And other amazing talents of modern day architects
In an era of HGTV and DIY projects where anyone can design an impressive space, we interviewed three architects to learn why architects matter to projects of all shapes and sizes.
University of Idaho
Miranda Anderson, the interior architecture professor at the University of Idaho became interested in architecture in the sixth grade. Before teaching, she primarily designed K-12 schools in Idaho and surrounding states. After doing some historic preservation projects she focused on interior architecture and development. As she says, “The greenest building is the one that is already built. We need to think more creatively and innovatively about the way we use space and remember that a lot of existing buildings could do with a little creative transformation.
Miranda believes that the special thing architects and designers can bring to the table is their holistic view of a project. They are trained to be creative problem solvers that can look at things from a variety of perspectives. Architects are thinking about designing elements that can absorb sound or improve lighting which both have incredibly positive impacts on people. They are planning for the well-being of the whole person.
She also believes that architects have a responsibility to society. “A client might say ‘I really want XYZ,’ and we know from experience that that has some negative impacts. It is our job to identify and inform the public and our clients as best we can on the impacts of their decisions.” From her experience, some people start projects without architects and do not ask questions soon enough. They are not aware of potential health, safety, and welfare issues with the project until they get caught by code inspectors. Architects and designers have typically already thought of that.
Boise State Universiy
Since 2014, Ann Wozniak has been the Boise State University Architect and Director of Architecture. Growing up in the military, her family moved a lot. While living in places like Nairobi, Kenya and San Francisco, California, she was exposed to different cultures and architecture. At the age of 12 those experiences made her want to help people live a little bit better and a little differently. Architecture is the way she chose to do that. “I’ve always felt like architecture sets up culture and society and provides spaces that not only meet the basic need for shelter, but also propel society toward improved health. It is my hypothesis that the more spaces we have that encourage social interaction, the healthier we are both mentally and sometimes physically.
For Ann, the thing that makes architects important is their background, knowledge, and experience. They understand proportion and scale and what works functionally in a space. That requires years of experience that you can not easily teach somebody. Part of that includes learning to be open to new ideas. “It can be hard to listen to the client and not go forward with an agenda. I have learned that sometimes the design will be way better. While I live through one lens, everybody else has their own lens with a different shade and a different color. I think those are all valuable and I have to remember that I’m not the only one experiencing the space.”
Brad Smith has been working with BVA on a variety of commercial projects. The company self-performs a majority of tenant improvements inside their buildings and Brad is the architect of record who signs off on everything. He discovered his love for architecture in high school soon after his family moved to Boise. When they were searching for a home, he saw lots of fliers full of floorplans. He then had fun creating his own and has never looked back.
Brad believes that it is the architect’s job to be a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to designing. “You have to keep the built environment, society, social welfare, building science, and economic aspects in mind when working. That is what goes into that holistic approach for architecture.” Brad also understands his responsibility to clients. “Getting to know what doctors or attorneys need, you have to have a little bit of knowledge about everything. We are master builders who create bridges linking people together and building community.”
According to Brad, architecture is one of the best professions. Between meeting new people, and combining art with science and technology, it is a great profession. The most important thing Brad has learned through his career is very similar to Ann. “If you can put someone’s needs first, above your own or above what your vision is, within the boundaries of the built environment, health, safety, and welfare, then it’s going to be better for everybody.
So why do architects matter? They see the unseen and improve our world because of it.
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