Dossier: Cassandra Osterman, AIA

Introducing the 2021 AIA YAF Chair!

By Posted on February 4, 2021

Name: Cassandra Osterman, AIA, NCARB

Firm: Perfido Weiskopf Wagstaff Goettel

Family:My husband, my parents, my brother

Years in practice: About 5

Education: MA Architecture and Historic Urban Environments – The Bartlett School at University College London 2018; BArch – SoArch at Carnegie Mellon University 2014

Your first job: My first full-time architecture job (after graduation) was with Springboard Design. My experience at Springboard was foundational to establishing how I want to practice architecture and grow within my profession. You learn so much in the first couple years out of school – and I have to thank Paul Rosenblatt and Bill Szustak for being excellent mentors to me during this period.

Project you’re proudest of: My master’s thesis project on Autonomous Mobility in the Golden Triangle. I did a 1-year masters programme in the UK, and the last 3-4 months was spent on a focused project of our own choosing. Many of these projects fell somewhere between architectural history and research, architecture studio, and urban design studio. When my project felt unwieldy and overwhelming, my professor Hannah Cortlett (founder of HNNA and ASSEMBLAGE) gave some great advice. She helped me narrow my focus, ultimately allowing me to discover a completely different and far more impactful design conclusion than I had expected to find at the beginning of the thesis inquiry.

Favorite tool (can be digital, drafting, physical,…): A snapshot (screengrab) and a digital highlighter – a huge part of the way I communicate!

Favorite building: San Telmo Museum in San Sebastián, Spain

Favorite outdoor space: The Highline – I know it’s cliche, but I have loved walking through this park over the years, and watching it grow phase by phase.

Best gift to give an architect: An ergonomic mouse and blue-light filtering glasses.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where? In a cabin in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

What’s on your iPod/Pandora/Spotify? Post Modern Jukebox, Pomplamoose, or Two Door Cinema Club Radio.

The secret to my success: I have learned so much from my mentors, but I have learned even more from my colleagues – specifically, people I had the opportunity to know through the Young Architects Forum. Having open and transparent conversations with people outside my own professional circle – about office practices, norms, industry trends, etc. – has been so empowering. It’s given me a better understanding of how to thrive in our regional network.

Advice to young architects: Know your limits, and recognize that taking time to refuel, relax, and re-energize is just as important as the work itself. Without balance, success is short lived.

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