Do you provide sponsors along with role models, some of which counter stereotypes? What is the impact of policies, practices, programs and formal commitments on making your culture more inclusive and numbers more balanced along the pipeline? I challenge each of you to reflect on these questions and the importance of an equitable practice. Women’s leadership is characterized by being innovative, building trust and empowering followers. All these characteristics are well suited to our profession’s challenges. My advice to the future women architects is to never stop dreaming, be passionate, be curious, find a good mentor and ask as questions. Set goals for yourself. You can always achieve what you want. Finally, I would like to leave this quote from Zaha Hadid: “Women are always told, ‘You’re not going to make it, its too difficult, you can’t do that, don’t enter this competition, you’ll never win it,’ they need confidence in themselves and people around them to help them to get on.” Go make it, achieve it, win it! Q1 | MAY 2019 | PAGE 11
A graduate of Pratt Institute’s architecture program, including the Rome Honors Program where she studied Italian architecture and history abroad, Nell Taranto, AIA has over 15 years of professional experience in architecture and construction management specializing in corporate and residential interiors in Manhattan and across the United States. Nell is currently an Associate Principal with Carlton Architecture PC where she works on projects across all styles and types including commercial, residential, institutional and retail. Nell also served as a mentor and assistant teacher at FreeArtsNYC, where she taught weekly art classes to underserved children in the Bronx from 2012-2016. The curriculum focused on empowerment and promoting communication tools.
Nell Howard Price Taranto, AIA
Use Experience to Master Your Skills
Nell Howard Price Taranto, AIA
was raised in a barn. That’s not a euphemism for growing up on a farm or loving to ride horses. My childhood home in Vermont was a converted outbuilding, painted red with barn doors on the front. The only architect I knew as a young kid was my father’s uncle, E. James Shields, Jr. “Uncle Jim” designed churches, schools, and office buildings, in addition to residences. I was impressed by his self-assurance and dedication to his family, whom he gathered around him and designed ocean-view houses for each of them within sight of his own home PAGE 12 | Q1 | MAY 2019
in Marshfield, Massachusetts. There was also a large architectural drawing, done by his father, Edward J. Shields, during his time at MIT, which hung on the wall in our kitchen. It was a parody of sorts though. A small plaque on the elevation dedicated the building “in memory of a ham sandwich.”
tural College. I wanted to try living in a city, and Boston seemed to be a good choice since I had relatives nearby. My father and I went to tour the campuses at MIT and Wentworth, but something (perhaps the time of year) convinced me that I didn’t belong in these dreary, tightly buttoned stone buildings.
I have always felt that architecture was the natural melding of both my parents’ livelihoods. My father works in construction and carpentry, and my mother is an artist. I have an aptitude for math and geometry, and I became passionate about drafting in my first class at age 13. I started out drafting machine parts by hand on a TOM board - gears and machine screw threads. I later enrolled in the drafting program in the adjacent career center, completing two years of a continuing education class for adults.
Ultimately, I decided to go to Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, sight unseen. I had been to New York one time previously, travelling with my mother and babysitting the children of a family of Christmas tree sellers. My father and I drove to Brooklyn on a beautiful August day. I’ll never forget the detour from the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway that took us through some unknown part of Queens and past a flaming car fire that put a ghostly pallor on my father’s face.
My parents instilled in me the belief that if I wanted something badly enough, and worked hard, I could do anything. I never considered architecture an atypical or unsuitable career choice for a woman, because from my perspective, it wasn’t. With my parents’ support, I applied to schools for architecture (my portfolio consisted of one cabin design, many sections of threaded machine parts, and a drawing of a pear house). I focused initially on schools in the Boston area: Wentworth, MIT, and Boston Architec-
I received a well-rounded education at Pratt, partly because of my insistence in taking classes with professors who taught the old way of doing things; how to build, not simply how to put words to our creations; Michael Trencher, Donald Cromley, Robert Pelosi and Michael Tower. During my second year at Pratt, I inquired for a position that turned into an apprenticeship with a Swiss architect in the Bronx named Rene Robert Mueller. He taught me everything from hand lettering to the graphics of hand rendering, and
in our office for designing staircases, but I have never been pigeon-holed or confined to one discipline, and I usually manage my projects from proposal through punch list. My goal is to one day work on a theme hotel. I love the idea of bringing a theme into architectural details and thinking outside the norm.
