Aria Group has been designing restaurants for over 34 years, but we recently experienced unique challenges while working on Amy’s Drive Thru in Roseville, California. Partnering with a client committed to the environment and social well-being enabled us the opportunity to design a restaurant with a Living Roof. Amy’s is the first Certified B Corporation fast-food restaurant, leading the charge in vegetarian/plant-based options. “Certified B Corporations are leaders in the global movement for an inclusive, equitable, and regenerative economy. Unlike other certifications for businesses, B Lab is unique in our ability to measure a company’s entire social and environmental impact.” – Bcorporation.net. This project strives to educate – showcasing its environmental and social concerns through its teamwork, commitment to climate concerns, and ultimately its design. The following is its story…
Progress photos of the living roof components
Designing a Restaurant with a Living Roof was made possible through collaboration with our client and many partners. Our team included: Amy’s Drive Thru, KDC Construction, Clarke and Reilly, Chestnut Company, MFSD+B, Henderson Engineering, Hart Gaugler & Associates, Kier + Wright, Camp & Camp Associates, Inc., and Symbios Ecotecture.
“The living roof at our Roseville Amy’s Drive Thru is not only beautiful – it also promotes a number of environmental benefits including reduced energy requirements, retention of stormwater on-site, habitat biodiversity and reduction of the heat island effect, just to name a few.” – Jason Dedmore, Director of Real Estate & Development at Amy’s Drive Thru, Inc.
A living roof offers many benefits to a building and the environment. The mass of the soil acts as a great insulator helping to regulate the buildings internal temperature. This allows for less heating or cooling and an overall lower energy bill. The return on investment varies per geographical region but Roseville offered a great opportunity for Amy’s.
Symbios Ecotecture installing the Living Roof.
The soil and plants absorb rainwater and hold it on site versus running off directly into the sewer system. Holding more rainwater onsite reduces strain on the sewer system leading to less flooding. This does create the need for a slightly larger structure to support the roof and more caution with waterproofing the building roof, but Aria worked with Amy’s to celebrate the resulting gabled structure by exposing it inside the dining room and celebrating the design on the interior.
Environmentally, the Living Roof also offers a reduction to the urban heat island effect. Higher temperatures in urban areas leads to higher cooling loads in buildings, increasing the carbon footprint, compounding the Climate Crisis.
Growing plants does take time — see below photos of the plants at restaurant opening and six months later. Plant selection is an important process that Symbios Ecotecture and Camp & Camp teamed up to provide the best options of native species to thrive. The selected plants also create a habitat for pollinators and birds, increasing biodiversity.
Left photo at restaurant opening by photographer Cesar Rubio. Right photo six month after opening by Symbios Ecotecture.
The architecture, with cues from agricultural structures, is simple in form, but form follows function in creating various dining opportunities and protecting patrons and employees from Roseville’s climate. The design team chose to have a gabled roof to showcase the Living Roof to patrons and the community, creating a green beacon for Amy’s Drive Thru. A living roof is very much a team effort, affecting not just design but our consulting engineers. By having conversations early and often the team was able to deliver a sustainable end result.
Partial living roof section by Aria Group
Aria Group will continue to innovate and lead by example in keeping social, economic, and environmental concerns top of mind. We are excited to collaborate on designs that continue to enrich our communities and the environment through our designs leading to a more harmonious future with our planet.
We are kicking off our 2023 series of Meet the Team with introducing you to Jade Heiler! Jade is an experienced architectural designer and has been with us since late 2021. She has been a great asset to the team working on projects with a world-renowned chef that is expanding in the US market, as well as working on multiple locations of The Capital Grille. Before working on hospitality projects here at Aria, Jade gained experience in a diverse range of projects covering municipal, educational, retail, and entertainment sectors. Jade takes pride in her work and enjoys the challenge of working through construction details to best support the design intent. Fun Fact: Jade studied Fashion Design and Retail in undergrad and worked as a merchandising manager before making the switch to Architecture and pursuing her master’s degree! Learn more about Jade Below!
Jade graduated with her Masters in Architecture from Kendall College of Art and Design.
How many places have you lived in your life and where did you grow up? I grew up in Matteson, IL, on the south side of Chicago. I went to Central Michigan University and moved to Grand Rapids, MI after that. I lived in Michigan for a total of 11 years. I just moved back to Chicago in 2021!
