Below is a special guest entry written by Ms. Dana Perzynski who graduated with the Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the University of Maryland. — Thanks, Dana!
Had the pleasure of working with Dana as an architecture student during her time at the University of Maryland. She is pictured in the center of the image below.
I have wanted to be an architect since before I even knew how to say the word. Growing up, one of our family weekend activities was touring model homes in new neighborhoods cropping up in the area. I would collect the builder packets and stare at the floor plans for hours. Then I moved on to reading Architectural Digest while still in elementary school and sketching my own plans.
I did all the right steps to achieve my goal of becoming an architect: I took architectural drafting class in high school, found ways to shadow architects, attended ‘Discovering Architecture’ summer college level class as a high school student, and visited architectural landmarks. [Note: Discovering Architecture is one of our 150 Architecture Summer Programs across the country]
When it came time to apply to college, I only applied to schools with NAAB accredited architecture programs. After starting at University of Maryland as a ‘direct admit’ to the School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, I formally applied to the undergraduate program, was admitted, and continued my education to achieve my goal of becoming an architect, happily graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Architecture.
Except, I’m not an Architect!
When I attended the University of Maryland, the undergraduate curriculum in architecture studio was heavily focused on planning scale projects. I found it incredibly interesting. And I was good at it. But what did it mean to be a Planner? Was I ready to commit to a new path and ditch my lifelong goal of becoming an architect? Did I want to stay the course and attend graduate school to continue my architectural education?
I decided I needed to go into the workforce to determine if I wanted to pursue this relatively unknown world of planning or become a traditional architect. The next decision was one of the best decisions of my life: I accepted a position as an intern in the planning studio at Ayers Saint Gross, a nationally recognized architecture and planning firm headquartered in Baltimore, MD (now a multi-disciplinary design firm) with a focus on higher education and other mission-driven clients.
The best gift for me was spending the early part of my career exposed to both architecture and planning in a professional setting.
The best gift for me was spending the early part of my career exposed to both architecture and planning in a professional setting. Early on, it became very clear that planning was the right place for me. As a design-based planner, I work alongside landscape architects, architects, urban designers, and policy-based planners to engage a wide range of stakeholders to create a long-term planning vision for their campuses that help to inform short-term decision-making. Along the way I studied for and passed the AICP exam (American Institute for Certified Planners).
Sixteen years later, I am now a principal and lead the firm’s health sciences planning practice. I help clients solve complex problems and advance our firm’s core focus areas of design, data, carbon, and JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion). No, I didn’t achieve my childhood goal of becoming an Architect. And that’s ok. Because there are many career paths you can take with an architecture degree, and I found the right one for me.
I am a Planner!
Dana Perzynski is a principal and leads the firm’s health sciences planning practice. She has more than 14 years of experience at Ayers Saint Gross, during which she has developed master plans for a wide cross-section of clients including Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins, and the Medical University of South Carolina. Health sciences campuses and academic medical centers are complex places with many competing needs, and Dana’s focus has been on engaging stakeholders, analyzing space metrics, designing spaces for collaboration, and focusing on the user experience. She is actively involved outside the firm as a member of the Baltimore City Partnership Board, Women United Executive Council, and the Baltimore Health Department’s Business Advisory Group. Source: https://ayerssaintgross.com/firm/people/