Architect Profile: Jennifer A. Workman, AIA
Texas architect Jennifer A. Workman, AIA, based in Dallas, was honored by AIA with a 2013 Young Architects Award for her leadership role in advocating for the needs of emerging professionals within the society. In this recent interview with AIA, Workman discusses the guiding principles for her design work, and the projects she finds most inspiring.
For eight years Good Fulton & Farrell has given Jennifer every chance to make what she wanted out of her career through exciting projects and, most important, its support of her professional service with the AIA. Jennifer has been a pioneer for the voice of emerging professionals. Her role as 2012 chair of the Young Architects Forum afforded her the opportunity to represent the 23,000 young architects who don’t have a voice but are struggling within an aging society in need of change. She is educating all levels of society that this change can be embraced, and with the help of the AIA’s Young Architects Forum, she is creating a roadmap for them to do this. She is currently project architect at Good Fulton & Farrell in Dallas.
Hometown: San Antonio, Texas
Last architecture book read: My life is enveloped by my profession so in my free time I don’t read many books about architecture, though my bookshelf would claim otherwise. I do enjoy finding architectural bookstores with out-of-print books and periodicals.
How did you make the decision to pursue a career in architecture?
My stepfather, also an architect, tried to talk me out of the architecture profession by giving me a job when I was 15. I built models with college students late into the night, which at 15 was one of the coolest things I had done. He also thought he would make it more “real” by paying me pennies.
Where did you go to architecture school?
University of Texas at Austin. Hook 'em!
Did you have a specialization?
I researched museums when I pursued an architectural semester abroad program traveling through most of Europe. I think this benefited me as I worked on the Perot Museum with Morphosis.
What do you like best about being an architect?
No two projects are ever the same so I always feel like I am learning something and being challenged.
How do you define creativity and apply it to your career?
Creativity is thought of as being initiated with the initial design of a building. At my job I receive a design from a principal and I get to turn it into fruition. I have found I apply most of my creativity to solving how all the details work and still maintaining the initial design intent.
Do you approach architecture from an artistic or functional starting point? Are the two concepts exclusive?
The two concepts are not exclusive, and I think that architects are the best at serving them mutually. One of the things that make architects unique is their ability to look at things from an artistic standpoint but maintain the logic required to create something balanced.
What’s your favorite building and why?
For me it is any work done by Peter Zumthor. Traveling through Europe I experienced Kunsthaus Bregenz in Austria and the Therme Vals in Switzerland. Both projects use their materials and light to evoke emotion as you progress through the space. They do this using the inherent properties and assets of the materials and it left me speechless as I walked through them.
If any, who are your role models?
I have met quite a few people who have inspired me. Most notably has been working with Morphosis on the Perot Museum. The designers, team members, and project leaders all were in a class of their own. It was exciting to work with them and take that back with me to Dallas.
What project have you worked on that you are the proudest of the result?
The Perot Museum with Morphosis is my biggest achievement to date. My company, Good Fulton & Farrell loaned me to Morphosis for 4 years. A year and a half was spent in their design office in California and the rest of the time was on site through the entire construction phase in Dallas. It is a project that I learned so much from and it is making such a positive impact to Dallas. The public has been very receptive to such a modern and iconic piece of architecture.
If you had to choose one of your projects to represent your work, what project would you choose?
Remodeling my 1938 Arts and Crafts home is the project that represents me the most. It is the one project that I make all of the decisions for and it truly reflects my personality. The challenge comes from selling the changes to my husband!
What projects, other than your own work, do you find inspiring?
It has been exciting to live in Dallas as it has turned itself into a destination simply from its architecture. The public is excited about coming downtown again and that is evident by how the streets don’t clear out at 5 p.m. The public doesn’t always understand that the built environment can affect them and seeing Dallas’s transformation positively influence change is inspiring.
What are your guiding principles for your design work?
Good architecture isn’t about ego. Ego does play its part, but it’s really about being able to work with owners, consultants, contractors, and subcontractors to determine the best way the intent can be created.
What do you want to be your legacy?
I want to continue to be a part of buildings that create a positive experience with the public. It has been exciting to see an institution like the Perot Museum have membership increase simply because they have an iconic new building.
Reprinted with permission from AIA. View the original article on the AIA website.