Insight

Staff Spotlight: Josephine Penta, AIA, LEED AP

Talented architect, BIM leader, and baker (oh my!) Josephine Penta joined us to discuss her career thus-far.

Insight
December 1, 2021
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This month we sat down with Associate Architect Josephine Penta, AIA, LEED AP. As valuable project manager for the firm, Josephine is currently leading active projects across multiple market sectors including higher education, libraries, and new developments. Not only is she a trusted client partner, but she leads our internal Building Information Modeling (BIM) team, developing procedures and rigorous standards. Between leading projects, improving BIM standards and practice, and many other talents including incredible baking skills, Josephine took some time to sit down with us and answer some pressing questions we are all curious to know!

Q: What inspired you to become an architect? Did you always know you wanted to be one?

J: Throughout my childhood, you could either find me with a pencil in my hand or a whisk. I took art classes all throughout high school and decided to take my drawing passion further. My father is a mason (retired now but still talks about it ALL the time 😊) – regularly hearing about his day at work and seeing so many buildings that he took part in creating, it seemed natural to take my drawing passion into the architectural field.

Josephine’s sketches and drawings from ages 9 to 20

I didn’t completely drop the whisk. One of my hobbies is baking (yes you could always find me in the kitchen with my mom!) and I managed to integrate the two by entering the firm into gingerbread competitions for the Boston Society for Architecture. Through the years we’ve managed to build some elaborate gingerbread creations.

Image of one of Josephine’s early pieces, Old North Church (L) (one her favorites) and one of her last pieces Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany (R)

Q: If you could give advice to a young designer what would you say?

J: Some tips I would give are to follow your heart and don’t be afraid to ask questions. The road can seem very long at times, but it makes the reward that much better. Talking to mentors and asking a lot of questions along the way will help you through the process.

Q: What inspires you and pushes you forward in your design process?

J: Mostly what inspires me in this profession is knowing we’re creating a better “place” for people and the community. I enjoy the many phases of project development and working with clients through the process. The completion of a project and knowing you are part of something much bigger is a great feeling. I sometimes go by a building my dad had a part in creating 30+ years ago and not only does it trigger a great memory but is always inspiring seeing the building so many years later and knowing that I’m doing the same.

Q: How did you come about leading the Firm’s BIM group?

J: My interest in drafting software started in school. I took a CAD drafting class in college and had a great professor that gave me the upper hand with AutoCAD. From there I was always testing out new techniques to develop drawings. As things began to shift to 3D modeling, I jumped right in and never looked back. Even though the software has changed, the same rules apply. There are more ways than ever to utilize the software and develop not only a set of drawings but also a live model which is challenging but also very exciting. So, it came natural to me to be part of the Firm’s BIM group and after many years of developing standards and best practices to now lead this group and keep moving forward with new technology that comes our way.

Q: Do you have a favorite city to visit for architecture?

J: Generally, I hold Italy dear to me as my parents were born there and I still have a lot of family located throughout the country. In my travels to Italy, the roof tops in Florence are somewhat imprinted in my memory. The unique character of the city is breathtaking and worth a visit if you haven’t been (but try to go on the off-season).

Sketch from one of Josephine’s visits to Florence

Q: Do you have a favorite building?

J: I don’t have a favorite building – there are too many great pieces.  However, I’ll share the last one I’ve been to that was the most exciting to visit which is Calatrava’s Transportation Hub at the World Trade Center in New York. The transformation of that entire site is quite powerful. This isn’t the first Calatrava building I’ve visited but you can’t help to be somewhat taken aback when you first enter the awe-inspiring space.

Calatrava’s Transportation Hub

Stay tuned for next month’s Staff Spotlight feature!