Name: Amy P. Maceyko, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP
Firm: WTW Architects
Family: Husband, teen daughter, tween son + 3 cats
Years in practice: 20+
Education: BArch from Carnegie Mellon with a minor in drama, and a semester abroad in Valencia, Spain
What do you value about the Women+ in Design group? I’m not sure where to begin, there are so many ways that I’ve found value in the group. I feel like I’ve spent my career reaching out for female mentors, and later female peers and mentees, with somewhat limited success. There have been a number of outstanding male architects who have mentored me, but there was always a sense that I was trying to bridge a gap in my professional community.
Whether it was through the pre-pandemic happy hours or the zoom meetings for the Working Mothers Collective or the leadership meetings to brainstorm ways to engage members in these ever-changing times, I’ve amassed a network of design professionals that I can connect with who fill that gap. Peers with which to discuss challenges and accomplishments, conversations to inspire, and a pool of young professionals to help mentor. It gives me optimism for the rest of my career and the design professions in Pittsburgh.
Tell us about a woman or women who currently inspire you: Honestly, the leadership cohort of Women+ in Design. Their collective desire to facilitate change and progress on top of our often demanding careers impresses and motivates me.
Your first job: Babysitting. I did a lot of babysitting in middle and high school. It kept spending money in my pocket without worrying about conflicts with my schoolwork and other activities. I had a tendency to take on too much, so I could decline the jobs when I had a lot of homework or club commitments.
Project you’re proudest of: The New Memorial Student Union at the University of North Dakota. It feels cliché to list my most recent project, but as I have recently found my niche working on student unions, and this is the first one I’ve worked on from beginning to end, I know it will always hold a special place for me.
What’s the most annoying thing architects do? Use specific and technical architectural vernacular when talking to clients.
Favorite tool (can be digital, drafting, physical,…): I got myself a Rocketbook during the pandemic. My smaller desk at home was becoming overrun with post-it notes and piles of paper, and no immediate help to scan or transcribe my notes. (They were also frequently getting lost in the shuffle or stolen by cats!) I love that I can write everything down with pen on paper, but easily erase the notes as soon as the tasks are complete, or have my meeting minutes transcribed and saved digitally. It goes everywhere with me, and with my surface tablet, it is about as close as I’ll ever get to a paperless office!
Favorite building: The Alhambra in Granada, Spain
Favorite outdoor space: Central Park in New York City
What do you like to do when you’re not working? As a family, we watch superhero & Sci-fi movies, play board games, go on hikes & camping trips, and have family lego nights. While we watch those movies or while we’re sitting around the campfire, I love to knit and crochet.
What’s on your iPod/Pandora/Spotify? I have a playlist of songs from broadway musicals, as well as solo albums of broadway stars. Currently Sutton Foster and Billy Porter are in heavy rotation because I just read their autobiographies. I am a complete geek when it comes to broadway shows, and I’m thrilled to be sharing some of that love with my daughter.
The secret to my success: While I wouldn’t wish a layoff on anyone, the process of being downsized and then working two years in an allied field taught me a great deal about what motivates and fuels me as an architect. Understanding the work and opportunities that are aligned with my strengths and interests helped to position me for success.
Advice to women pursuing leadership roles in architecture:
1. Never stop learning and exploring. The leadership role you think you want when you are 5 years out of school may evolve into something else by the time you are 10-15 years further in your career. Pay attention to what makes you happy and fuels work that you feel passionate about, and what parts of the job don’t make you heart sing. Then focus on a leadership role that plays to your strengths.
2. Work/Life Balance is a myth. That doesn’t mean that you can’t be a working mother or a leader in your firm or whatever else you want to do or be. You will be better served by thinking about trying to find work/life rhythm. And understand that a priority during one phase of your life doesn’t mean that it will be a priority forever. Look for a firm who values all that you offer – your insights, your abilities, your whole personhood – and not just how many hours you put down on your timesheet.
3. If an opportunity is scary, it is probably an opportunity for growth.
Architectural quote to practice by: “If you weren’t an optimist, it would be impossible to be an architect.” – Sir Norman Foster
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