What neighborhood do you live in and what is your favorite neighborhood place to visit? I live in Uptown. During the summer, my favorite place is Foster Beach. It’s a tourist-free beach and only a couple blocks from my condo. During the winter, my living room is my favorite place to visit!
How many siblings do you have and are they anything like you? My sister Jasmine is a year older than me and she’s very cool, calm and collected. My brother Clyde III (or Tre as we call him) is 2 years younger than me and he’s also calm and quiet, and together we nerd out on video games and Star Wars. I’m the middle child and definitely the liveliest of the three. I keep everyone entertained.
Do you have any pets? I have a black cat named Reggie. His full name is Regulus Arcturus Black, for my Harry Potter fans out there. I also have an Australian Shepherd named Lando Calrissian, for my Star Wars fans out there.
Best travel story? I spent a month in Volterra, Italy during grad school for study abroad. We lived with another group from a Polish architecture school and made some great new friends. My favorite part was the karaoke party we had one night at our host restaurant. I did a duet with one of the students from Poland, to Déjà vu by Beyonce and Jay-Z. The restaurant owner called me Jay-Z for the rest of the trip.
Using her fashion design and modeling experience, Jade walks the runway to show off our team’s 2022 STITCH competition entry.
What did you want to be when you grew up and why? I always wanted to be a fashion designer and I did get a degree in fashion design. But the more I studied the retail and business side of things, the more I fell in love with it. When I transitioned into architecture, my thesis project was a design for a clothing store that functions like a real world version of Instagram influencing. My favorite part of retail and restaurant design is creating an experience through all of the little details.
Jade’s high school band walking in the Thanksgiving Day parade (left) and showing off her newest hobby, building Star Wars Lego sets.
What is the dorkiest thing about you and why? I collect Star Wars Lego sets. I don’t know how it started but I now have 27 of them. Putting them together is probably my favorite pastime and how I relieve stress. The only ones I don’t have yet are the ones that cost over $500, but I’m planning to complete my collection this year.
What is something most people don’t know about you? I played the clarinet in the Marian Catholic High School marching band. My sophomore year we were in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, and my senior year we were in the Rose Bowl parade.
Words you live by and why. “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” My dad drilled into me that I can do anything I put my mind to, that it’s better to try and fail than not try at all. That quote is my mantra. I’m not afraid to make big changes in my life and now I’m right where I want to be.
Check out other editions of Meet the Team on our Blog!A Cozy New Hideaway in Sister Bay!
Our design team hit the ground running on this one! An untimely change in project resources meant that our client was left without a designer and a fast-paced project timeline! Our design team jumped in and crafted an enlivened interior concept focusing on the area’s historic roots and the client’s vision of a high-end boutique experience.
This area in Sister Bay, WI is known for the beauty of its natural landscape and connection to an expansive shoreline. Long-time residents & visitors alike have come to deeply appreciate the weaving hiking paths, sprawling orchards, restaurant & bar corridors alongside the shopping & arts districts. All of which make it an incredible location for a stay at this year-round boutique hotel!
Door County is also home to an exquisite Scandinavian heritage, which became a main concept driver for the design of the DoRR Hotel. Our design process began with the concept of ‘hygge’ – a Danish term focusing on the idea of “coziness” or invoking the feeling of deep contentment & well-being. We did this through the lighter color palette and bringing in warm finishes and elements.
Beginning with entry into the lobby spaces, guests are greeted by a premier, on-site, guests service team stationed behind marble-look stone and rustic wood features. The atmosphere is equally homey and sophisticated – ensuring guests feel invited to gather around for a drink, snack, or even to play a board game at the various seating styles & arrangements. The furniture throughout the project was selected and designed to be the perfect blend of Scandinavian minimalism and mid-century modern. Rich and warm accent colors pocketed within an airy and natural palette.
The brighter, lightly finished, wood tones are contrasted by blackened metal accents and luxe plaster-work, both bringing forth deeper colorways. Soft seating is wrapped in distressed leathers, beige twills and deep, moody, blue and green tones. A fire-wood installation adds warms and definition, while drawing your eye up to the natural cedar beams above.
