Nicole Graycar, AIA

Meet the 2016 YAF Chair

By Posted on March 29, 2016

GraycarName: Nicole Graycar, AIA
Firm: Carnegie Mellon University Campus Design and Facility Development
Years in practice: 6
Education: BArch, Carnegie Mellon University
Your first job: Babysitting. But my first proper job was the Drive-Thru at McDonald’s; on 49 cent cheeseburger days it was pretty intense.
Project you’re proudest of:  Materials Science & Engineering at Carnegie Mellon. It was the first professional project I ever got to see from start to finish. A little bit of me is still there.
Building you’d like to tear down: None – I’d prefer to repurpose it. No need to waste what is already there.
What’s the best part of your job? Being able to literally put my money where my mouth is. An owner has a power that an architect will never have.
What would you change about your job?  I wish I could still put on my headphones and draw for a bit.
Favorite building: La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona by Gaudi. I first saw it at 16 and was mesmerized that it was unfinished – now that is dedication.
Favorite indoor space: Probably my church. I’m Orthodox so the design and iconography is pretty impressive.
Favorite city: New Orleans.
Architect you’d like to have a drink with: Gaudi – I suspect he would have the whole tortured artist thing going on.
Someday I’d like to: Brew my own beer.
I want to be remembered for: Being kind. And a little feisty.
People would be surprised to know that: I went to boarding school in Great Britain on a full scholarship at the age of 16. Our main campus building was a 12th century castle. Falling in love with it made me want to be an architect. And it was awesome when I worked with visiting school groups and they thought it was Hogwarts.
The secret to my success: Being able to read people and earn their trust. At a certain point it has nothing to do with what you know, but how you make people feel.
If you hadn’t become an architect, what would you have been? A pediatrician. I’m a sucker for little kids.
Favorite Kennywood ride: The Kangaroo, and I’ve taught my nieces to think the same.
The one thing you wish they’d teach you in school: How to balance a budget.
Advice to young architects:  It’s wonderful to try to get opportunities from within your firm, but opportunities given to you by happy clients can be career-changing.
I belong to the AIA because: The amazing young women in YAF.
Architectural quote to practice by: God is in the details – which translates into a quote I live by – Love is in the details.

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