Beth Brant, AIA, works at DSGN Associates as a project architect and director of sustainability. Brant received her Masters of Architecture from the Texas A&M University College of Architecture. She lives with her husband, daughter, and two beagles in Dallas.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Garland, Texas. Growing up in suburbia can be pretty boring for a kid. In my middle school days, just walking to the convenience store down the block seemed like a pretty daring or rebellious thing to do.
If you were not an architect, what other profession would you have pursued?
This is a tough one — I have pretty much always wanted to be an architect.
Starting at 11 years old, I began to “design" all kinds of different buildings — houses, apartment complexes, a shopping mall, and even a cruise ship!
But I’m really not trying to avoid the question… If I were not an architect, I would want to teach. I taught as an adjunct professor at a community college for a while, which I enjoyed very much.
Pen, pencil, or computer?
Pen. I learnt to draw on the computer before I learnt to draw with my pen, which is backwards from the order in which one should learn to draw. However, I can now truly appreciate the fluid nature that comes with drawing by hand. I have also learnt that I have a tendency to self-impose restrictions on my designs — the pen allows me the freedom to remove all unnecessary constraints.
Where do you find inspiration?
Magazines, books, lots of places… The one unexpected place I find inspiration in is my everyday commute. While on my weekday trek, I listen to music and find myself inspired as I drive though my post-World-War-I neighborhood, through downtown Dallas, over the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge (a.k.a. Santiago Calatrava’s bridge in Dallas), and into the charming suburb of Oak Cliff.
Not that all of the architecture on my commute is beautiful or awe-inspiring, but something about seeing the surrounding built environment every day allows for so many little takeaways — both good and bad — and lessons learned from the individual buildings’ lifespan and context.
What is the one building that you just had to see for yourself?
Piazza San Pietro in Vatican City (a.k.a. St. Peter’s Square). I recall sitting through weeks of architectural history class looking at seemingly hundreds of slides (yes, I am old; they still used slides back then) of this piazza with the poor professor desperately trying to explain it. I really wanted to understand, but I was lost.
It wasn’t until a few years later, when I was studying abroad, when we reached the entrance to Piazza San Pietro that I saw it and experienced the forced perspective first-hand. “Now I get it!” I happily exclaimed.
What is your favorite time of year?
Spring. We recently bought a house, and now I am attempting a garden for the first time ever. After enduring the brown grass and layers of leaves that stayed in the backyard all winter, it is exhilarating to see the bulbs we planted last year sprouting up again through the earth. It is like seeing everything as new again.
Do you have a favorite website or blog that you regularly visit?
Beer, wine, or cocktail — what is your drink of choice?
Cocktail. My husband makes an amazing Hendrick’s Gin and Tonic, as well as a killer Old Fashioned!
What type of advice would you offer to young professionals?
First: If at all possible, take all your ARE exams before you have kids. It makes things much, much easier!
Second: Design your own career path, and then actively and purposefully seek it out. Try and spend dedicated time to thinking about what you want, create short- and long-term goals, and then, go about accomplishing them one at a time. I know this is harder than it sounds, but no one else is going to do it for you.