The DoRR Hotel houses 47 well-appointed guestrooms highlight the gorgeous views within light and airy spaces, allowing guests to relax and unwind in. All guest rooms feature white shiplap walls, herringbone flooring and custom white oak and leather furnishings. Eight of the guestrooms take the form of unique suite-style spaces featuring unique floor plans, bay-facing balcony views, high-end furnishings and thoughtful in-room amenities.
Guests of the suites are invited to cozy up alongside the linear electric fireplaces, watch the sunset on the outdoor terrace or unwind with cup of tea from the custom-crafted navy blue shaker-style kitchenette space.
Both the guestroom and lobby spaces share a design that is centered around the ideas crucial to the Danish concept of hygge. With furniture & materials that embody a sense of elevated comfort, warmth and conversation. The multifunctional lounge spaces throughout the lobby floors, alongside the unique suites and guestrooms, ensure that each stay provides a new experience!
General Contractor: Bayland Buildings Inc.
Photographer: Ballogg Photography
To read more about the DoRR Hotel project, check out our Case Study here!Meet the Team: Ndeye Fatou Daikhate Njie
Welcome to another addition of the Meet the Team! Fatou has been with us since June 2019 and has quickly made her mark on our team by being a REVIT expert and is one of our BIM Coordinators. As an Architectural Designer, Fatou has a lot of involvement with the Dave & Buster’s brand, working on multiple locations from Cary, NC to the newest projects in Texas & Pennsylvania. She also has been involved with Supercharged, the Hawthorne Casino project, and has even worked a bit with Cooper’s Hawk on one of their new locations. Prior to her time at Aria, she worked at a handful of other local architecture firms and attended the Illinois Institute of Technology for her degree in Architecture. Read on below to learn more about Fatou!
Where did you grow up? Senegal, known as the “Gateway to Africa” and located at the western-most point of the continent is served by multiple air and maritime travel routes. The country lies at an ecological boundary where semiarid grassland, oceanfront, and tropical rainforest converge. Fun Fact: There is an exhibition at the Field Museum in Chicago about Senegal.
Fatou and her family visiting Guanajuato, Mexico.
Do you have any children? How many and what are their names and ages? Yes, Ramatoulie (12) Abdoul Ahad (3)
What is your ideal “I think I’ll call in sick today” day? Rainy Day (I hope this will not catch up with me one day, lol).
What is something you get overly competitive about and why? Anything I sign up for, I give it my all. An example of this is the first time I came to the US, I had decided to go to school here despite studying in French language all my life. Some people had said not to bother with the studies because it was their opinion that a lot of immigrants that started school here did not finish. This made it a competition for me.
Also, another example that is more recent, was during Aria’s summer wellness challenge (which I am on top of the leaderboard). The challenge consists of daily tasks that we have to complete in order to build some healthy habits. I’ll let you in on a secret (don’t tell my competitors), I go to the gym at 6:00 am for an hour just to get half of my 10,000 steps in daily.
Fatou worked on an award winning community center designed and built in Chile while she attended IIT.
Best travel story? I have a few, but I’ll go with my Chile trip. Summer 2016 while at IIT we traveled to Chile for our Design Build Studio. Even though it was hectic, it was a great experience. We designed a Pavilion in the Spring semester and built it that summer in Chile. The project won the AIA Chicago Small Project Honor Awards in 2018, and received an Honorable Mention for the Roberta Feldman Architecture for Social Justice Awards. You can read more on the project here & here.
What would be the one thing you would bring on a deserted island and why? A book, I love to read and won’t mind being alone.
Speaking of books, What’s the last book you read? The Harry Potter Collection (I bought them for my daughter but finished them before her).
Books aside, what’s the last TV show you binged/watched? Current favorite Movie? Criminal Minds & The Negotiator with Samuel L. Jackson
A rendering of a Dave & Buster’s in Cary North Carolina – a project that Fatou enjoyed working on.
Most memorable project? Dave & Buster’s in Cary North Carolina. This is because it was a new prototype design which also was challenged with a complex building structure making for a unique design opportunity.
