John Ryan, AIA,  First Vice President
Design Group


Why I belong to AIA:I love architecture. I cherish the discourse we share on the places that shape our lives and how we in turn work to create new spaces. Together, as the AIA, we offer so much to the community at so many levels. It’s thrilling to share in this work.

Best way to overcome a creative block: Take a walk. And, make time to do nothing. Un-structured time often provides the best opportunity for free thinking, and usually finding the best solution to a problem.

Favorite Pittsburgh space: Schenley Plaza – I love the monumentality of the space. The civic and institutional buildings surrounding this plaza give it a scale that can feel both inspiring, as well as intimate and welcoming.

Favorite drink: Guinness. It’s good for you.


Lisa Carver, AIA, Secretary
Perfido Weiskopf Wagstaff Goettel


Best way to overcome a creative block: Write a list. Often times, there are too many things floating around in my head to be creative. Once I purge those things to paper, I’m free to really think.

Favorite Pittsburgh space: The rotunda and concourse of the Pennsylvanian.

Favorite drink: Margarita – lime, on the rocks. Never frozen.


Dina Snider, AIA, Immediate Past President

Most significant lesson learned: Communication is essential to succeeding at your goals, whether the goal is to create a significant piece of architecture or negotiate with your child. This is a skill that is learned through experience. If only they could teach it to us in school, we could get a head start on things as we enter the professional world. Listen, ask questions, listen and follow through.

Time is valuable, why AIA? The AIA is here to support what we do in our practice of architecture. It is essential to our profession to give back.

Favorite Pittsburgh place: Fineview Overlook and Market Square.

Summer reading list: Born to Run and The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses.

Sean Sheffler, AIA, Second Vice President
LGA Partners

Best way to overcome a creative block: By forcing myself to step away from the problem and focusing on something else. The answer usually comes to me when I’m not actively thinking about it.

Time is valuable, why AIA? I truly believe that we can accomplish more by working together than we can individually.

Favorite Pittsburgh space: The atrium at the center of the Union Trust Building. That view will never get old.

Most significant lesson learned: Being perfect doesn’t always mean you’ll be right. Being right doesn’t always mean you have to be perfect.

Favorite food: I will eat almost anything. Except bananas. I hate bananas!

Summer reading list: You’ve got to be kidding me.

Mantra: “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.”


Catherine Wick, AIA, Treasurer

Time is valuable, why AIA? We can accomplish so much more for the profession and for our individual development if we work together.

Best way to overcome a creative block: Flip through magazines or a design website. When all else fails, a walk outside does the trick!

Favorite Pittsburgh Space: The Fred Rogers Memorial on the North Shore. It’s a wonderful place to watch the sunrise, or sunset, and enjoy beautiful views of Downtown.

Most significant lesson learned: Know your audience. It’s not enough to simply have a good idea; you have to be able to communicate it appropriately to your client, coworkers, and community.


Jason Andrews, Assoc. AIA
Rothschild Doyno Collaborative

Most significant lesson learned: Every end is a beginning.

Best way to overcome a creative block: Extended coffee break

Time is valuable, why AIA: To help shape the future of architecture in Pittsburgh

Favorite Pittsburgh space: Polish Hill city steps

Favorite food: Tacos al Pastor

Favorite drink: Iron City Beer

Summer reading list: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Mantra: There is a solution to every problem.


Quintin Kittle, AIA

Best way to overcome a creative block: Take a nap.

Time is valuable, why AIA? To promote/inform the value of an Architect’s service.

Favorite Pittsburgh space: Glass enclosed stairs at the Scaife Gallery.

Summer reading list: New York Times and Washington Post (daily to get caught up)

Mantra: It’s all the same (one word)


Dario McPhee, AIA
Indovina Associates Architects

Most significant lesson learned: Jack of all trades is a master of none but oftentimes better than a master of one. Not to downplay specialists, because those persons are important also. However, the more years I’ve put in, the more I’ve been put in positions where I’ve had to understand a little bit about everything.

Best way to overcome a creative block: Go to sleep, think while doing so, wake up, try again.

Favorite food: Peas soup and dumpling! Growing up in the Bahamas, this dish was a big part of my diet. Peas soup is a tomato based soup comprised of meat, a bit of vegetables and dumplings. Once I moved abroad, my appreciation for the dish grew even more.

Favorite drink: Gentleman Jack…..because who doesn’t love a smooth whiskey on the rocks?!


Emily Pierson-Brown, AIA
Perkins Eastman

Best way to overcome a creative block: Swimming. It is so meditative and completely different from any other experience I typically have in a day. There is something so eternal and healing about being in the water.

Time is valuable, why AIA? Architects are so valuable and elemental to society, and yet we are too often isolated from those only one or two steps removed from the process. We need strong advocates outside of our profession to communicate our value and inside the profession to strengthen and diversify who we are and how we work.

Favorite Pittsburgh space: My current favorite place, recently discovered, is the Pittsburgh Botanical Gardens in Settler’s Cabin Park. It’s a wonderful marriage of landscape and architecture with playful elements for kids of all ages. Perfect in any season, any type of weather.

Favorite food: I will forever lament that I will never again be able to enjoy the pizza from Dinette. It was a special place and a unique culinary experience in Pittsburgh. [sigh]

Favorite drink: Ketel One martini with olives (blue cheese olives a bonus)

Mantra: Follow your heart.

