What architect/artist/designer inspires you and why?
While by no means is he my favorite architect, I will say that Bjarke Ingels was a big factor in me deciding to pursue architecture. I was 21 years old recovering from brain surgery, burnt out on graphic design and traveling with a small group of designers in Denmark. A lot of the excursions were focused on graphic design and advertising—visiting ad agencies and type foundries or doing a sign painting workshop. Eventually, we had a day of architecture tours and went to visit The 8 House, VM House and Mountain Dwelling. I had always been interested in architecture, so I was familiar with these buildings from the 5-pound Phaidon book that sat on my coffee table, but seeing them in person gave me a new perspective. I started thinking, “OK, I’m either going to get my masters in graphic design so I can have teaching to fall back on, or I’m going to make a big change and go for architecture because that’s what I’ve been interested in my whole life but never pursued it.”

When I got back to school, things shifted as my dad had passed away the previous year. I considered switching to construction management and getting my contractor’s license to be of assistance to our commercial landscaping company I had worked for and worn many hats at over the years. The construction management department at Chico State heard my plan and let me pick and choose classes to supplement my knowledge. After taking a SketchUp class though and designing buildings when the professor wanted boxes, I was sold and on my way to make the switch.

What I appreciate about Bjarke is that he designs from the inside out and for the people that will reside in his spaces. He is given setbacks and doesn’t let them stifle or diminish the final design but instead uses them to his advantage to create something completely out of the box. I believe that the solution always lies in the problem and that problems are not always problems if you can just dig a little deeper.

What is your favorite travel destination?
My favorite travel destination is a little place called Jackson Meadows. It’s about 40 miles north of Truckee, California and sits at the base of English Meadow and the Sierra Buttes (which my middle name is after). The property on the hill above the reservoir has been in my family since my grandpa bought it with his friend while attending UNR. My mom and her cousins whose property is in a beautiful meadow spent every Fourth of July here since they were born, and the tradition carries on today. The year I missed was the year I was born because my birthday is July 5th. I absolutely love spending my birthday up there every year and celebrating one of my favorite holidays. My favorite part about Jackson Meadows is that there is no cell reception and no electricity. We camp in tents, cook on the campfire, wash our hair in the lake, paddle board, kayak, inner tube, water ski and play volleyball in the meadow. It is truly an escape from reality that I welcome every year. Some of my fondest memories are here and will continue for my life.