Women in Architecture Series
Kirsten is a Stockholder at Steffian Bradley Architects and is the Managing Principal of SBA’s Connecticut Office. She sat down with us to talk about her experiences as a women in architecture.
What influenced your decision to become an architect/designer? When did you know you wanted to be one?
I knew I wanted to be in design in high school, but I didn’t know what type of design, so I went to undergrad for interiors and graphic design and then I knew my sophomore year that I wanted to be an architect. I just knew that I wanted to be part of the bigger ‘design’ picture. That decision also was based off the architecture summer program I did abroad in Italy with Syracuse University. I completed my undergrad at RIT and went straight on to get my masters in architecture at Virginia Tech, I wanted to go somewhere warmer.
By your own estimation, what percentage of your graduating peers were women?
We probably had maybe a third to half of the class that was women. Now, how many of those women are actually practicing, I’m not sure. I would say that most of them are still in design, whether or not they are licensed.
What drew you to your specialty, healthcare architecture?
I come from a family of physicians and it was nice to have something to relate to with my father and my sister. Also, I knew from a technical standpoint I wanted something more challenging, as opposed to residential architecture. I also wanted something with meaning behind it where I could make a better place for patient, families and staff.
When you first entered the workforce, did you benefit from having a female mentor?
*laughing* No, they were all men. The female mentors that have come out for me are people that I’ve worked with-clients-that are healthcare VP’s, women, that have been inspiring to me.
What is your advice to young women just entering or thinking of entering this field?
Make sure you intern! You should go into architecture because you are fascinated by it and you love putting puzzles together and pulling teams together. That’s what I do, I put teams together to succeed, and from the architect standpoint it’s not just about the design of the building, but about how we put that team together to make a building work—that’s the unwritten piece of what architects are good at, at least in my eyes.
What is the best advice you’ve ever been given (in general)?
You’re not going to know everything, and that’s okay to admit as long as you find the resources to solve it and learn form it!