Carlton Architecture: Westchester Estate Reflective Space Corner Detail. Copyright Michael Carlton.
Carlton Architecture_Westchester Estate Freestanding Structure. Copyright Robert Lowell.
I grew so much as a designer under his tutelage. Shortly after I graduated with my bachelor’s degree, the recession hit, and with most of the firm’s projects overseas, local work dried up so I was laid off. I freelanced for a while as everything from a nanny to a model builder. It was a rough time, but my roommates helped me through it, and I survived.
and intimidating, but the Principal I interviewed with, Thomas Mahoney, was positive and friendly. The follow-up interview with Michael Carlton upon his return from India seemed more of a formality. I started two weeks later.
“I never considered architecture an atypical or unsuitable career choice for a woman, because from my perspective, it wasn’t. “ Just to get a steady paycheck, I took a job as an assistant project manager at a construction firm in Staten Island. I often worked in the field and saw many projects come together first-hand. Two years went by, and I realized I was getting further from my dream of being an architect. One gentleman there had studied architecture and passed all the exams but one, and I swore to myself I would never let that be me. I was finally invited for an interview at Carlton Architecture, PC. It was my first formal interview at a firm. I was very nervous, and I probably spent too much money compiling my portfolio into a book of sorts. The address on Madison Avenue and the office with high open white painted ceilings were impressive
After working for a time, I started to think about getting my license. I had logged enough IDP hours to begin my exams, and one of the principals at my company had encouraged me, saying that we could always use more women architects in the world. Too many women never get their licenses. There was another designer who had joined the firm only a few months before I did who was also looking to get licensed, so we took on the challenge together. The exam was in seven parts, four hours each. It took us almost four months to study for the first section (Structures) and nearly two years to complete the entire exam. My goal was to finish the exams before my wedding. I was licensed in April and married in October of 2015. Once licensed, we were soon promoted to associates, managing and training new hires in the company, often right out of school. At Carlton, I have had the opportunity to work on a wide range of projects, and the variety keeps things challenging and interesting. Past projects include corporate interiors, universities, hospitals, apartment renovations, apartment building renovations, retail showrooms and stores, private residences, commercial lobbies and elevator cabs. I seem to have become a go-to person
I joined the AIA to broaden my interpretation of architecture. Attending the convention every year gives me the opportunity to meet other women architects and hear their stories. I really enjoy the Women in Design Brunch, it has become an annual event for me. The male colleagues and supervisors I have worked with have largely been supportive, but I learned talking to these women that this is not typical even today in the traditionally male-dominated architecture field. The #MeToo movement has been a catalyst for change in this regard and hopefully will continue to be so.
To those starting out, I offer this advice. Treat every assignment, every job as a way to master your skills. Every experience I have had, from waitressing to New York City Housing Authority lead abatements, taught me valuable lessons I use today. Architecture is such an amorphous and broad pursuit, that any knowledge you attain could be applicable to a future project. Spend some time in the trenches. Schooling is obviously important and will help you get your foot in the door, but for me, the time I spent in construction was invaluable. I encourage you to get in the field, and learn first-hand how buildings go together.
Q1 | MAY 2019 | PAGE 13
New to the United States, Ofé Clarke, AIA, started her architecture journey at Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia. Soon after she began, she moved to New York City where she obtained her BArch at the New York Institute of Technology, graduating Magna Cum Laude. During her studies, she interned at a small firm in New York and after graduation she was offered a job at KSQ Architects, a growing firm in Westchester, NY and is still a part of their team. Ofé has spent her time at KSQ specializing, honing her craft, finding her niche and constantly exploring ways to share with and inspire younger generations to pursue a career in the fields of architecture and engineering.
