AIA New Jersey Introduces Willia Gaillard, Associate AIA, in our Member Showcase

February 3, 2020


AIA New Jersey Introduces Willia Gaillard, Associate AIA, in our Member Spotlight


Willia Gaillard is on an unconventional path to architectural licensure. One that has been long and frustrating at times, but a path that has afforded her the opportunity to gain skills and experience to make her an incredibly qualified professional on the cusp of becoming registered.

Willia, a native New Yorker, graduated high school in 1996 and then started her higher education at SUNY Cobleskill on the path to becoming a veterinarian. While studying, she found her landscape architecture classes were drawing more of her interest. A professor of landscape architecture suggested she investigate architecture programs at other universities.

Willia transferred to the NYC College of Technology working towards a Bachelor of Arts in Architectural Technology. Working days in architecture and engineering firms to chip away at her IDP hours and build practical knowledge while attending school at night, she completed her degree after seven devoted years, with many great professors encouraging her all along the way. Having completed her experience hours simultaneously, Ms. Gaillard immediately sent her records to Albany in 2014, seeking approval to sit for the ARE.


Mom and brother Willio at Willia’s graduation at Madison Square Garden

Much to Willia’s disappointment, The NY State Board of Architects advised Willia that her BA in Arch Tech was not an NAAB accredited first professional degree, and therefore not satisfying their requirements. NY having flexible paths to licensure, invited Willia to work 4 more years, or complete a MArch degree and resubmit for consideration. Willia researched her educational options but just did not have the money to invest after 18 years already in.

Willia set to work for the NYC Department of Building as a plan examiner where she met a colleague who had suffered a similar fate after graduating from an associated but not NAAB accredited bachelor’s degree. He recommended that Willia apply to the Maryland State Board of Architects, whose policies offered options that could work with Willia’s current credentials.

Much to Ms. Gaillard’s delight, her education and work experience were both accepted by the state of Maryland and she was approved to sit for the Architectural Registration Exam!

Over the years, Willia has opened a restaurant, run a construction management company, served as a project advocate of her hometown, Brooklyn, and gained a surplus of practical experience. She has 1 part of the ARE under her belt and continues to push forward to finish the remaining parts before the rolling clock expires in 2022. 


Willia holding her daughter, Zariyah, and her wife, Nicola, holding daughter, Nailah, at Zariyah’s Christening


While Willia’s path may seem an exhaustive one, this determined woman knows it is all worth while as it is the same route that led her to marry her beautiful wife in 2017 and for them each to become mothers to their 5 and 15 month old children.

Since returning from maternity leave, Willia is now employed with RPO, Inc, as a project manager working in Manhattan and very excited about her bright future in architecture. Her new firm recently featured her arrival in their newsletter. Check it out HERE.

By | Posted in AIA-NJ News, Diversity, Emerging Professionals, EquityInArchitecture, IDP / ARE, Members In Transition, Women in Architecture | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments (0)



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