Born and raised in Brazil, Gabriela is a highly involved professional within the local and national architecture industries. Gabriela joined Finegold Alexander in fall of 2021, and has undoubtedly made her impact on firm projects and culture. As an architect practicing, writing, and teaching in Boston, Gabriela has earned an impressive portfolio of achievements in her young career thus far, most recently recognized as a recipient of the 2020 AIA Young Architect Award. The award honors individuals who have demonstrated exceptional leadership and made significant contributions to the architecture profession early in their careers. Next week, she will be traveling to Chicago, joined by Rebecca Berry, AIA, LEED AP and Tony Hsiao, AIA, LEED AP, for the 2022 AIA Conference where the AIA Young Architect Award classes of 2020, 2021 and 2022 will be recognized. Gabriela was kind enough to make some time in her busy schedule to sit down and talk with us about her career, inspirations, advice and more.
Q: What inspired you to become an architect?
G: I was one of those kids who drew all the time. My father is an artist, so I always connected art with the space in which it lives. When I was young, my grandfather developed and built a couple of residential buildings in my hometown in Brazil. Seeing floor plans for the first time, and the buildings being constructed, were formative experiences for me. By the time I finished high school (which was heavily spent drawing in classes) it was obvious I would be an architect.
Q: You were named AIA Young Architect Award Recipient in 2020, congratulations! Now that we finally get to celebrate in person at the upcoming AIA Conference, what does that recognition mean to you?
G: The recognition is extremely humbling. I was not expecting to receive it. For someone who struggles with Imposter Syndrome, it threw me for a real big loop. Throughout my application, I focused on asking people what they thought of my work and incorporating their thoughts – it became a very third-person portfolio... Those words in themselves mean a lot to me, and the fact that the jury also saw them as impactful was very reassuring and gave me the encouragement to keep doing my thing.
Q: What are you most looking forward to at the conference?
G: The prospect of meeting the rest of the 2020 AIA Young Architect Award class is really exciting. I look up to a lot of the recipients and would love to get to know them. Having received the award in 2020 meant we never got the chance to connect until now, so I’m looking forward to that.
Q: You are heavily involved in several organizations outside of the firm. Could you tell us a bit more about those groups, and how they shape you professionally?
G: Well, I started in the profession in an area where very few people looked like me (immigrant, Latina, woman), and I craved being surrounded by and learning from folks of all kinds of backgrounds. I am also genuinely curious about the professional infrastructures that support architectural work, and to me, there is always this added filter of being a foreigner – I can’t not have it. I would say each group that I’ve volunteered with have all brought rewarding learning experiences and have allowed me to be a resource for others, and in particular those who do look like me.
Q: Do you have a favorite city to visit for architecture?
G: I’d visit São Paulo or New York any day.
Q: Do you have a favorite building or perhaps a favorite architect?
G: I’m always asked that question and without a doubt I always fumble because there are too many… I think intrinsically I always feel a deep connection to the work of Paulo Mendes da Rocha, but that’s definitely not the end of the list – the list is actually quite long!
Be sure to stay tuned for next month’s July Staff Spotlight!