Name: Kathleen Bost
Job / Title: Architect Principal / Owner
Company: Kathleen Bost Architecture + Design
Industry: Architecture, residential and commercial
Q: From your perspective, what are the most important trends that will take place in your industry in the next 10 years?
Kathleen: People now expect technology to be not only useful, but beautiful as well and this reaches into all corners of their life. There is an increased demand for the seamless, lovely and unobtrusive integration of technology in the home such as automated temperature control, security and lighting.
While the home used to be seen as an actual and symbolic shelter from the outside, people increasingly want to live in union with nature rather than sheltered from it. There has been an increased desire to integrate the inside and outside through doors that create a wall of glass that completely opens and floor to ceiling windows that bring the outdoors in. This is especially true in the Bay Area where the climate is so temperate that it makes sense to create spaces that blur the line between inside and out.
Long gone are the days when the Kitchen was a “back-of-the-house” room meant to be out of sight. The Kitchen takes center stage in many home environments and because it is so much a part of the everyday living environment, there has been an increased focus on solutions that allow the work of the Kitchen to occur without creating a cluttered, chaotic feel. Solutions include appliance garages to keep mixers and coffee makers out of sight, yet immediately accessible, and Butler’s Pantry areas for intense storage needs.
From an interior design perspective, there has been an increased popularity of gold and copper hardware and plumbing fixtures and overall a “warming up” the home palette, moving away from the colder modernism of the past.
The home office has become a very important element for the house as it offers more options for a work/life balance.
Q: What challenges have you faced in your daily job duties? Explain.
Kathleen: I have a small architecture firm and like many small companies, we all need to be willing to pitch in on any and all tasks each day to get it all done. This can lead to a serious inability to focus as you are constantly being pulled in different directions at once – from IT to administrative duties to technical issues to client management. I have learned to take time before I even get to the office to outline all the priority items that I need to get done in that day as well as leave some “flex” time for clients and contractors who have unexpected questions or issues that need immediate attention. If that flex time is not used, it becomes bonus work flow time to work on some of my longer range projects like the furniture line I’ve always wanted to create!
Q: What is the challenge that you are most proud of overcoming? Explain.
Kathleen: Early on in my career, I was constantly funneled into a role that focused on interiors. This was incredibly frustrating and still is when I walk into a meeting/conference room and someone assumes that I’m the interior designer and one of the guys who works for me is the “architect”. It was a long struggle and fight to get the experience with structures and exterior architecture that I needed and wanted to be in the architect role. I admit that I was also enjoying my time working on interiors. Finally, when I got my way and was solely working on the exterior architecture, I found that I profoundly missed the interior design role. When I started my own firm, I made the decision that we would do both; we would be pope and king and do the entire building, from the foundation to the drapery. This allows us to create beautifully integrated buildings and spaces that fully respond to our client’s vision. From a project management perspective it also allows us to be more efficient than when those roles are filled by two different parties as we are always thinking ahead to what might be required in the preliminary architectural design to make the finishing touches come together such as adjusting the ceiling framing to allow for window shade pockets or dropping floor framing so that flooring finishes of differing thicknesses can be flush to one another, or laying out the furniture in a room at the get-go to confirm that it can be used the way the client desires. Combining these two typically separated roles has allowed us to offer a better product overall and I’m happy for the path that lead us here.
Q: What role has mentorship played in your career?
Kathleen: One of my first bosses became a great mentor for me. We never formalized or spoke about the fact that he was my mentor, but to this day, I occasionally ask myself how he would deal with a certain situation as part of my solution finding process. Part of what made him a great mentor was that he made it clear that he had great faith in me and was constantly throwing me into challenging situations. But, he would also clearly highlight when he thought I was headed toward a problem while never telling me exactly how to solve the issue. He was great at anticipating client’s needs and questions and I was constantly amazed at how he would predict outcomes months in advance. Architects and designers are not stereotypically “spreadsheet” people and usually make use of drawings and photos and renderings to get their ideas across, not numbers. But, occasionally, one comes across a client who just doesn’t communicate in this way and for them spreadsheets work better. When I worked for Gary, my mentor, we had such a client. I remember parading one spreadsheet after another into Gary’s office and placing it on his desk with great fanfare thinking that I had finally succinctly conveyed this particular client’s space planning needs in Excel rather than AutoCAD and was ready for my meeting. Gary would take one glance, look up at me with a raised eyebrow, smile, and ask a question me that would anticipate a client question and I would skulk out of his office and head back to the “drawing board”.
Q:What advice would you give to someone looking to grow in her career while making time for her family?
Kathleen:This is an extreme challenge and my best advice is to ignore all advice and magazine articles, etc. that just make it sound too easy. I don’t think it is possible to rise at 6:30am, have time for an invigorating workout, shower, do your hair put together a kick-butt outfit, get your 5 year old out of bed and get them dressed, make and eat a nutritious breakfast, pack everyone in the car and drop them where they need to be and get to the office by 8:30am ready to meet with people without leaving a trail of unmade beds, unwashed dishes, forgotten kid’s lunches and tire squealing rubber on the road in your wake. So, get some help – husband, life partner, nanny, or other family member, cut yourself some slack and let me know if you’ve figured out a way to get the workout into your day because I’m still trying to figure that one out.
Q:Tell us something about yourself that is a fun fact.
Kathleen:In college, I was an astrophysics major who really liked art before I became an architecture major. My best friend was a fine arts major at Parson’s School of Design. She came to visit me at college during my first year and I took her on a tour of the physics building. I remember her turning to me and saying “Do you realize that these are the people who you will be having dinner parties with later in life?” It was at that moment when it finally hit me that I better pick a profession that I really enjoyed because I was going to spend a lifetime doing it. (A side note is that my sister married a physicist so I did end up having dinner parties with physicists after all.)