R. Joseph Chaffin, AIA
Michael Baker International


Best way to overcome a creative block: Just walk away… Physical separation typically works best, with a personal preference for flat-water kayaking.

Favorite Pittsburgh space: Phipps Conservatory, specifically the Japanese Courtyard Garden that evokes peaceful “found space” shaped by the metal and glass building forms.

Favorite drink: Kentucky Bourbon. As a senior at the University of Cincinnati, a seminar course was comprised of regional field trips to study Architecture examples in context. After a morning of Lexington area horse stables, a group of us happened upon a road sign for a “Kentucky Bourbon Trail,” we headed towards Frankfort and never looked back.

Summer reading list: “Empires of Light: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse; and the Race to Electrify the World” by Jill Jonnes; “Meet You in Hell: Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick; and the Bitter Partnership That Changed America” by Les Standiford; and “The Whiskey Rebels” by David Liss.


Amanda Markovic, AIA
GBBN Architects


Time is valuable, why AIA? As architects, we know that the built environment impacts so many aspects of our wellbeing such as equity, inclusion and climate change. Involvement allows me to contribute my voice to something that has a positive impact on our community.

Favorite Pittsburgh space: Carnegie Museum of Art.

Mantra: Breathe.

Best way to overcome a creative block: Walk away, go for a run, get a milkshake and get a good night’s sleep.

Favorite food: Popcorn.

Most significant lesson learned: Ask the right questions.


Christine Mondor, FAIA

Most significant lesson learned:The race is really the prize. We all have a fundamental need to shape our built environment and we architects are uniquely prepared to lead those efforts. I recognize that the built environment influences what people do, how they feel, and what they believe, and we need to be deliberate about how we work, knowing that the process can be equally transformative to an organization or community. The race is really the prize.

Best way to overcome a creative block: Eat chocolate and read a book about someone who inspires me. I love NOMA chef Rene Redzepi’s book, A Work in Progress, where he chronicles how he and his team dream up novel dishes that challenge people’s expectations. I love that he is honest about the frustrations and the dishes that didn’t work out. Also love how he makes otherwise unappealing ingredients desirable!

Time is valuable, why AIA? There is an energy on the board that I appreciate. We architects are needed now more than ever and I enjoy being around folks who are equally inspired by this moment in time.

Favorite Pittsburgh space: Market Square is an amazing public space. This is the best place in the city to see such a rich layering of the old and the new…vernacular buildings and signature buildings…the intimate scale and the monumental scale. When people shape the space with festivals and furniture and farmer’s markets, it is never the same place twice.

Favorite food: Anything meal I am eating with my grown son and daughter…best food ever. Usually Mexican or Vietnamese.

Favorite drink: A morning cappuccino at a coffee shop. No matter how fancy my coffee equipment, a cuppa at a local coffee shop is amazing because I did not have to make it.

Summer reading list: I have a serious list…Reciprocal Landscapes: Stories of Materials Movement and Breathe: Investigations into our Tangled Futures, etc., but my summer reading guilty pleasure is any Clive Cussler historic adventure mystery. They are enjoyably predictable and the hero is always confident about the right thing to do. What an escape from reality!

Bob Shelton, AIA
Shelton Design/Build

Most significant lesson learned: A team of people that can work with mutual respect for each other’s talent creates a far stronger outcome than any one individual can provide.

Time is valuable, why AIA? Our profession is diverse, talented, and highly impactful. Anything that can strengthen the profession and in turn the community that surrounds it is something worth investing time into.

Favorite Pittsburgh space: Rotunda / Lobby of the Pennsylvanian. Not only does it represent so much of the city in a former time, it was also the location of my first job in the profession. I’ll always have memories of walking through that space.

Favorite drink: Old Fashioned, Bulleit.

Mantra: “It is not a problem; it is an opportunity for a creative solution.”


Michelle Fanzo, Executive Director
AIA Pittsburgh

Best way to overcome a creative block: Get out of your head. Stop trying to make your brain do something and instead move your body. Yoga, cross-country skiing or kayaking tend to work for me. Another way is to cut myself off from all distractions and let my thinking be less cluttered and more expansive for a number of hours – like when walking in the woods or on a long-haul flight.

Most significant lesson learned: a. Be ready for what comes up. b. Work with it. c. Be ready to let it go.

Favorite food: Oysters (followed by ice cream)

Summer reading list: Quiet: The Power of Introverts by Susan Cain (fascinating), Why Nations Fail by Acemoglu and Robinson, United by Corey Booker, The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell.

Mantra? “Less is more!”


Jordan Luther, AIAS President,
Carnegie Mellon University



Michael J. Cremonese, Esq.
Burke Cromer & Cremonese


Best way to overcome a creative block: Swimming.

Favorite Pittsburgh space: PNC Park.

Most Significant lesson learned: Be Confident. Be persistent.

Mantra: Every day is the best day!


Omar Khan, Professor and Head
School of Architecture, Carnegie Mellon University

Best way to overcome a creative block: Walk in the forest or a hot shower, preferably in that sequence if it’s a serious block. Doodling can assist.

Summer reading list: Novels by Susan Sontag. Just was reading some of her essays in Under the Sign of Saturn and was moved by her intellect and writing.

Most significant lesson learned: Your experiences don’t necessarily translate to others, never assume your truths are universal.

Favorite food: Chicken Curry

Favorite drink: Tea- hot and with milk.