880. A Day in the Life: What's It Really Like to Be an Architect?
“In 1988 we visited Beaufort, fell in love with the area, and soon after moved here and opened our firm. When we first started we were doing whatever work we could do—churches and schools and buildings of all kinds. But after we had been in business about 10 years, we realized the projects we really enjoy doing were the customer residential ones. So that’s when we started focusing exclusively on custom residential work. We do everything from a small bathroom remodeling to designing a brand new house—creating a house from the ground up for a particular client. You know, when you move into an existing house, you make the house work for you. You might turn the dining room into a study, or you might make the space work for whatever needs you have. But when you start from scratch or when you’re doing a major remodel, you can really make the house work for the particular needs of the people that are living there.”
Jane Frederick, FAIA, is the 96th President of The American Institute of Architects. She is a principal at Frederick + Frederick Architects, which received AIA South Carolina’s 2017 Firm Award and Southern Living magazine’s Best Renovation of 2009. The Beaufort, SC firm specializes in custom residences and has earned over 20 design awards. Jane has served AIA in many roles, at-large director on the national Board of Directors, as chair of the AIA Small Firm Round Table, president of AIA South Carolina. She has also chaired numerous local planning boards and is a fellow of the Aspen Global Leadership Network.
The Most Impactful Turning Point?
“My dad got his degree in mechanical engineering from Auburn and spent most of his career in aerospace engineering at the Arnold U.S. Air Force base near the small town of Tullahoma, Tennessee, where we lived. My mother was an interior decorator, so my early influences were from two people whose combined talents were an ideal mix of what it takes to be an architect. Then, my art teacher in high school, my first mentor, is the one who was the biggest catalyst to motivate me to research and explore the possibilities of architecture as my university and career focus. So, I headed off to Auburn and did just that.”
The Most Powerful Lessons and Experiences?
1. If you are thinking about where you want to go to school to be an architect, you should visit the NAAB (National Architectural Accrediting Board) website. It’s NAAB.org. Their teams visit the colleges and universities to accredit them. They write a detailed report after the campus visit that talks about what are the strengths of that program. This is really helpful because it’s a third party independent viewpoint as opposed to what the school is saying their strengths are.
2. I benefited from a few internships while in college: at the center where my dad worked one summer, and other design projects that were available around the campus, which were very small but comprehensive because we designed them and priced them out, and they would be built pretty quickly. I also illustrated a book for one of my professors, a fun project.
3. After graduating I moved to Washington, D.C., and after a 9-month stint at a local firm I was fortunate to be hired by a custom residential design firm and immediately enjoyed the work, which I did for about 6 years. I think that is what really got me into defining custom residential work as my niche.
4. When we opened our own firm in 1988 we took on projects of all kinds—from churches to schools and various types of businesses. After about 10 years we decided that the projects that gave us the greatest satisfaction and used the best of our talents were custom residential ones.
5. Getting to know your clients and what their real needs and wants are regarding the house you will be designing for them is a truly fascinating process. We’ve developed a very comprehensive way to do that over our many years in business and continue to refine and learn from our experiences with people from around the country who move here, usually to retire.
6. Creating a home for clients that they love and cherish for many years to come is very gratifying. So many clients have told us, “I honestly didn’t know the finished house was going to be this great or give us this much joy living here every day.”
Connecting With Jane Frederick
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