Architecture through the Ages Spotlight: Stephen Parker

In our latest issue of Engineered Wood magazine, we spoke to four architects with varying levels of experience to learn how different generations approach industry topics and trends, such as technology, sustainability and the future of the architectural industry.

We are continuing our series here on the blog to better understand the differences (and similarities) across generational divides in the architecture industry.

Our next spotlight features Stephen Parker, an architect and planner at SmithGroupJJR in Washington D.C. A native of coastal South Carolina, Stephen has worked with firms large and small from AECOM to local municipalities since age 15. Stephen is a regular critic at local architecture schools in the DC area and is a long-time AIAS alum. A self-described leadership junkie and design advocate, Stephen has held local, state and national leadership roles within the AIA, NAAB and AIAS among other organizations. Most recently, he was awarded the AIA 2018 Young Architects Award, which honors those who have shown exceptional leadership and made significant contributions to the profession early in their careers.

How do you see technology evolving?

There's this tension between wanting to learn technology so as not be left behind and investing one’s time in a worthwhile endeavor. Whether it's parametric plug-ins, the latest rendering program or social media trend, I've learned to be judicious with my time so the investment is in line with my path forward. 

Where do you see the industry headed in the next decade?

Honestly, I hope the industry aspires for a more sustainable, resilient and equitable future for all. One where an aspiring designer can pay off their student debt through community design service, where an enterprising young architect can start a new firm and a small town or big city can build a better future for its citizens, one design at a time. 

How do you discover new materials?

I find inspiring materials and designs among my peers most often, either through social media or at conferences when we catch up. Once you're past the cool factor of a product, I'm interested in an innovative solution to a common (or not so common) problem.

The Architecture through the Ages series will continue next month on the Engineered Wood blog. Make sure to come back for our third installment with Jonathan Hampel, a licensed architect in Florida at A BOHEME Design, LLC.

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