Would you rather be poor with great style/taste or rich with horrible style/taste? Rich with horrible style/taste. I don’t really care what people think about my style as long as I’m comfortable.Meet the Team: Nathan Kiecker
Welcome to another edition of Meet the Team! This month, we would like you to meet Nathan Kiecker. Nathan is an Architectural Designer and has been a part of the Aria Group team since 2019. Recently, Nathan’s focus has been on several Shake Shack projects around the U.S. and his technical talents have been instrumental to several other sports entertainment venues like Topgolf and the Henrico Sports Complex. Rounding out his hospitality experience, Nathan is also on the team that designed three new food & beverage spaces within Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry. Continue reading to learn more about Nathan!
What project are you most proud of since being at Aria Group? That would be my first project ever: Shake Shack San Francisco Centre. It was a small interior buildout in the Westfield Mall but it taught me the detailed intricacies that smaller projects require when designing in an existing space. I would liken it to mastering a game of Tetris. Being a part of the process was definitely very rewarding specifically in detailing and coordinating an angular design.
Where did you grow up? I grew up, and still live, in Berwyn, Illinois. Berwyn is 10 minutes south of Oak Park where Aria is located so I have been familiar with the area and surroundings all my life. It is really nice being close by our office.
What did you want to be when you grew up and why? Since childhood, I have always wanted to be an architect. It may sound cliché, but being introduced and experiencing Frank Lloyd Wright’s residential work along with his home and studio—just minutes from my own home—was very influential. I took that direction and passion and have built my career toward that goal.
How many siblings do you have and are they anything like you? I have two older sisters Nicole (the oldest) and Nora (Middle) which makes me the baby. A fun fact is our names start with the letter N, and I would say all three of us have design-orientated minds as do our parents, who are both graphic designers. We all followed in their footsteps.
Nathan and his two older sisters all followed in their parents footsteps with design oriented careers.
What is something you get overly competitive about and why? Anything sports-related, definitely golf. If I wanted to be completely honest though, I’m competitive when it comes to anything that involves two individuals and an end goal of winning. Being competitive is a personal driver for me but when I’m working with my team – I want my team to be successful first and foremost.
Nathan is always ready for a competitive game of golf!
If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be and why? Pasta! I have eaten it so much that now I can make my own sauce from scratch. It’s just one of those easy quick meals that can be made anytime.
What’s the last TV show you binge-watched? Ozark. Season 4, Part 1.
What’s your current favorite TV show? Peacemaker! If you have not seen, or heard of this, do yourself a huge favor and have a blast. Thank me later.
What is in the trunk of your car right now? My golf clubs. I’m always prepared for a round with the boys, weather permitting of course. But then again, that is what Topgolf is for!
What is something most people don’t know about you? I collect sneakers. #Sneakerhead. I have really stepped up my game in the last 5 years. I usually wear beaters during the winter, but when the weather warms up be on the lookout for the heat!
Do you have a favorite travel story? So this is not one of my best stories, but it’s definitely one I’ll always remember. When I was in college I decided to wait in line for the new iPhone (at the time it was the iPhone 6). In-store purchasing started at 6am on a Saturday morning at this particular mall which was roughly 15 miles away from college. I had the bright idea of biking there to be one of the first to purchase. So I left and headed out around 8pm the evening before. Since this part of Michigan did not have many sidewalks or street lights, I had to bike up and down hilly roads overnight holding a flashlight in one hand and cars racing past me. After 2 hours of biking I arrived. Following several cups of coffee at a nearby Denny’s, I headed over to the mall to jump in line. It was incredible how many people rushed in all at once—many of them serial early adopters who always flood Apple stores for the next upgrade. The experience was chaos! Pushing, shoving— pure CHAOS! Even an ambulance arrived to help with injuries. When I finally made it to the front of the line, I learned that I needed my parent to verify the account information. The crazy adventure was all for nothing. Ever since, I happily just order online!
Check out other editions of Meet the Team on our Blog!
Aria Group: Beat the Streets
We are excited to share another successful pro bono project that extends our continued commitment to social responsibility, environmental stewardship, equity and inclusion. Aria Group began collaborating in 2020 with Beat the Streets on their new South Archer Avenue wrestling facility located in the Garfield Ridge neighborhood of Chicago—a project that would transform and directly improve a community by introducing expanded equity programs to reach a larger audience and girls in particular. Beat the Streets Chicago is a nonprofit organization that aims to empower Chicago youth through wrestling. They believe that wrestling has the ability to positively impact both physical health and social emotional learning, creating “Life Champions.” This program, when combined with other in-house enrichment programming, empowers Chicago youth with a pathway to positive life outcomes. We couldn’t be more proud to highlight our continued commitment to take part in such projects that allow us to donate our talent and time through conceptualization and meaningful design solutions.
