This month’s Staff Spotlight is all about Kate Theodoridis, a Finegold Alexander Designer who is enthusiastic about sustainability and project management. Kate attended Syracuse University where she received her Bachelor of Architecture and participated in study abroad in Florence, an area rich in architectural treasures and history. We sat down with Kate to get some insight into her professional journey, including inspirations, design principles and more.
Q: What inspired you to become an architect?
K: When I was in high school, my parents decided to renovate/expand our house and they hired the local architect Robert Farley who had originally designed the houseback in the 90s. I got to sit in all the meetings with him and my parents when they walked through the plans and made design decisions. As someone who was obsessed with The Sims at the time, I couldn’t get enough of it. I ended up interning with him after my first semester of school and the rest is history.
Q: If you could give advice to a young designer what would you say?
K: Never undervalue yourself. I think designers (and creatives in general) tend to sell themselves short. Your ideas are extremely valuable no matter how much experience you have, and it’s important to never be afraid to speak up in a room where you might feel the least qualified.
Q: What inspires you and pushes you forward in your design process?
K: I like to think that we improve the lives of our clients in more ways than one. Of course we try to solve programmatic issues in aesthetically pleasing ways, but we also create healthier spaces for people to spend a lot of time in, and that is just as important.
Q: Do you have any guiding design principles in your process?
K: The planet comes first. In addition to all the other factors that come into play while designing, I enjoy using sustainability as a design tool rather than a ‘checklist’. It is a lot easier to start with a net zero building and work back from that, than to start with the equivalent of a 2005 Hummer and make it ‘green’.
“The planet comes first. In addition to all the other factors that come into play while designing, I enjoy using sustainability as a design tool rather than a ‘checklist’.”
Q: Do you have a favorite city to visit for architecture?
K: I studied abroad in Florence for a semester in college, and I can’t put into words how valuable that time was for me. During my time there I had the privilege of visiting almost every major Italian city and town that had even the slightest bit of architectural significance, and it was life changing. Rome was particularly memorable from an urban design standpoint – specifically how the streets, buildings, and piazzas all work together to curate an experience that was planned thousands of years ago. I haven’t been back since 2016, but Rome is truly the crème de la crème of architecture for me.
Q: Do you have a favorite building?
K: Oh gosh – how do you choose?! Chiesa di San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane in Rome is my favorite building because it is both so unassuming and unusual, but if you ask me tomorrow I might have a different answer. The awkward site of the church forced Francesco Borromini to do a lot of unconventional things which is what I like so much. I had the opportunity to sit and sketch the building for one of my classes which really helped me understand the unusual geometry.
Stay tuned for next month’s Staff Spotlight to hear from another Finegold Alexander colleague!