Ofé J. Clarke, AIA
The Challenges are Worth the Reward
Ofé J. Clarke, AIA
y initial interest in architecture is atypical but rather simple. My parents were always looking to design and build a house and there were many architectural magazines laying around our home, so I would spend my spare time flipping through those magazines and coming up with suitable and novel concepts in seeking to satisfy the vision that was being projected by my parents. This is where I first became acquainted with architecture as a profession and it immediately made it to my top three future career options. I knew it would be an extremely challenging profession, especially because I did not have any friends or family in the industry to offer advice, but I knew that wherever there are challenges the reward is commensurate to the ardor. The history of architecture, outside of the major constructions in the ancient world, is Eurocentric and masculine. As a budding architect, I was not privy to any information on Western architecture that included feminine figures, minority pioneers, or youthful figures for me to view in a mentorship role, but the lack of mentor commonality did not deter me from pursuing my goal of being an architect of renown. In pursuit of my goal to become an architect of historical substance, there
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are two areas of the built environment I have had a passion to impact – education and the habitable environment. My desire to impact the classroom is the product of the fact that a vast majority of human life is spent in places of education, especially our formative years, and the classroom can and should ultimately shape our future as the place in which we study, collaborate and learn. To date, this is where my profession has taken me and it has been truly rewarding. I have seen that through space planning and programming, learning can be further fostered. I still intend to make an impact in the area where people go to seek comfort, peace, and tranquility, but providing the comforts of home through architectural innovation is yet part of my future plans. Throughout my early journey as a female architect, my most strenuous challenge has been in the field doing construction administration. Though firms and clients are now more receptive to a woman being in charge, the construction industry is still heavily male dominated and women constantly have to assert themselves to be taken seriously. This is the reality of pursuing my dream in a field that is historically bent towards male dominance. It is a constant struggle to be
“I knew it would be an extremely challenging profession, especially because I did not have any friends or family in the industry to offer advice, but I knew that wherever there are challenges the reward is commensurate to the ardor.“
taken seriously and to be recognized as an architect, because what is almost always immediately seen is that I am a petite woman of minority descent and this first impression has to be overwritten by asserting my professionalism through showing that I know my craft. In recent years, I have seen many firms employ more women, promote more women, and more women holding executive and principal positions. In my opinion, this is the right decision as women and men think differently. Having that level of diversified thinking within your firm, design team, and project will only lead to great things. I am not advocating for an artificial reorganization of the construction industry in gender relations, but what I am advocating for is that the most qualified individuals should be hired and nurtured without gender being a hindrance or consideration in the process. This form of equity will lead to great things in society because it helps to disintegrate prejudices of all sorts. Over the next five years, I think we will see more minorities and more women enter the profession and be successful as there is a higher percentage of women and minorities pursuing architecture. I see progress being made and with time I believe it will only get better.
Two major forces that allow me to cope in an environment where I have to expend more energy than my male counterparts are my religious beliefs and involvement in church and local community outreach. These are bedrocks of my development and they have shaped who I am today. It helps to bring balance and provide context to everyday life and all situations. What many people do not know about me is that in my spare time I am an event planner. I love coming up with a design or theme, making strategic plans, then executing these plans to provide a final product that my clients, whether they are friends or family, are excited about. In retrospect, this is similar to what we do in architecture on a daily basis. To my future female architects:
• Be confident; • listen; • inspire; • know your opinion has equal value to any other opinion posited;
• remain focused; • be persistent; • do not be intimidated; • keep your cheerleading squad very near and each step of the way;
• take time everyday to admire your accomplishments;
• recollect your thoughts on what can be adjusted;
• and keep growing. Never forget architecture is about vision and progression. Never fall prey to stereotypes, but pursue what is uniquely you, not because you are a woman, but because you are an architect and gender has no place in defining how great you are or can become.