We worked with Executive Director, Mike Powell, to design a space that fit the needs of this growing organization. The space contains two wrestling rooms, a weight room, a coach’s office, two locker rooms, a referee’s locker room, and a classroom for enrichment programs that include a range of coaching initiatives around test prep and tutoring to mentoring students on financial literacy and nutritional wellness.
Alongside Aria Group, Stages Construction and BTR Engineers donated their time and resources to make this project possible. Aria Group is honored to have been able to aid in the impactful mission behind Beat the Streets. We are excited to see this new facility used to its fullest extent and for the Beat the Streets team to continue with their pivotal role of empowering our Chicago youth.
Our team for this project consisted of Josh Curvey, Doug Lueken, Lillian Reyes-Brahar, Joe Junius, Katherine Dafcik, and Chris Wilson.
General Contractor: Stages Construction
MEP Engineer: BTR Engineering
Structural Engineer: Hart Gaugler
Meet the Team: Kyle Miller
Welcome to another edition of Meet the Team! Kyle Miller began at Aria Group in February 2015 as an Architectural Technician and was recently promoted to Project Coordinator. He brings an attention to detail and a positive outlook to every project he works on – we’re lucky to have him as a part of our team! A short list of clients Kyle has worked with include Buddy’s Pizza, Topgolf, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse, Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille, Copa Kitchen & Bar, and Dos Toros Taqueria in Chicago. Kyle is proud to have had the opportunity to help establish Topgolf’s latest single-level concept and his detailing work on the Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse in San Diego California. That project helped Aria Group secure the NEWH Top ID award.
Where and what did you study in undergrad and grad school? I studied at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale where I received my undergrad and graduate degree in Architecture. I was also a graduate assistant in the digital fabrication lab and worked at the Campus Architecture Office.
Where did I grow up? I grew up in Warrenville, Illinois.
Do you have a child? My wife Colleen and I had our first child, McKenzie Harper, last November. She is the joy of our lives and such a happy little girl.
Do you have any pets? One dog – she’s spunky and sweet and looks like a teddy bear. Her name is Sadie Mae and has her own Instagram and at one time had more followers than Aria Group. Sadie is 5 years old and is a Havanese.
Best travel story? For our honeymoon we went to Italy. We immersed ourselves into the culture and traveled only by foot or public transit. We stayed only at local bed and breakfasts. We traveled to the Vatican in Rome, did a cooking class with a chef in Florence, explored St. Mark’s Square in Venice, and enjoyed the views in Positano.
Favorite Restaurant in Chicago? Lou Malnati’s. What is more Chicago than deep dish pizza?
What is your favorite ice cream flavor? Vanilla but that’s because it needs to be paired with brownies or blueberry pie.
What is your drink of choice? Blue Moon Belgian White with an orange slice and a splash of orange juice.
What is something most people don’t know about you? I am a black belt in two styles of martial arts Tang Soo Do and Hapkido. I practiced for 10 years and was an instructor for all ages but loved teaching the little ones.
Check out other editions of Meet the Team on our blog!Meet the Team: Brian Zielinski
Welcome to another edition of Meet the Team! Brian Zielinski is a Project Manager at Aria Group who just celebrated 15 years with our firm. He joined our team in 2006 as an Architectural Technician and has been practicing architecture for 17 years. Brian has managed a variety of projects in our office, including Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille, Buddy’s Pizza, Topgolf, and Nando’s. He is currently working on an exciting sports complex that we are designing on the east coast! He says he has a hard time choosing a favorite project as there are so many that standout, but mentions the Topgolf Nashville music venue and Perry’s Steakhouse in Schaumburg. Another that brings back memories is a California Pizza Kitchen in Tempe, AZ, which is where it all started for him at Aria. Fun Fact: Brian almost didn’t study architecture. He credits staying close to his hometown as a main reason that he eventually landed at Aria Group. Lucky for us that Brian made the right decision and our team and our clients have all benefited. To learn about more fun facts about Brian, read on!
