March 12, 2019
People always ask, how/why did you choose Architecture? It’s a rather interesting story…
Early in high school, I wanted to be a Paleontologist because of my interest in history and evolution. Since I excelled at math and was very artistic, a friend’s mother suggested Architecture instead, stating that I wouldn’t make any money as a Paleontologist (Ironic?). Naturally, she would say that…since Hollywood always portrays Architects as wealthy, living in self-designed uber modern homes!
I took the advice, blindly, and during career week, I visited a local Architecture firm. Of course, they had a completely different view of Architecture, so much so that they told me to choose another career path, that Architecture would be difficult, exhausting and thankless. While others might have taken their advice, it piqued my interest…I thought, well I can do it! I love a challenge. And with little knowledge of what the field of Architecture really was, outside of mechanical drafting class, I set out to become an Architect.
I attended college at NJIT, taking the necessary 20 credits a semester for a Bachelor of Architecture, all while working two jobs and playing for the, then Division III, woman’s soccer team. One job was an internship at LWDMR Architects in Jersey City, which was a great learning experience, working on projects from master planning to multi-family high rises. After graduating in 2002, I started full-time at USA Architects, where I flourished and absorbed all that I could for 8 straight years. I was afforded many opportunities and I aggressively tackled projects, insisting on being involved in a variety of types of Architecture and taking the opportunity to get out to construction sites, to broaden my knowledge and ensure I would become a well-rounded architect.
In the combined 10 years working at the two firms, I developed a love for Public Architecture. It is very rewarding to watch the end user experience a newly constructed or renovated space for the first time, especially when they are children and families. That reward drives my design approach, with a focus on the public, and their appreciation of the space.
At USA Architects, I met Frank A. Messineo, AIA, who joined the team the same year I did. In 2009, Frank ventured out on his own to form Solutions Architecture, Corp. A year later, I took a chance and joined him as his first full-time employee, with the hopes of helping to create and expand an approach that is unique, with a strong focus on clients and the building inhabitants. Two years later, I passed my last ARE exam and became a registered Architect and a member of the AIA. In 2013, I was named Associate Principal at Solutions Architecture. Today, Solutions Architecture has grown to 12 full-time employees in under 10 years, with a vast and ever-expanding client list.
Although it has been minimal, I have unfortunately experienced some sexism within the industry. However, not from the contractors as most people expect, but rather within the workplace, with elder staff who struggled with the idea of a strong-willed woman with her own opinions and suggestions. I’ve never let any comments hold me back; I’ve held fast to my approach and changed companies or projects where needed. With contractors, I’ve developed successful relationships of mutual respect. It is important to find the balance between asserting that the work is done correctly and respecting the position and knowledge of the contractor.
Now that I have a daughter, I certainly understand the work-life balancing act. It is a challenge; however, it is my personality to tackle challenges without fear of failure. While I treasure spending time with my daughter/family, Architecture is a part of my life and future. I feel it is important for my daughter to grow up seeing her mother committed to succeeding, which will hopefully teach her to be determined to achieve her own accomplishments and prepare her to take on life’s challenges with confidence.
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WIA, Women in Architecture, AIA, American Institute of Architects, New Jersey, Public Architecture, Solutions Architecture, solutions-arch
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By Stacey Ruhle Kliesch, AIA, AIA NJ Advocacy Consultant | Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: #AIA, #AIANJ, #AlexisGoldmanAIA, #AmericanInstituteofArchitects, #NewJersey, #PublicArchitecture, #solutions-arch, #SolutionsArchiecture, #WHM, #WIA, #womeninarchitecture, #WomensHistoryMonth | Comments (0)
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