As a part of an ongoing series, the following is an interview to dig a little bit deeper and learn what makes our team tick, what fascinates us about the design industry, and what is most important to us right now.
Cat McGee is an intrepid world traveler, and having lived abroad in Rome and Tokyo, she brings her experiences to her work here at Arrowstreet. Cat is an architect and a newly appointed associate in the office, as well as a member of the BSA and the Women in Design Committee.
K: How long have you been at AST?
C: Since March 2014.
K: What projects are you currently working on?
C: I am working on CA for 650 Ocean Avenue in Revere, a residential building situated within the Waterfront Square Masterplan.
K: Where do you like to find your inspiration?
C: Travel! Vernacular architecture divulges the culture, climate, and design values of a place. Architectural strategies that have been successful over time can be adapted in a contemporary manner and used to enhance local architecture.
For example, through my personal travels, I was impressed by the adaptive reuse of colonial monasteries, churches, and palaces in Antigua, Guatemala. These structures were closed off to the street for privacy and feature peaceful courtyards within the exterior walls. From the outside, large gated openings hint at the vegetation and flowing water within, which eliminates the streetscape monotony of enclosed buildings. The public is now welcomed into these formerly restricted structures, since they have now been converted into hotels, restaurants, galleries, and shops.
K: As a design professional, what are you most passionate about?
C: Creating mixed use walkable communities. Amenities, jobs, and public transportation within walking distance from home allow people to be more productive, reduce stress, increase community ties, and can be better for the environment. Urban design and architecture must work together to create viable mixed use communities.
K: Have you recently read/seen any interesting books/articles/exhibits that have really spoken to you?
C: The Museum of Fine Arts recently had an exhibit on Hokusai, a celebrated Japanese artist. The exhibit shows his woodblock print series, ‘Thirty Six Views of Mount Fuji,’ which depicts the mountain from numerous vistas, at various times of the day, and during all seasons. The prints were a good reminder that an architect must visualize and design in multi-dimensions. A structure will be viewed from the exterior by passersby and from within by end users; spaces should be designed keeping all of these outlooks and paths of travel in mind.
K: What is the most important thing to you for furthering your career?
C: Being both creative and practical. In order to be a good architect, you must master both. My goal is to be a well-rounded architect. I also strive to further my knowledge of all field aspects: design, new technologies and materials, construction, project budgets, and staffing.