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Becoming an Architect

April 23, 2020

Why our designers chose a career in architecture

A love of building with Legos. A profession that runs in the family. A passion for art, science, or math. There are many reasons creative minds pursue the field of architecture. In celebration of National Architecture Week, we check in with some of our designers in the United States to learn the very personal reasons they chose a career in architecture.

 

International Influence: Gustavo Alberti (Miami, FL)

Gustavo credits family for his career path, with inspiration coming from his late grandfather, an architect in Uruguay, and his uncle, a general contractor. His grandfather was a founder of the student center at the University of Uruguay and owned an architectural practice where he produced contemporary designs in the 1950s. While growing up in Buenos Aires, Gustavo spent a lot of time on construction sites with his uncle and doing renovations on the family home—learning how things are built and how materials interconnect, eventually developing a love for tectonic architecture. After high school he moved to Uruguay to study at the same university as his grandfather, and even inherited the drawing table and stool his grandfather used during his studies. 

Gustavo Alberti

Family Footsteps: Ken Anderson (Arlington, VA) 

Architecture runs deep in Ken’s family, who knew as a little boy that he wanted to follow in his family’s footsteps. His grandfather, a respected builder in the early 1900s in Oakland, California, captivated Ken with how he created spectacular homes for high-end clients including Domenico Ghirardelli, the famous chocolate mogul. Ken’s grandfather also made great personal sacrifices to ensure his employees continued to work through America’s Great Depression. This love and respect for design—and people—inspired Ken to want to create impactful work that survives well past a lifetime and makes a difference to those who experience it. Architecture is a legacy that Ken is proud to leave his children.

Ken Anderson

Like Father, Like Son: Ray Kesel (Rochester, NY) 

Ray fell in love with the industry at the early age of 10. He would spend evenings around his family’s kitchen table with his father, a general contractor, looking at blueprints and learning from him. Together, he and his father designed and built a large addition that tripled the size of his childhood home. Years later, Ray spent his summers and school breaks in high school and college working on construction sites and interning with architectural firms. After receiving his degree from the University at Buffalo, he began working with Stantec in 2004. Though Ray left briefly to complete his licensure as a construction site foreman and superintendent, he returned to Stantec in 2006, where he still works today.

Ray Kesel

Talent and Tenacity: Tom Oehler (Austin, TX) 

Tom inherited a strong artistic talent from both sides, a few generations, of his families. He balanced that creative side with his passion for building and found inspiration from watching the daily construction of a large church across the street from his family home. Tom wanted to follow his dream and study architecture, but limited resources led him to a small college that did not offer architecture or engineering classes. So Tom founded “Deck Hands,” his own construction company that allowed this entrepreneur to put himself through the University of Oklahoma and earn a degree in architecture. As the son of two schoolteachers, Tom had life-long appreciation for learning and channeled that into his work for creating inspiring education spaces for students. 

Tom Oehler

Bridge Builder: Jennifer Storey (Cleveland, OH) 

Even as a 7th grader, Jennifer knew she wanted to become an architect. In an industrial design course, she participated in a bridge-building contest, creating bridges out of popsicle sticks then testing the weight they could hold before failure. Jennifer won—and she was hooked. Creating something from nothing, understanding the factors that influenced it, and how these things in turn affect a community made Jennifer realize architecture was her future.

Jennifer Storey

Designing Her Own Path: Victoria Vicente (Sacramento, CA) 

As the daughter of two pharmacists with an extended family of doctors and accountants, art wasn’t an immediately obvious career choice for Victoria, who dove into science, math, and pre-med classes. But an elementary school art project she created as a youngster—a building made of craft materials—foretold what would become her true calling. Victoria realized she couldn’t suppress her creative passion and re-routed her career path: from pre-med student to design and drafting. Luckily a mentorship with a family friend who was an architect gave her a start and her mom and dad proved to be supportive too. In fact, her family’s history in medicine shaped Victoria’s focus on healthcare architecture. 

Victoria Vicente

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