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Sue McClymonds Architect, a certified Woman-Owned Business Enterprise (WBE) and SBA certified Small Woman-Owned Business, is an independent specification consultant providing specifications and construction contracts consulting services to architects and organizations since 2001. She has over 25 years of experience in the preparation of specifications for a variety of project types and extensive experience in specifying restoration/preservation work and sustainable projects. Prior to starting her consulting business she held the position of Corporate Director of Specifications and Contracts and chief specification writer for the firm Einhorn Yaffee Prescott (EYP) Architecture & Engineering headquartered in Albany, NY. Sue’s teaching experience includes seminars at the numerous AIA National Conventions, AIANYS Conventions, AIANYS/PA/NJ Convention, AIA national web seminars and podcasts, visiting lecturer at RPI School of Architecture, and national speaking engagements. She has published AIA National continuing education courses, articles in AIArchitect, an NCARB mini-monograph, and other association publications. She is a CSI Certified Construction Specifier (CCS). Sue served as an officer for her local and state AIA components for 12 years, including President of the Eastern New York Chapter and President of AIA New York State. She served for 14 years as a member of the AIA National Documents Committee, serving as Chair in 2009 and 2010. She served as her local CSI Chapter’s Certification Chair for 17 years. She recently concluded a 10 year appointment to the New York State Board for Architecture, having served as Chair in 2009 and 2010. Sue’s NCARB service includes serving on various committees from 2006 to the present, NCARB Region 2 Secretary and Region 2 Chair and three years as Regional Director on the NCARB Board of Directors. She holds a BA from Wheaton College in Norton, MA and a BArch from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY.
Sue McClymonds, AIA, CSI, CCS, SCIP, NCARB
Find Your Niche and Go for It!
Sue McClymonds, AIA, CSI, CCS, SCIP, NCARB
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did not always want to be an architect; I came to the decision in a roundabout way. When I entered college, I wanted to become an environmental scientist. By the time my sophomore year was half over I ran out of classes to take, as this was a newly developed concentration at the time and I attended a small liberal arts college with traditional majors. I took a class in Art History, loved it, and changed my major. After graduating with a BA in Art History, I faced the age-old question of every college graduate “what do I do now and how do I support myself?” I didn’t want to work in a gallery or museum in NYC which was within commuting distance. I dispassionately analyzed my options, strengths and weaknesses. I was good in art, math and science, and I knew I didn’t want to work at a desk all day. I thought, I should become an architect, it would be a perfect fit. It was purely
a rational decision, as I had never even been in an architect’s office before, nor did I know an architect. So I applied to architecture schools that I could drive to (I was married at the time and unable to relocate), decided to go to Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, and thus started my journey. Literally; because it was a minimum 1-3/4 hour drive from my house one way, up the Garden State Parkway, through Staten Island, over the Verrazano bridge and up the BQE, and those of you who live in that area know what that commute can be like! Architecture school was much more demanding than my prior college experience, but I knew this was the career for me right away. I went every winter semester and both summer semesters so I could get done as quickly as possible. It was a very grueling endeavor, dealing with the commute, the academic demands of architecture school, working
“I was deeply encouraged during my years of working at a large firm and being in the position to interview, hire and mentor emerging professionals to see the number of females and people of diversity entering the profession and succeeding.“ part time and dealing with my personal situations of life, but I graduated in three years with my BArch degree. I got a job right away in my home town of Red Bank, NJ at the office of Kellenyi Associates. This one event, my first job fresh out of architecture school, proved to be the event that shaped my future path in architecture. My boss, Bernie Kellenyi was a kind and thoughtful man and dedicated to the profession. He was the person who most influenced my career in architecture. Bernie told the interns in his office that we had to give back to our profession, and to contribute to the future of architecture. He showed us by his actions that professional service was important. He was a long-time member and President of the New Jersey State Board of Architects, and for many years was involved in NCARB and AIA leadership positions. He also gave me the opportunity to “try” spec writing, as he quickly noticed I did not have the patience to erase and redraw certain elements of a building several times over at the direction of the designer (yes it was paper and pencil back then!), and he knew, as he said, I could at least spell, write and research since I had a BA degree. I had no idea what a spec even was so he gave me an example. Anodized aluminum, what’s that? Concrete admixtures, what are they for? But I researched and learned. And I cut and pasted (literally since we used typewriters and I would cut and taped the paper pieces together from other specs) and typed, and photocopied and
