Challenge Seekers: Guiding the Next Generation

  • 06.05.24|3 min. read

Leading the next generation of design professionals is crucial to our pursuit of design excellence. Ballinger employees provide guidance to future architects, engineers, and interior designers by serving on competition and awards juries, giving lectures, and teaching courses. Ballinger’s flexible work schedule policies are as carefully designed as our buildings, enabling us to meet client deadlines while providing opportunities for employees to teach and attend classes. Students at Kansas State, Texas A&M, Auburn, Temple University, among many others, have benefited from Ballinger’s commitment to teaching the next generation. In this second installment of the Challenge Seekers series, we are spotlighting director of healthcare planning  Fernanda Pires, EDAC, Lean Greenbelt and project architect Caitlin Kline, RA, two Ballinger employees teaching college-level courses that equip young designers with the skills they need to succeed as practitioners.

This winter, Fernanda Pires was invited to join Drexel University’s MS Interior Architecture & Design Program as an adjunct professor for a studio course with emphasis on programmatic and environmental behavior. The Studio was developed to help students experience the development of a project from beginning to end, including concept, pre-design research, programming, space planning and presentation. As one of three instructors in the course, Fernanda brought her Healthcare and Evidence-based Design background to guide students through the design of a Pediatric Community Health Clinic.  “It was incredible to see the students engaging in direct observation, interviews, research, demographic analysis, programming, adjacency mapping, journey mapping, floor planning, preliminary code analysis, FGI analysis – basically all the steps we go through in a typical Healthcare Project – but in just 3 months,” said Fernanda, “It was a lot of work, but it was worth it.”

Fernanda enjoyed building relationships with students and watching them grow throughout the program. “Even though the students had the same project and program, each solution was unique based on their developed parti, goals and objectives,” she said, “It was a great experience! Plus, it’s fun and I get to meet new people.”

A tight-knit relationship with former mentors and a desire to give back her alma mater led project architect Caitlin Kline to her current role at Drexel University. Her class, Architectural Representation, teaches first year students the fundamentals of how to represent elements of a plan, hand sketching, 3D drafting, and 3D modeling. “The nature of architecture as a profession means that you are teaching someone something all the time, whether it’s interns or just younger staff. Honestly, it felt great to formalize it,” said Caitlin.

Teaching the same class she took when she was an undergraduate has been a full-circle moment. She cherishes the opportunity to work with first year students who are just getting their feet wet. “They’re starting to get an understanding of what the business is all about,” said Caitlin, “It’s been a lot of fun helping them think critically about why they’re doing something or how they’re showing something. It really brings you back.”

When asked what advice she would give to other working design professionals considering teaching, Fernanda emphasized the importance of patience. “Meet the students where they are in their learning journey.  Take one step at a time to bring them to the end of term at a similar level with patience, empathy, and respect.” Caitlin advised peers not to let lack of official experience keep them from pursuing a teaching position, “The architecture community, especially in Philadelphia, is quite small, and reaching out to any sort of connection could lead you to the right position.”