Architects Talking to Architects: Christy Seals, AIA, of Austin

Christy Seals, AIA, is an architect and founding partner at Loop Design, a firm that specializes in residential design projects with expertise in rainwater collection and other sustainable building systems. Seals earned her Masters of Architecture from The University of Texas at Austin and has worked in construction and architecture, driven by an interest in experiencing directly how buildings come to be, and the different roles the architect can play in this process. 

Christy Seals, AIA – courtesy Christy Seals

Where did you grow up?

Mainly in Yorktown, Virginia — home of battlefields from the Revolutionary War and the cave where Cornwallis holed up at the end of that war before the British surrendered. My father worked for NASA his whole career, so we moved back and forth between the headquarters in Washington D.C. and the Langley Air Force base location near Yorktown.

Do you have a particular sort or brand of pen that you prefer when sketching?

I used to work with a guy who sketched on yellow trace with a fountain pen filled with brown ink. I was mesmerized by that thick, lovely flowing line. I wanted to be like him. But the reality is that I am a messy sketcher, so my pen needs to not be. So I use the Uni-ball roller pen with the micro point. 

Do you listen to music when designing? What kind?

No way, never. It’s probably weird, but I find it totally distracting. And I always have. The only time I could listen to music was when I was physically building a model in studio. 

What is your favorite city to visit?

I can’t pick just one. In the United States, I would say Seattle and Charlottesville, Virginia. Seattle for coffee, hiking, and the friends we have there, and Charlottesville for the nostalgia of my college days and the beauty of the University — and the fact that the same restaurants and bars we went to in 1988 are still there! 

With a friend of my husband's in Seattle at Gasworks Park, with Lake Union in the background. – photo courtesy Christy Seals

Pavilion 9 on the Lawn at University of Virginia in Charlottesville – photo by Christy Seals 

Abroad, I would say Rome, because I worked there during graduate school, and the city is an endless adventure in history, food and architecture. And the people there are so friendly.

Peppers at the market at Campo de' Fiori in Rome – photo by Christy Seals

Do you feel there is a disconnect between architectural education and the practice of architecture? 

I’m not sure there is any more of a disconnect with architecture than with other professions. Academia and practice are always going to have different interests, and I think that’s okay. That’s why it’s important to get some work experience in an office while you're in school. One thing that I appreciated about my experience at UT was the interest in collaborative projects, where we worked in teams within the school and sometimes across disciplines. Communicating design ideas to people who are not architects is how I spend a lot of my time, and the process of figuring out how to do this can start in school.

If you could correct one misconception about architects, what would it be? 

That we don’t understand construction. I think a good architect understands how what is drawn on the page translates into someone working in the field.

What is your drink of choice?

This time of year, I love a Michelada. With Pacifico, lots of lime, spice, and a salted rim.

"Architects Talking to Architects" is a column on the Texas Society of Architects blog that spotlights members from across the state at different points of development in their career. All participants are given the same set of questions with instructions to answer any six, giving them the opportunity to highlight the items they feel are most interesting. If you would like to join in this conversation and be featured in "Architects Talking to Architects," email communications@texasarchitects.org.