Celeste Allen Novak, AIA

Learn more about this sustainability-minded juror

By Posted on September 28, 2012

Name: Celeste Allen Novak, AIA, LEED AP
Firm:  Celeste Allen Novak Architect
Family:  Husband, 2 sons, 2 grandchildren
Years in practice: 22 (but…. daughter of an architect so really all of my life.)
Education:  M.Arch, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 1984; CEW Scholar; Bachelor of Architecture, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 1982; Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts, College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota 1973; Georgetown University – AIA Leadership certificate program
Your first job: As an architect – with Yamasaki and Associates. Also, my very first job was running blueprints (remember those) for my father, the architect. I can still smell the ammonia.
Project you’re proudest of: Writings for McGraw-Hill, primarily on rainwater harvesting, Voices for Earth Justice sustainability neighborhood house, and teaching at LTU – service learning projects for the City of Detroit.
Most embarrassing moment: Getting AIA Michigan’s Gold Medal – still trying to live up to this honor.
Building you’d like to tear down: The Detroit Rennaissance Center.
What’s the best part of your job? Working at home in my pajamas.
What would you change about your job? More money/grants to do more work for nonprofits involved with social justice.
What have you always wanted to tell your clients? Why don’t you want me to design a building that looks modern?
Advice to young architects:  Get your license, join AIA and remember that architecture is as much an addiction as a profession. Remember to maintain a balance in your life between your family and your passions. Design with the environment as one of your main clients.
The one thing you wish they’d teach you in school: Integrated practice and alternative practices within the profession. Systems integration and best practices for green buildings.
Favorite building:  Kimball Art Museum
Favorite outdoor space:  Paley Park
Favorite indoor space: East Wing, National Gallery of Art
Favorite city: Chicago
Favorite architecture book: The Old Way of Seeing, Hale;  Design with Climate, Olgyay; Cradle to Cradle, McDonough….. I could go on….
Best gift to give an architect: Airline tickets
Wish list for downtown Pgh: Sustainability overlays to enhance green space, water features, and art.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where? Mackinac Island
Someday I’d like to: Learn how to play the piano.
People would be surprised to know that: I can tomatoes from my garden every year.
Building you’d like to renovate into something else and why? Every strip shopping mall to include housing and green space. There is one in Ann Arbor across from a great city park that would make a perfect location for seniors. We need more walkable communities.
Something you’d like to learn how to build with your own hands: An electric car. I want to convert my son’s 77 MGB so I can drive it.
What’s on your iPod/Pandora/Spotify? Classical music – the Isaac Stern channel.
I belong to the AIA because: This professional network allows me continued access to ideas, services and technological advances in architecture. AIA also created opportunities for me to serve communities through the SDAT program. AIA has allowed me to continue my education beyond the university setting, learning as an adult new ways to practice. AIA has helped me find mentors and allowed me to mentor as a woman in this profession. From design retreats to international exchanges, the AIA is an organization that supports ideas, art, research, theory, and practice in a very cool way.

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