Session 8: Developing Your Future within the Practice

Date: May 6, 2016
Location: AIA DC District Architecture Center
Time: 12:00 pm – 5:00pm
Led by: Laura Reyes, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP BD+C | Fentress Architects
& Adam Schwartz, AIA, NCARB | HGA Architects & Engineers

Session 8 PDF


The development of future trends, career paths and leadership development formed the framework for Session #8 – “Developing Your Future within the Practice”. The session was organized by Laura Reyes and Adam Schwartz, in the AIA DC District Architecture Center.

The day started with Elizabeth Kinkel presenting ‘Architecture and Beyond – Exploring Non-Traditional Career Paths.  Ms. Kinkel began by sharing her non-traditional architecture career path, catalyzed by the 2008-2009 recession.  At that time, she diverged from a traditional architecture career and worked for a vineyard and Whole Foods.  As the economy recovered, EB went back to architecture, while maintaining her other jobs and evolving her focus to the business and people side of architecture.  Throughout her work, she made key decisions based a criteria list or checklist:

  1. Who do you work with?
  2. Do you feel valued in this position?
  3. Are you able to grow professionally and learn?
  4. Does this create opportunities for mobility?
  5. How does this affect the greater good?

This checklist led her to question architecture vs. sales within the spheres of skills, passion, market, hobby, paycheck, goal and dream job/ unicorn.  Each of these spheres intersect with respects/values skills from the other, resulting in an understanding that the smallest of achievements is has an impact on career, and fundamentally, life choices.  Ms. Kinkel left the group with seven final thoughts:

  1. “be the change you want to see in the world” Gandhi
  2. Things will ALWAYS change
  3. get to know yourself
  4. ask others what you’re good at
  5. confusing is okay, it means you’re asking questions
  6. have mentors
  7. you define youSession 08 Photo 01

The class then recapped the year by returning to the Pecha Kucha exercise conducted at the Bootcamp Session in September of 2015.  Each scholar presented on the following three prompts:

  1. What makes you hopeful about the future of the profession?
  2. What makes you fearful about the future of the profession?
  3. What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned from the CKLDP?

The second presentation of the afternoon, a panel session titled ‘Work Life Balance,’ showcased Carlyn Sponza, Greg Holeyman and Paola Moya as they discussed their perspective on how to balance the many factors of maintaining a balance between one’s career and personal initiatives.

Ms. Sponza initiated the session by sharing her personal journey through goals/results, events and people/places, highlighting key moments and realizations, such as ‘design does not happen in a 40 hour work week’ and that ‘five years is a good period to master something and then do something else’ to continue to grow.’  She emphasized that one should not need an excuse for work life balance.  Three key takeaways from her presentation are:

  1. Decisions have consequences
  2. Pick three: work, family, friends, fitness, hobbies
  3. Read Everything: Believe some of it
  4. Imbalance can lead to growth

Mr. Holeyman spoke second about maintaining a balance while developing a practice.  The reason behind starting a practice was to having more flexibility and control over his schedule.  Emphasis was placed on the gender neutral nature of work life balance and the importance of dialogue as one focuses on maintaining this balance.

The final speaker, Ms. Moya, talked about the importance and discipline required to create time for personal pursuits, which has, in her career translated into better projects.  “It takes a lot of will power to take care of yourself and you are important.”  This discipline requires one to own decisions, mentor, and push people to be responsible and thrive.  Work life balance is not day to day – it happens over time.

Following the Pecha Kucha style presentations, the panel opened a discussion about how to achieve work life balance with the following key take-aways:

  • Timing never works out as planned. There are always outside forces, such as the economy, a job or a spouse.
  • A lack of work life balance can lead to burnout.
  • It is important to focus on diversification, both in background, skillset and experiences.

Session 08 Photo 02

The final presentation of the afternoon was ‘Keeping the Creative Passion Alive,’ given by Roger K. Lewis, who characterizes himself as a polymath – passionate about many things. Mr. Lewis described his career from MIT to Tunisia to firm owner to writer, as well as his passions outside of architecture.  It is important to love what you are doing and have a desire to keep learning.  As a writer for the Washington Post, Mr. Lewis learned how to write about architecture for a broad audience, finding that there is a general misunderstanding of architects and architecture.  This is due media, a lack of public outreach and a tendency for architects to talk amongst themselves, rather than the public.  Future generations of architects need to focus on public speaking and telling the story of architecture in a compelling manner.

Session 08 Photo 03

The group wrapped up the final session of the 2015-2016 class with a year in review discussion, facilitated by graphic artist ___________________.  The class talked about insights gained, experiences shared and inspiration taken forward.

Session 08 Photo 04