Meghana Joshi, Assoc. AIA, from Irvine, is practicing architecture, and teaching anyone who visits her blog or social media links about the power of design in the everyday existence of all humans.
She serves right now on the AIACC Communications Advisory Committee, a team of people helping with social media tasks and the design of the new AIACC website (soon to come). Here is what she had to say:
I am the Founder/ Chair of Women in Architecture Committee for AIA Orange County, Communications Committee member for AIA Orange County and AIACC, and a Peer Reviewer for AIA Conference on Architecture. Last year, I joined the Los Angeles team for “Girl Uninterrupted”, a 3- phase research project to bridge the gap between young designers of all genders, and leaders in the architecture field.
I am an Associate at William Hezmalhalch Architects based in Santa Ana.
Earlier this year, I wrapped up Construction Administration for Luxaira, a Senior Affordable Housing project in Irvine.
Currently completing construction, Crestavilla is a Residential Care Facility for the Elderly located in Laguna Niguel, California.
I am also an archimom to two wonderful daughters, and a Pekingese canine. I live in Irvine, CA with my husband and children.
When did you first learn you wanted to be an architect?
I grew up in Bijapur, India. Bijapur is the epitome of religious landmarks, decorated with citadels, palaces, mosques, mausoleums, whispering galleries, and daunting imperial office buildings. As the city modernized, the monuments were renovated and repurposed into restaurants, office spaces, and community spaces. My childhood comprised of life around Indo-Islamic architecture elements, such as arches and domes. Additionally, my frequent visits to South Indian temples, deriving design elements and patterns from math, added to my ever-growing interest in architecture. I wanted to be an architect to leave my mark on the world, designing buildings that left a legacy and told a story for the generations to come.
How has that dream translated into your reality?
After 15 years of learning, teaching and practicing architecture, my life as an architect resembles a melting pot. No longer am I the starry-eyed teenager dreaming of morphing into a Queen of Curves. I have become a jack of many trades, and a master of many tools. From my paper and pencil to AutoCAD and Revit, I easily and effectively transition between technology to communicate and express my ideas. As my exposure to various facets of design, documentation and construction administration increase, I apply what I learn to refine what I know and add value to my work.
Experience has taught me that a building is more than an aesthetic presentation of an enclosed space. It is about life and safety, and accessibility, and user experience. It is about the interwoven- interconnected social, environmental, and economic characteristics that lay within the walls and roof. From worrying about the environmental impact of choosing that virgin land to stressing about the footprint of the building material sourcing, to pondering over the social impact of having a diverse team of architects/ consultants and contractors, to agonizing over the economic impact of illegal and undocumented labor, the reality of what I do, and what I can do as an architect is beyond standard definition.
What can architects do to get the word out on how valuable design is to the everyday human experience?
According to the research conducted by Tom Albright, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, “Architectural design and environments are capable of eliciting an array of emotions, thus the physical, social, and aesthetic qualities of our surroundings can have a deep effect on people”. Every building we design shapes a community, yet the media chooses to focus on a handful of Starchitects, circling their wardrobes, personal lives, and quotable quotes. The daily victories and achievements of our friendly neighborhood architect designing our everyday spaces, is lost in the blur of colors, textures and patterns between the roles of architect, interior designer, and decorator.
As architects, it is our job to educate people of what we do. The more we share, the more they will know. Last year, Women in Architecture Committee AIAOC introduced architecture as a career choice for the Seniors in Rosary High School. Many of the students were not aware of what an architect does, let alone what a woman in architecture does.
People care so much the origin of the apple they are eating, and frown when they see titanium oxide listed as an ingredient on their cereal, yet they continue to live in buildings without thinking about the materials that make up the floors, walls and ceilings. Given that average humans spend over ninety percent of their day in built environment, it is up to us architects to educate them in making a sustainable and ethical choice.
We need to share with them the life and safety aspect that ensures their safety, accessibility that focuses on ease of use. We need to make an effort to help them understand sustainable design, and carbon footprint. We need to talk about our roles in helping create solutions to curb homelessness and strengthening inclusionary housing. We need to showcase what we do, rather than remain behind the scenes.
Something about you that others may not know:
As an archimom with full time employment, it is hard for me to do everything I want to do. Of late, I have started “mini-projects” on social media to continue my contributions towards equity in architecture.
#projectamplify. This Women’s History Month, I started “Project Amplify” to share the achievements of contemporary women in architecture by sharing links to podcasts featuring them and their publications. The aim is to amplify the voice enough to ensure recognition of the talents of the women in architecture around us, managing projects that require time commitments, volunteering at AIA to further the profession, mentoring juniors to help them ease into the profession, leading efforts to bring equity and equality in the profession, and being that everyday role model who someone can aspire to be. They exist, and it’s time everyone knows they exist.
#archimomshaveitall A thousand experiences, and a million unique paths to have it all, as defined by us – that is the theme of the Archimom Mother’s Day blogs – a mini project to gather stories from archimoms to help us know what it takes to balance life as an archimom, and document our experiences. As each generation progresses, and the world around us takes one step closer to an equal opportunity experience for parents of all genders, it is important that we document lives of everyday architects to reflect upon one day, and determine the extent of change our contributions brought to the profession.
I love sharing life as an architect, and as an archimom on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/meghanaira/