Name: Gabriela Baierle-Atwood AIA
Job title and company: job captain, Arrowstreet; AIA Massachusetts architect licensing advisor, National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB)
Degree(s): BS, Environmental Design, North Dakota State University; MArch, North Dakota State University
Professional interests: Cultural, academic, higher education, project management and delivery, leadership and mentorship
What are you working on now?
I was recently on a team for a commercial project, and then transitioned to Arrowstreet’s Education studio. Beyond that, I was part of the Boston Society of Architects/AIA (BSA) MakeTank team designing and building at ArchitectureBoston Expo (ABX) 2016; I am also involved with the BSA Emerging Professionals Network (EPNet) and the Boston chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects (BosNOMA). Other than that, I am writing for the Young Architects Forum (YAF) CONNECTION magazine, collaborating on a paper with a friend in Brazil, and getting gears together to join a team in the Fairy Tales competition by Blank Space.
How do (or how did you) you explain to your mom what you do for a living?
I like to say that I work within a team of designers to translate our clients’ needs and wants into a creative and feasible space. I also like to make clear that our work as architects usually entails lots of coordination between an array of different people and professions, which requires strong leadership skills and no fear of hard work. At that point in the conversation, we connect over how hard the women in my family have worked, and how proud we all are of that.
What inspired you today?
The most amazing morning light coming through my apartment’s windows.
What architectural buzzword would you kill?
This may be beyond the architectural profession, but I have a huge pet peeve: people seem to depend on the term “glass ceiling.” I think it often reifies achievements and diminishes differences, instead of celebrating them.
When you’re working, do you discuss or exchange ideas with your colleagues?
All the time. I am loving that about Arrowstreet.
Above: Image courtesy of NCARB blog.
What are you reading?
I just finished Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, which was very enjoyable. I am also reading Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves. It is a phenomenal book if you like science fiction literature, but it’s even better if you can appreciate the potential of space ventures through an architect’s eyes, in how humans habitats are strongly shifted and adaptation is a must… OK, no more spoilers.
Do you sketch by hand or digitally?
By hand, but I love to post-produce on Adobe Photoshop.
Has your career taken you anywhere you didn’t expect?
Yes—the United States of America. I am originally from Brazil. I moved here to attend architecture school in 2010, and ended up finding amazing career opportunities and the love of my life. It was quite the unexpected turn, and it just keeps going. I am excited to see what happens next.
Where is the field of architecture headed?
I hope it is headed to a future filled with cultural diversity and interdisciplinary collaboration with other fields.
Can design save the world?
I wouldn’t be my hopeful self if I didn’t say yes to this question. I think that as architects we should always be, at the very minimum, working toward it. It’s the least we can do, right?
What do you hope to contribute from your work?
I’m really interested in the space between what architects produce, how it gets produced, and how it relates back to the community in which it exists. I hope to learn a lot about this through my career, and exercise it in my body of work.
Who or what deserves credit for your success?
I have a pretty incredible support system composed of family, friends, and mentors. They’ve believed in me much more than I have ever believed in myself, and for that I am very grateful. I know how fortunate I am to have them in my life.
Above: Image courtesy of NCARB blog.
Your least favorite college class?
I took an entomology class once. That was not a good idea.
If you could give the you-of-10-years-ago advice, what would it be?
Don’t listen to the bullies. Keep working hard.
Your favorite Boston-area structure?
I think the new East Boston Branch of the Boston Public Library (William Rawn Associates, Architects) is a very successful building. I live so close to it and have spent quite a bit of time there studying and reading. A little out of my immediate community, I fell head over heels when I saw the new Tozzer Anthropology Building at Harvard University (Kennedy & Violich Architecture).
Who would you like the BSA to interview next?
Someone in an academic position who collaborates with architects intensely, like a campus architect.
If you were on a late-night TV show, what would your 30-second plug be?
Architects have the honor to stride the lines between intervening in (and for) our environment, affecting sociocultural habits through these interventions, and building a body of work through drawings. The way we produce all of this, and the way we valuate ourselves in doing so, matter.
If you could sum up your outlook on life in a bumper sticker, what would it say?
“Flow sweetly, hang heavy.” Lyrics from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs song,“Hysteric.”