Growing up in a home that valued giving back to community, it only makes sense that Virginia is joining HMC to give back in her own way: designing schools to create a positive impact. Located in HMC’s Los Angeles office, Virginia will be instrumental in serving and expanding our Pre-K–12 client base by working with school districts and their teams, strategic partners, and internal members to ensure success at an operations and business development level.
How and where did your career in architecture begin?
I have an undergraduate degree in architecture from the School of Architecture at Louisiana Tech University. During my time there, I was also an intern with Hebert Land Architects in Monroe, Louisiana.
What unique experience and skillsets do you bring to HMC that our Pre-K–12 clients would like to know about?
I’ve devoted most of my career to creating optimal learning environments of all sizes and complexities. As curriculums and learning environments change, I understand the planning challenges schools face and I have the ability to develop alternative approaches to solve them. My leadership experience in Pre-K–12 education facilities includes district-wide, multiple facility improvements, renovations, additions, and new construction of high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools.
What does your new role at HMC entail and what do you hope to accomplish?
I’m leading the Los Angeles Pre-K–12 team at an operations and business development level. I hope to develop great relationships with school districts and their team and be the school district’s trusted advisor; be a resource for and mentor the Pre-K–12 team and share my Pre-K–12 and project management experience and expertise with the team; and create a collaborative/sharing working environment where everyone on my team enjoys coming into the office to work together on incredible projects.
How do you see architecture profession evolving, and where do you see us going?
As the business model changes—along with the challenges we’ve historically solved for clients—it’s important for us to look at ways to work smarter and more efficiently. This requires a more open approach where we bring in experts outside of architecture that specialize in things like research and development, technology, automation and data. As architects, we also need to have conversations with educators to help us understand how learning is changing and contribute value in ways that transcend our traditional roles. The future is in big data, and it’s going to drive everything. That is good news for our clients.
What do you feel are the biggest challenges facing the Pre-K–12 market and how can architects help clients face those challenges?
Learning is changing. Because of that, architects need to actively partner with educators to reimagine learning environments that prepare kids for life after graduation. Neat rows of desks are no longer the norm in today’s “next gen” learning environments. And since we don’t know what education looks like in five or 10 years, we must work with stakeholders to create flexible spaces that can adapt over time. Construction costs are also rising, so we need to look at different ways to approach construction in order to build more efficiently.
What attracted you to HMC?
Clients and districts spoke so highly of HMC. I wanted to work for a firm that clients loved to work with, a firm that was exceeding client expectations. HMC also has an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), where everyone is a firm owner and has a stake and a voice in ensuring the success of the firm.
What motivated you to become a Pre-K–12 architect?
Growing up in Southern Louisiana, I was immersed in the rich southern culture at a young age. I was also taught the value of giving back to your community. My parents have always been active in their community and church. Working in education is my way of giving back to my community and making a positive difference to the built environment, besides the profession itself. I enjoy meeting with school administers, teachers, parents, the community, and especially students to understand their wants and needs.
What is your ultimate goal when it comes to your work and how do you want to be remembered?
When I began my own architectural journey, I was fortunate to meet several influential people who became great mentors and friends of mine. These people generously shared their time, knowledge, and experience. Not only did these mentors aid my learning and increase my enjoyment of architecture, they have also inspired me to stay engaged and share my knowledge and experience with the next generation of architects.
What are your passions outside of architecture?
My husband and I enjoy listening to and playing music. If we’re not jamming with my husband’s brother’s family in Camarillo, I’m often found in a quiet corner of our apartment lost in a mystery novel. I stay active with Pilates, swimming at the YMCA or beach, urban hiking, and exploring my current city of Los Angeles. We also spend lots of quality time with family and friends in Southern California, Louisiana, and New Mexico.