What is the best part of your job?
Helping people realize their dreams! Oftentimes people don't even know what is possible and when I show them, it's the best feeling ever. I enjoy giving people a space they cherish and want to spend time in.
What is your favorite style?
I don't really have a favorite style. I like a wide range of design expressions. None of my projects look the same because each project is a different site, with a different client, with different needs and wants. Design is the process of solving problems, it is not an act of styling.
What influences your design aesthetic?
I'd say above all else it is the landscape and the site. The most important parts of a building design are how it sits on the site, how it relates to its surroundings both physical and cultural, and how the natural light comes into the building. For the building itself, I like to think of the parts of the building as musical notes playing a song. The notes must be composed and work together to make a harmonious whole. But since these are buildings and therefore useful objects with long life spans, the function must always come before aesthetics. There is beauty in the simplicity and suitability of a warehouse or pole barn.
What sets you apart from other architects?
I am an excellent listener and am very interested in finding out what will make my clients happy. I'm not afraid of color and texture and love interior design. My design process often starts from the interior, working outward. I do my preliminary design work by sketching which keeps my ideas fluid until they are ready to be nailed down with actual dimensions. I do the preliminary structural design alongside the architectural design which allows for the building to look exactly as it is intended and not get beat up in the process of applying "reality" by engineers.
Do you watch HGTV?
No, not at all. Behind the editing, these shows are known for unhappy clients, shoddy work, and loads of lawsuits. I do like to watch Judge Judy sometimes though.
Is architecture an artistic or technical pursuit?
Both. Add political and cultural and you have a good start.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Work on my 135-year-old fixer-upper near City Park in Denver, take my kids to the park, garden, cook, read, and listen to music.
Are you an AIA member?
No. The AIA is not a credential and is geared towards big firms and big projects so isn't a good fit. I am a very active mentor in my profession however and have helped countless colleagues, both older and younger, get their licenses and improve their knowledge and ability in the field.
What other jobs have you held?
Most recently, a subject matter expert, technical writer, and tutor for a top education provider in my profession. I worked remotely as a designer and contract documents specialist for an architect in NYC doing fast turnarounds on high-end condos and offices. Before that and during a break from architecture, I had another career operating a learning center in Boulder, Colorado where we taught fundamental academic skills to students who struggled with learning due to dyslexia, ADHD, and other barriers. In college, I interned for a structural engineer in a design-build firm. My first job was as a cashier in a building materials store.
What is the most interesting project you've worked on?
There have been many. I say it was the summer I spent doing design and visualizations for a small university campus. We proposed upgrades and additions to many of the campus structures as well as a new outdoor pavilion and landscape design. My mom and brother were both alumni of the university so that made it extra special. Either that or a very high-end law office where I did all the technical detailing to take the project from beautiful concepts to built reality.
What is the worst project you've been involved with?
Well, there was an interior remodel of an old abandoned funeral home in the Bronx that had been added onto several times over many years. It was dark, outdated, and disorienting inside. When we were first involved, the place had been taken over by squatters and was in really bad shape. Either that or my first project which was a chicken shed in Wakefield, Nebraska. But chickens need buildings too.
What kind of projects do you enjoy most?
I really like to work with women owners who want to be part of the process and who want to feel confident, empowered, and inspired during design and construction. I also like any project where I am expanding my horizons by meeting new people or learning new things.
Why did you get a certificate in medical neuroscience and how does it inform your work as an architect?
I was not working as an architect at the time. I was working as a clinician in a learning center where we administered academic therapies. I wanted to learn more about the brain, our senses, and how people receive and process information so I could be a better clinician. It's helpful as an architect mostly in increasing my ability to understand people, practice patience, judge less, and perspective-take more.
How do you feel about working in a male-dominated profession?
I seek to become allies with the men I work with and ignore any stereotypes about women and their abilities that I might encounter along the way.
What do you wish people knew about architects?
Becoming a licensed architect takes many years of study and both a broad and deep understanding of many disciplines. Architects must pass a rigorous licensing exam demonstrating their knowledge and ability in the field. Architects are held to a strict code of ethics by the state they practice in.
"Becky is an excellent communicator. She is concise, friendly and very professional. She knows her industry well and has excellent presentation and negotiation skills."
- Rob T.