What inventors or architects inspire you and why?
Growing up, I was always captivated by skyscrapers, large structures, engineering, transportation, and sustainable energy resources. Very early on, I developed a fascination for ancient structures and engineering systems, especially those created and designed by the Greeks, Egyptians, Romans, Japanese and Chinese. As a child, my father would take long walks with me in the old historic neighborhoods of Kansas City and he would quiz me on the different architectural styles of characteristics of houses. My mother was the marketing director for a very large engineering & technology firm and I loved going to her office to see what large-scale projects the engineers were working on. When I was 10 I visited both New York City and Europe for the first time. I saw the wonders of Paris, Belgium, and Italy and was mesmerized by New York City’s skyscrapers, Paris’ Notre Dame & Eifel Tower, and the massive free-standing domes and castles across Europe. At 11, my Japanese aunt took me on a 3-week trip to Japan. There I was spellbound by the superstructures in Tokyo and the simpler yet delicate temples in Kyoto. I later lived in France, Belgium, Rome, Shanghai, and New Orleans and spent hours sketching structures, studying each city’s unique art, architecture, history, and culture. I was especially drawn to the work of Santiago Calatrava, who was not only an architect but a structural engineer. Calatrava took the forms he found in nature and applied them to massive civic works. In architecture school, I fell in love with the work of Zaha Hadid, Louis Kahn, Herzog & De Meuron, Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, Norman Foster, Eero Saarinen, Bjarke Ingels, and Jeanne Gang just to name a few.
How has the work you do changed the way you view the world?
For me becoming an architect was to develop a special superpower, to become an X-Man who has X-ray vision into buildings and engineering systems and be able to comprehend the internal workings of not only how a structure is built, but how its building systems are integrated into the architecture to provide massive amounts of power, clean air, plumbing, natural light, and data for a building.
I am specifically fascinated by how a structure itself reflects the unique culture and context that it is set in and how it draws people together and shapes how people interact within that space. For 9 years I designed sports stadiums, arenas, and university recreation centers. I was intrigued by how sports brought hundreds of thousands of people together for a shared, collective experience of watching individuals or teams compete. Today, when designing bio-research, pharma, technology & biomanufacturing buildings, I am greatly intrigued by how science and technology are fundamentally integrated in order to provide a place for people to gather, collaborate and create innovative new ways to solve the world’s biggest problems.
What would you say is the most important contribution of what you do?
As an architect, I am fascinated with innovating the way we design and document buildings by using advanced parametric software to optimize this process in 3D rather than 2D. This not only saves thousands of manpower hours but creates new opportunities to use this embedded information to not only draw a building but to provide a complete 3D model and subsequent visuals that show the client what a building will look like. This allows the team to make design decisions much more quickly as well as identify problems with building systems integration using clash detection, providing solutions long before a building is ever built. By using advanced 3D modeling, animation, rendering along with virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) software, I feel that high-fidelity walk-throughs, interactive animations, and 3D virtual collaborative tools in architecture will play an important role in creating collaborative and streamlined teams that optimize the design process as well as client & consultant communication, leading to more creative design solutions that will be a catalyst for the future of design and cross-discipline collaboration in architecture, engineering, and construction.
What would you say to encourage other girls/women to enter the field of architecture?
I fundamentally believe that parents, teachers, and professors should highly encourage and emphasize a STEAM-based curriculum (science, technology, engineering, creativity & math) to prepare students to excel as scientists, doctors, engineers, & architects and contribute wholeheartedly to making our global community a better place. By encouraging students to enroll themselves in STEAM courses at a young age, they will lay a strong foundation for not only succeeding in these courses but will go on to achieve ground-breaking innovations in STEAM fields that will help collectively push our society forward in a sustainable and forward-looking environment. This will help us not only collaborate effectively, but it will allow us to provide a clean, safe, sustainable environment for humans for centuries to come. As an early education STEAM advocate, I volunteer at both the high school and elementary school levels in order to mentor and encourage young students to pursue exciting careers in architecture & engineering. I tell each student to believe that they can achieve anything they put their minds to, and can help pioneer a new era of innovative thinkers and dedicated professionals in architecture & engineering. Nothing is impossible.