Name: Laura Wheaton, AIA
CivicLAB Class: 2013
Alma Mater: Virginia Tech
Hometown: Columbus, Ohio
Why was it important for you to take part in CivicLAB?
I was new to Baltimore at the time and CivicLAB helped me integrate more quickly into the local design community. I gained a more thorough understanding of the current advocacy issues and design conversations in our profession through presentations by Chris Parts and Klaus Philipsen, and met several like-minded fellow architects both in my year and when I’ve come back since to present.
Since participating in CivicLAB what new Leadership opportunities have you discovered?
I joined the board of AIA Baltimore in early 2017 so I could better contribute to defining the direction of our profession in the years to come.
How can architects/designers become better Advocates for the profession and the built environment?
Talk about architecture with non-architects frequently. Our built environment is the stage on which the play of life is set, so there is a way to make architecture relatable to anyone. Simultaneously, we as architects can learn from anyone’s experiences with the built environment. By understanding the issues that are important to our communities, we can better identify how we as architects might have a productive role in addressing those issues.
What makes this an exciting time to be a Citizen Architect in Baltimore?
Numerous conversations are gaining widespread attention that challenge our assumptions about the way we collectively live and interact. It’s crucial for architects to be part of those conversations so we ensure our contributions to the built environment are also contributing positively to our evolving modernity. This has been happening in Baltimore for awhile, but also now on a national level. They are difficult conversations, to be sure, but they demand our efforts.
Any hobbies outside of leadership, advocacy, architecture?
I’m always in the midst of a home improvement project, and am expecting my second child in March!
Interested in participating in CivicLAB? Applications are open through February 2! http://www.aiabaltimore.org/civiclab-2018/