Interview with Alison Briggs

November 12, 2012 § 1 Comment

How did you arrive at your current position?  What is something that stands out from that path?

After graduating from SCAD in 2007 I was lucky enough to have a job lined up with VOA and Associates in Orlando Florida working in their hospitality department, which is the area of design I always thought I wanted to peruse. Once the recession hit though, I was soon laid off. Not long after that I met a designer with Little Diversified Architectural Consulting and knew it would be the perfect fit for me! After months of waiting, many follow up emails and two interviews I got the job! I was hired as a junior designer focusing on workplace design. This is where I realized workplace design is what truly interested me and was where I wanted to be. I learned so much during my time there and that stands out to me as one of the turning points in my career. After working there for a few years my husband and I moved to Raleigh NC where I transferred to Little’s Durham office. While working there I met a designer working for Gensler who told me that Gensler was looking to open a Raleigh office and needed someone with my skill set and experience. Gensler was always an ultimate goal of mine and I was so excited to have the opportunity to not only work for them, but to help create a new office with them. This was the second turning point in my career, moving from junior designer to lead a designer on projects and helping to create a new office in a new market.  I have now been with Gensler for two years and work as a designer in their Raleigh office.

What type of projects do you work on most often?

The majority of the projects I work on are workplace projects, including everything from multiple floors for a corporate headquarters to small startup companies and law firms.

How would you describe your design style and approach?  Who or what inspires you?

I would describe my design style as classic with pops highlighting current trends and technology throughout. I try and create a timeless design that best describes our client’s wants and needs, while incorporating current trends and technology. I am inspired by many things, one of them being our client and the type of work they do – this is where I always try and start my basis of design. Then I am inspired by the world around me, cultures, food, fashion, art and music to name a few.

Any particular struggle that altered your design philosophy? How do you feel you have evolved?

Something that has altered my design philosophy over time is our clients! There is this constant balance between giving the client what they want and ask for, and using our expertise and knowledge of the industry to give them what they may actually need. Throughout my career I have learned that these two things do not always align and it is our job to figure out how to accomplish both. When you can do this though, it usually creates the most rewarding end results.

When do you stand firm on something that is questioned by a client or contractor?  What helps define which battles you fight?

I tend to stand firm on things with clients and contractors when they are critical to the design and will have a big impact on the overall concept. If something is just not working in the field we try and work around it – but whenever possible I try and keep things as they were originally designed. When working out a design in CD’s we try and work through/around any issues that may come up so if/when they are questioned we can back them up, this will usually help win those battles.

What impact, if any, has the economy had on your approach to design?

The economy has always influenced my design because I started working right at the very worst time in our economy. Budget restraints and cutting costs have always been a part of my approach to design because it has all I have ever known.

Where do you see the future of architectural education going?

I see the future of architectural education getting more hands on. There is only so much that can be taught in a classroom – I feel there will be, or should be, more required internships and time spent in real working firms, because those are the places people learn how to problem solve, work as a team and work with real clients.2. What is your ultimate goal when it comes to your work?  What do you want to be remembered for?

My goal when it comes to my work, at the end of the day, is to make my clients happy and to have them trust me. I always want to design an amazing space that I am proud of, but when I can also design a space that my client is proud of, that is the real accomplishment. I want to be remembered for great design, no matter what the budget, and for every space to feel thoughtful and unique.

Provided by Brian Slevar

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