Sunday, 29 July 2012 18:13

A Discussion with Andrea Feniak

Written by  Solange Blevins
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SolangeNoir Andrea.1 sAndrea Feniak has been practicing architecture in some form for nearly 20 years. She graduated in 1991 from Temple University (Philadelphia) with a Bachelor of Architecture (BArch) degree which is a 5 year professional degree. She received her license to practice in 2000 and is currently a Senior Associate at Stantec Architecture in their Georgetown office. Andrea specializes in the design and construction of higher education teaching facilities with a focus on science labs. She is also a LEED accredited professional with a specialty in buildings, design & construction (LEED AP BD+C)


1. What inspired you to become an architect?

Since childhood I have always been fascinated with the built environment and how buildings are put together. I was always the kid looking up at the skyline or the one staring into construction sites.


2. Who do you consider your inspirations?

In both my personal and professional life I am inspired by people who are honest and who have worked hard for their rewards.


3. Do you think your personal style (fashion/decorating) influences your architectural designs and vise versa?

Interesting question! Architecture is a lot like fashion; styles change and very quickly a "look" can appear dated. The challenge for architectural design is in striking a balance between current trends and timeless beauty. For my own practice, I am designing institutional buildings with a 50 plus year lifespan so I am continual challenged to create spaces that can evolve with changing times. For my own style, as most architects do, I favor a wardrobe that is mostly black and in my home I like practical pieces that have multiple uses or items that have a "story".

4. Is there one bit of knowledge you would share with your 20 yo self, if you could, to make your professional path easier?

I would tell myself to be more confident in my abilities!

5. What are 3 things you would advise potential architects?

Architecture isn't just a "job" it is, in many ways, a way of life. Every architect learns this early through the rigor of the (university) studio setting.

Grow from criticism. Part of the training is to defend your ideas - taking offense is counter productive.

Remember that architects have the responsibility to create designs that protect life. This is what separates us from conceptual (fine) artists. If you decide to enter this profession you should understand that you are not only creating beautiful environments you are also creating safe places for people.


6. Do you find that your gender makes a difference in the field?SolangeNoir Andrea.2 s

As a whole, architecture is still a male dominated profession. In the academic setting I believe that the genders are equalizing but in my own practice I don't often see women at the highest levels. There are times when I am the only woman on the job site and it takes some of the contractors some to realize that I really do know what I am doing.


7. What was your favourite project, to date?

Each new project becomes my favorite! I can't single out one.


8. If you could do it all over again, would you choose the same profession?

Yes. I can't imagine doing anything else.

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