How long have you been at HOK, and how has your time here been so far?
I have been with HOK for two years. I have been given a lot of opportunity in a very short time. My time here has been really enjoyable and fulfilling.
How were you nominated for the AIA Young Associate of the Year award, and what does it mean to you?
The year I interviewed at HOK, another associate, Jason Pierce, had won the award. I was told that was one of the important measures of success for my first few years at HOK. I thought he was joking but a few years later Paul Woolford approached me and said the office was interested in nominating me. He took some time out of his busy schedule to help me understand the materials I needed for submission and also helped me brainstorm who I could get good letters of recommendation from. The award means a lot to me! It was satisfying to reflect on the great projects I had been a part of and hear the recommendations from relationships I had worked hard to establish during and after graduate school at California College of the Arts. I also was extremely happy to be endorsed by HOK.
Share a little bit with us about your background, and your research in bio-mimicry.
I come from a family of artists, developers, engineers, investment bankers and real estate agents, so Architecture has been a really good fit for me. I started in sculpture with an undergraduate degree from U.C. Santa Cruz. GO Banana Slugs! Then I worked in SF as a fabrication manager for the internationally recognized artist, Fletcher Benton, building monumental sculptures of steel and bronze. At that scale many of the tools I used were architectural by nature and when I decided to go back to graduate school I felt architecture was a better fit for the progression of my career. I was right, I love the amazing array of digital and fabrication tools available to contemporary design architects and the advanced software skills I have learned have helped me immensely in my current work both for HOK and the public art commissions and research I have done with Bios Design Collective. Nature and biology has always been a mentor and muse. I don’t really have an origin story to biomimicry in my art or design, it has just always been a part of my life and my style.
What advice would you give to someone in their final year in architecture school, about to graduate and looking for a job?
Trying to get a good job in sculpture after college taught me at a young age that you have to work extremely hard to land the job you want. After graduating from CCA, I would wake up every morning like I was going to work and I had a list of twenty or more websites I would check. I always sent out three resumes / portfolios a day no matter how hard it was to find new job listings. I worked for eight hours or more every day doing some type of research into possible work or new design concepts. I also checked the yellow book and the list of firms on Archinect and would send cold call portfolios digitally to firms I wanted to work at. I networked with any and everyone I could and I had my resume sent to HOK by three different people during the first four months after graduation. I took every opportunity to show my face in interested offices and loved the interview process. I interviewed at 6-8 places the same month I interviewed with Ted Davalos at HOK SF so I was well practiced and really had an understanding of my valuable skills and what I expected from an employer. Follow up to an interview is critical. Also, I did and still do enter as many competitions as I can because awards and celebration of one’s designs stands out in a crowd and a resume. I also looked for opportunities to publish my design work and lecture on contemporary design topics. I formed Bios Design Collective and Biosarch.com with my friend from grad school to show off my work to interested parties and it has continued even after I found employment because it is such a fun outlet. It allows me to do the creative projects and research on my own terms. An HR specialist suggested volunteer work at non-profits as a way to gain experience while you wait for the right long term career opportunity to open up. So in summary, love what you do and work hard to do it!