In our “Behind the Build” interview series, we’ve been speaking to many contractors and those executing the physical construction of a project. This week, we go behind the design of a project and speak to Architect for Shive-Hattery, Andrea Aggertt. Based in Bloomington, Illinois, Andrea has over 13 years of experience in designing for the built environment. Below, she shares more about her first experiences on the job and a project she holds near and dear to her heart.
What first got you into construction?
During college, I decided to pursue a degree in Architecture. This has led me to lots of experience on construction jobsites. While I don’t actually swing a hammer, I am there to assist with questions and observe the activity.
Why do you continue to design today?
The process of taking a clients vision, turning it into documents and then watching it being built is the most rewarding experience.
To know that you have an impact on those that use the space is an awesome feeling.
Do you have any stories from your first experiences on the job?
Yes! Within the first year of being on the job, I was climbing a 15 degree ships ladder, 19 feet tall. When I was just a few steps from the top, my shoe fell off. A general contractor below me had to retrieve the shoe and bring it to me. I almost felt like Cinderella–but instead of a ball gown, I was wearing safety yellow and a hard hat. Attire far from a princess!
What do you love most about the industry?
I love to see people experience the built environment. I enjoy seeing the good and the bad. If you witness someone struggling with something that was built, it’s a good lesson to learn how to correct things in the future.
As always, we as designers want to make a lasting impact on those that use the built environment.
Which project are you most proud of and why?
While not glamorous, I am proud of our local Salvation Army Homeless Shelter. Knowing that I helped to create a place for people to find comfort in a time of despair, warmth amidst a cold winter and a good warm meal was satisfying. I hoped by volunteering some of my time to the shelter there are people who have been able to turn their life around because of the programs and services SA offers.
What do you spend the most time doing at work?
I spend a lot of time on the phone and typing and responding to emails.
What’s the most challenging part of your job?
I would say the most frustrating part is that contractors use drawings as guidelines and sometimes deviate from the original design intent. This is frustrating because something the little details are important to the overall success of a project.
How has technology changed the way you work in construction?
I no longer have to carry a large roll of drawings with me which is a major benefit.
How do you benefit the most from PlanGrid?
With PlanGrid, it’s so quick and easy to find information that was previously issued, make markups, notes, associate photos and most importantly keep organized during stressful times.
I get the most use out of the markup tool on plans in the app. This feature allows me to convey ideas to my client on an iPad at the jobsite. No pen and paper needed.
Using PlanGrid has helped me explain complex ideas without having to draw with my fingers in the air.
Any recommendations you want to share with the next generation of builders?
Be daring, be bold, but stay within budget!