created specs. I found I really enjoyed learning all the technical aspects and thereupon, found my niche in the profession of architecture. So, I joined my local chapter of the AIA and started getting involved. I moved to NYS, where I really started my volunteer career serving AIA. I spent 12 years in leadership positions in AIANYS including President of AIA Eastern NY in 1996 and President of AIANYS in 2002. I was invited to become a member of the AIA Documents Committee which I joined in 2004 and on which I served 14 years, including a term as Chair of the Committee for 2009 and 2010. I was selected to be on the NYS Board for Architecture in 2005 and served a 10 year term, including Chair of the Board in 2009 and 2010. I served NCARB on committees and leadership positions for 11 years, including Chair of NCARB Region 2 from 2011 – 2014 and Director on the NCARB Board of Directors from 2014 – 2017. And I’m still on an NCARB committee and serving as an extended member of the NYS Board for Architecture. And so, I spent my career as an architect writing specifications from back then as an intern to today where I have my own 16-year strong consulting firm writing specs on projects. I love the work, and love working with the teams of diverse individuals from so many firms. I’ve written specs over the years on a variety of projects types from tiny volunteer fire departments in a rural area to a huge laboratory building in an urban setting and have enjoyed it all. Was it easy – no. When I started architecture school it was a man’s world. As a female, I was an anomaly in architecture school – I believe there was just a handful of women enrolled during my time in school. Even my uncle who was a contractor refused to hire me for a summer position saying I would be “a distraction to the guys.” I did endure sexist jokes and comments, did see discrimination in employment, did have a difficult path moving up the “corporate ladder” to upper leadership positions
at times. But I was stubborn, and determined, and believed in myself and so I succeeded. I took off one year during my volunteer time at AIA to have my twin children, then got right back into it. I have a 90 acre farm that I farm to this day. I made career choices along the way that allowed me to be with my kids as they grew up, and don’t regret one second of it. Is it easier now for female and minority architects and aspiring architects to be included in the profession and become successful, yes it sure is. I was deeply encouraged during my years of working at a large firm and being in the position to interview, hire and mentor emerging professionals to see the number of females and people of diversity entering the profession and succeeding. Today, I see a greater awareness of the importance of a diverse workforce and giving all individuals the opportunity to succeed based on their merits. I’m sure it has a way to go though. My words of advice to any emerging professional is, and has been, find your niche in the profession, something you love doing, and go for it. And believe in yourself, be stubborn and determined, and keep striving in the face of setbacks because there will be some. Regard your personal life, and your family life, with as much importance as you value your job. And most importantly, give back to your profession and contribute to the future of architecture. My mentor, Bernie Kellenyi died at the age of 93 having given a lifetime of service to his profession. I hope I can do the same.
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Currently a Senior Associate at S9ARCHITECTURE in New York, Pascale Sablan, AIA, NOMA, LEED AP, has over 12 years of experience working on a variety of mixed-use, commercial, cultural & residential projects in the U.S., Saudi Arabia, India, Azerbaijan, & UAE. Pascale is the 315th living African-American female registered architect in the United States. She is the Founder & Executive Director of Beyond the Built Environment, positioned to uniquely address the inequitable disparities in architecture by providing a holistic platform aimed to support numerous stages of the architecture pipeline. She has been awarded with the 2018 Pratt Alumni Achievement Award, the NOMA Prize for Excellence in Design and Building Design + Construction 40 Under 40; featured on the Cover of the September 2017 issue. Pascale is the 2018 AIA Young Architects Award Recipient and was featured in the Council of Tall Building & Urban Habitat Research Paper, in the same company as Zaha Hadid. Pascale holds a Bachelor of Architecture from Pratt Institute and a Master of Science in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University. She has given lectures all over the country at various Colleges and Universities and cultural institutions such as the United Nations and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American Heritage and Culture.
