Current occupation and title:
Kris Harris Architect and Real Estate Development - Principal
How long have you been working there?
After working for a both a small boutique architecture firm for 5 years and a large corporate firm for 7 years, I decided in 2012 to start my own practice. We employ a non-traditional approach towards buildings and construction. Our strongest asset is how we manage all the phases of building delivery; develop-design-build. Through our complete process, we can ensure our buildings do not compromise on design, while remaining true to a pro-forma.
What are some of the most exciting aspects of your occupation and career?
There is something really magical about designing something and then seeing it realized. As architects, we spend countless hours developing concept and vision for a design inside a virtual environment on the computer. On screen it can be difficult to grasp every influence a design will have in the physical world. I am always amazed when a design is finally constructed, we get to walk around the project and experience it with all 5 senses.
What would you consider as your greatest achievement in this occupation?
My next project. I am always in pursuit of striving for excellence.
What made you decide to go into this career?
I have always loved drawing and making things with my hands. I particularly love solving spatial challenges. When I was a kid, I used to rearrange the furniture in my room all the time, each attempt solving a different set of design constraints.
What made you choose Westphal over similar programs?
I loved the education option that allowed me to intern during the day in my future career while going to school at night. Within 6 months of graduation, I was able to sit and for the ARE (architectural registration exam) and become a licensed professional. The national average for architects to become licensed is 3 years of internship and 27 months of testing. I believe this opportunity gave me a real "leg up" among colleagues from other other universities.
How did your time at Westphal prepare you for your career?
My time at Westphal instilled a work ethic that is essential to my career as an architect. The collaborative and interactive educational environment of the design studio required we meet proposed deadlines and to always put our best foot forward. The ethos of the studio has given me to confidence to succeed in the professional realm.
Was our faculty helpful to you in making the transition from college to the professional world? And, are you still in contact with them today?
Absolutely, it was a professionally practicing, adjunct faculty member that helped me get hired at one of my first jobs. He has been a mentor throughout my career and we are definitely in regular contact with one another.
What advice would you give to young people in your field who are just starting their education?
Each summer, between semesters, a student must find a way to submerse themselves within a career setting. Volunteer. Shadow a professional. Find a internship. It is absolutely essential to "test drive" potential occupations associated with your field of study. Not only can this be a great networking tool but most importantly it is way to solidify your passions and learn to how to monetize your education.