By Pascale Sablan, AIA, NOMA, LEED AP
Journey to be the 315th Living African American Woman Architect
am Pascale Sablan, a social advocate, a licensed Architect, a working professional, a student, a creative child, whose journey is quite unique and began with an audacious imagination. There were many challenges in my path that required a transformation of roles that informed the next chapter of my professional journey. In addition to all the identities listed above, I am also the Founder & Executive Director of Beyond the Built Environment, LLC.
Pascale Sablan, AIA, NOMA, LEED AP
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Beyond the Built Environment organization is positioned to uniquely address the inequitable disparities in architecture by providing a holistic platform aimed to support numerous stages of the architecture pipeline. Beyond the Built Environment elevates the identities and contributions of minority architects and designers through exhibitions, curated lectures, and documentaries that testify to the provided value of their built work and its spatial impact.
â&#x20AC;&#x153;There were many challenges in my path that required a transformation of roles that informed the next chapter of my professional journey.â&#x20AC;&#x153; But before I was inspired to start my own organization, I had to get involved and volunteer. As both the Historian and the Northeast Regional Vice President of the National Organization of Minority Architects; I was charged with the responsibility to gather, preserve and proclaim our story and legacy. To be an advocate for civic involvement. The Triumph of this position is that it has empowered me to implement programming and to collaborate with passionate individuals to influence our world to be more inclusive.
I was recently appointed to the American Institute of Architects New York Board of Directors. Alongside a diverse group of practitioners and allied professionals, we will bring our experiences and future aspirations to the functioning of the AIA New York Chapter.
profession. With this accomplishment, I now possess the authority to be responsible and held accountable to the environment.
As an AIA National Strategic Planning Committee Member, I am collaborating with the Strategic Council to help survey the profession to identify opportunities and threats, and engaging in strategic planning to inform the goals, objectives, and strategies of the AIA which will result in the AIA 2020-2024 Strategic Plan. The victory of this role provides the opportunity to impact the profession and the thousands of AIA Members.
As an intern, I was blessed to work at AARRIS Architects under the leadership of my mentors for four years. The triumph of that experience included working on the African Burial Ground National Monument, the first structure in the United States to acknowledge and commemorate the remains of both enslaved and free Africans. I was part of the process that protected our ancestor’s memories and contributions.
But, before I became an advocate in the profession, I had to be a leader in my office. With over twelve years of experience, I have been on the design team for a variety of mixed-use, commercial, cultural & residential projects in the U.S., Saudi Arabia, India, Azerbaijan, Japan, & UAE. I realized that being a great architect also lies in empowering those without a voice. To be a persistent advocate of the built environment and the communities and families who inhabit them would be the highest honor of my career. As a Senior Associate at S9ARCHITECTURE, I work on projects that focus on enhancing the built environment for diverse communities. We embed the community’s identities in an architectural expression and create spaces that support cultural experiences and take the history of the milestones of the community. Before I could hold a leadership position, I had to first become a licensed architect. The exam process was a lengthy and grueling experience, but the victory of the undertaking is that I am the 315th living female African American Registered Architect in the United States. As of April 2019, there are only 454 women who hold this distinction and we make up .02% of the design and construction
However, to attain my license, I had to first be a working professional to gain the necessary experience.
But before I could step into the profession I had to first be a student of the craft. While attending one of my first classes in a room filled with 80 or so students, a classmate and I were asked to stand. The professor announced that we would never become Architects because of our gender and our race. The victory of that moment was tuning out those words and the numerous nods of agreement to hearing my peer advise me not to let this declaration define me nor my path. Before I was a student who needed to prove herself, I was an imaginative child.
having my families support was that it emboldened me to aspire and declare that I would imprint the world. The textbooks only listed a singular gender and ethnicity as great architects. This significant omission in my education gave me a purpose to seek out and elevate architects that not only bare resemblance but hold our communities and values as design priorities. Qualities that are evident in the distinguished diverse designers whose work I exhibit. The SAY IT LOUD Exhibitions were held at the AIA New York Center for Architecture, the A’18 Convention and the NOMA 2018 Unbounded conference which were all paired with relevant programming speaking to the mission. The SAY IT LOUD United Nations Visitors Centre exhibition created a tremendous opportunity for exposure and echoing the call to action to the leaders of our world. I deeply value the collaborative processes of creating environments that reflect and sustain diversity and the dignity of human life. I believe representation is quintessential to achieving diversity. My belief is that strong and healthy communities, rich in diversity make strong nations. As architects, we have the power to represent more than ourselves and representation is quintessential to achieving equitable diversity.
A creative kid and a self-proclaimed artist, my unconventional path was supported by my most ardent advocates, my parents. I was blessed with the opportunity to travel abroad quite frequently during my childhood. I observed that architecture can be a direct interpretation of culture, or in some cases, a family. What I understood “home” to be in the U.S., was very different in another country. The idea that you can make a tailored space sparked my creativity and imagination. “An architect!” was always my answer when someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. The victory of me
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Mary-Jean Eastman, Vice Chair and Co-Founder of Perkins Eastman, plays a key role in the overall design direction of the firm. She is involved in the firm’s healthcare, higher education, public building, and residential design practices. Integrating architecture and interior design to create significant spaces and humanizing institutional environments are central to Mary-Jean’s professional practice. Over a career that spans more than 40 years, Mary-Jean has concentrated on designing patient-focused environments for healthcare clients, working with numerous top academic medical centers and healthcare institutions worldwide. Mary-Jean’s design innovation and sensitive approach have redefined “state-of-the-art” in her specialty areas, and have been recognized with nearly every major award for design excellence, enhancing the firm’s reputation as a leader in the design of programmatically complex buildings. Mary-Jean is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and a member of the Royal Canadian Institute of Architects. She has been active in the New York Chapter of the AIA serving as a Director and member of the Nominating and Honors committees. She is a board member of the New York Building Congress, the Salvadori Center, and the ACE Mentor Program.
By Mary-Jean Eastman, FAIA, MRAIC
Exceeding All Expectations
1000-person firm with 17 studios worldwide may have been Brad Perkins’ dream, after all he is the son of Larry Perkins, the founder of Perkins + Will, but it was certainly never mine. I did, however, want to be an architect from the time I was young. It was the unfulfilled dream of my Dad, who went to college during the Great Depression. He built our house himself and I witnessed it at age five. I did know enough to pretend that I wanted to be a teacher since that’s what adults wanted to hear from a girl.
Mary-Jean Eastman, FAIA, MRAIC, Vice-Chair and Co-Founder of Perkins Eastman, established her firm with L. Bradford Perkins, FAIA, MRAIC, in New York City in 1981, a time when very few women were leaders of their own architectural firms. Photography Courtesy Perkins Eastman.
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As an undergraduate at McGill University, I enrolled in Honors Mathematics, my favorite subject. It was challenging, and after doing okay first term I had the confidence to transfer to architecture school. My parents, who assumed I would never use six-plus years of higher education, only agreed to pay for undergraduate school. For graduate school I was accepted at Harvard and the Bartlett School of Architecture at University College London. Tuition at Harvard was $6,000 versus £180 at University College Lon-
“Use your time and talent to make the world better today than it was yesterday.“ don. Given this and the pessimism of the Vietnam War-era-United States, London was the obvious choice. At UCL, I had my first female design professor. MJ (Mary Jane) Long was an American architect, who went on to become a beloved professor at Yale, her alma mater, for decades. During the summer, I got an internship with the British architect Sir Colin St John Wilson, who married MJ that year. Their team of 30 was working on the new British National Library. I assisted MJ in analyzing the planning of many major new libraries in Europe and began to understand the intriguing challenges of designing programmatically complex buildings. In 1974, I moved back to Montreal and joined a consortium of architects, engi-
Mary-Jean Eastman’s most recent project, the Memorial Sloan Kettering Koch Center for Cancer Care, a Perkins Eastman project with Ennead Architects, will open at the end of 2019. Rendering Courtesy Perkins Eastman.
groundbreaking clinicians, I understand the interior environments they need to support the patients, their families, and the medical staff who serve them. Mary-Jean Eastman, FAIA, MRAIC, Vice Chairman and Co-Founder of Perkins Eastman (seated center) is surrounded by some of Perkins Eastman’s women leaders (L to R): Susan DiMotta, IIDA, AAHID, LEED AP, Principal; Deborah Lloyd Forrest, FASID, ISHC, President and Co-Founder of ForrestPerkins; Alexa Donaphin, AIA, LEED AP, Principal, Joanne Violanti, AIA, LEED AP, Principal; Barbara Mullenex, AIA, Managing Principal; and Diana Ming Sung, AIA, Principal. Photography: Copyright Andrew Rugge. Courtesy Perkins Eastman
neers, and construction managers building the facilities for the 1976 Summer Olympics—a very early “big room” project. At 28, I was facility manager of the Shooting venue during the Games. Since that was a daytime sport, I could use my security clearance to attend events like gymnastics in the evenings. After the Olympics, I moved to New York and was hired by New York State as part of a team bidding for the 1984 Summer Olympics. I was relieved when Los Angeles was selected since I wanted to work on other project types and was fortunate to be offered a job with Davis Brody, who was part of the team. Also part of the team was Brad Perkins, who was with their joint venture planning firm. When Brad left to go to Perkins + Will, I left to join him, and in 1981 we moved on again to found our own firm. Back then, you got registered and joined the AIA as soon as you could. I became a Board Member of the AIANY when I was in my 30s. I realized quickly that most development clients did not welcome
women in leadership roles on their projects. In public agencies and medical institutions, however, there were women on the other side of the table and my gender was an asset. I led the design of a 7,500-square-foot library, the Clarendon Library in Brooklyn, the NYPD 107th Precinct Station in Queens, and then a major building, the Queens Civil Courthouse. By the early ’90s, we had enough experience with institutional projects to compete for large projects in other markets. We have always had women leaders at Perkins Eastman and some who worked on these early projects are still with us. We were fortunate to work for Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center as they rebuilt themselves into a “patient centered” institution. Twenty-six years later, we have renovated all the surgical facilities and much of the inpatient facilities at the main campus and built four large ambulatory care facilities in Manhattan. The particular needs of cancer patients are my special interest. I’m not a medical planner but after decades of working with
Brad and I, and David Hoglund, FAIA, who has helped us build Perkins Eastman into a global architecture firm over the last 35 years, recently announced a leadership transition at Perkins Eastman. Shawn Basler, AIA, Nick Leahy, AIA, and Andrew Adelhardt, Esq. will lead the firm going forward as co-CEOs. Brad, Dave, and I will remain full time in executive leadership positions, following our individual passions. Shawn, Nick, and Andrew will further develop the firm’s services and design capabilities, as well as the next generation that will follow them. My advice for future architects? From the beginning, when Brad and I started Perkins Eastman, we wanted to work on projects where we could make a positive impact. Use your time and talent to make the world better today than it was yesterday. Also, be sure to make time for yourself and your family. I took ballet classes until I was 62, when I had my first hip replaced. Now I take Pilates/ Gyrotonics. My teacher makes sure I use the right muscles and don’t tense the wrong ones. I’m glad to have the privilege of an active mind and body.
Q1 | MAY 2019 | PAGE 21
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Q1 | MAY 2019 | PAGE 23
M AY â&#x20AC;&#x2DC; 1 9 A rchitecture new yor k state is a quarterly publication developed by AIA New York State, 50 State Street, Albany, NY 12207. For questions, comments and editorial content ideas, contact Robin Styles-Lopez, Director of Communications at email@example.com or 518.449.3334.
PAGE 24 | Q1 | MAY 2019