Do you have children? How many and what are their names and ages? My wife and I have two beautiful, smart, and wonderful girls: Elizabeth (12) and Katelyn (8). Elizabeth is an old soul, very creative, and artistic. Katelyn is a little spit fire, always looking for fun, and is very competitive. We are so lucky to have them in our lives.
Do you volunteer any of your time with your kids’ activities? I volunteer my time and coach any sport my daughters want to play – soccer, volleyball, softball, golf and now probably basketball this winter. I grew up playing sports of all kinds and have played travel soccer and club volleyball for many years and played volleyball in college. In the past, I’ve coached volleyball at the collegiate level and at an elite volleyball club in the Chicagoland area, so naturally I figured I’d get back into coaching with my girls when they were ready. I’ve always felt playing sports is such a crucial thing for kids to be a part of to learn about hard work, team work, responsibility, facing adversity, success, struggles, the highs, the lows – it all helps them in anything they decide to do in life. It’s also such a joy to teach kids and develop their skills. The transition from the beginning of a season to the end is amazing to watch the progress the kids make in a short amount of time.
What did you want to be when you grew up and why? From the earliest I can remember, I wanted to be an engineer or architect. I was always building or tinkering with something when I was a kid. My uncles were engineers, my Grandpa loved to draw and paint, and my Dad can fix just about anything. They all had a tremendous influence on me and the profession I chose.
If you had a boat, what would you name it and why? (stupid names only) Comfortably Numb. Yes, Pink Floyd fan guilty as charged if you get the reference. This was a good bar name I came up with when I designed a bar in college, but I’m more likely to own a boat than a bar in my lifetime. The name definitely fits the boating lifestyle.
What is your ideal “I think I’ll call in sick today” day? Really not my cup of tea to call in a PTO day if I’m busy, but 75 degrees, light breeze, not a cloud in the sky is ideal – I’d be teeing it up on the golf course. Afterwards I’d spend time with family or friends. Those that know me well know I’d be back online taking care of business in the evening.
Since we are all foodies, share your favorite restaurant in Chicago: Vie which is Chef Paul Virant’s fine dining restaurant in the suburb of Western Springs. It had a Michelin star for a couple of years about a decade ago which is the reason why we tried it out originally. My wife and I had a wonderful experience their the first time we went. Our waiter that night happened to also be the sommelier, and he took us on a tour of the wine cellar and the kitchen after we were done with dinner. I highly recommend as the food is incredible, the presentation magnificent, and the staff is so personable.
What’s the last book you read? The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz. I’m a history geek and love how Erik Larson books intertwine non-fiction historic events into a story.
Words you live by and why? Work hard, tell the truth, and do the right thing. Growing up my family always stressed these things, but it wasn’t until recent years that I combined all of these as it was a motto I’ve heard from my wife’s late uncle who was an outstanding guy and inspiration to many.
You have to wear a t-shirt with one word on it every day for one year. What word do you choose and why? “Relax.” Why? Because everyone needs to relax a little bit and take a deep breath every once in a while. We all need to chill out and recharge to get ready for the next task, the next adventure. (“Booya!” is a close second and maybe the word on the back of the t-shirt.)
Check out other editions of Meet the Team on our blog!Meet the Team: Catie Crutchfield
Welcome to another edition of Meet the Team! Catie joined Aria Group in August 2018 and has been a force to reckon with as she dabbles in various project types and clients. From Protein Bar, to Palmer House, and now working on a new casino project – Catie really has stretched her wings in her short tenure here. Outside of daily work, she also won an internal competition designing the entry feature wall at the our office and participated in the winning Stitch design team last year. Grabbed your attention? Read more about Catie below!
Catie presenting her winning design for the feature wall in our office & snuggling with her kitten Penny
What did you want to be when you grew up and why? I remember wanting to be a veterinarian for a while because I loved animals – I’m especially obsessed with cats. Then in high school I realized that math and sciences are really not my strong suit, but I had always loved the arts and been good at them. Since my junior year, I planned on pursuing interior design.
Do you have any pets? I have my beloved kitten Penny who is a domestic tortoiseshell shorthair cat – she is dark brown with a beautiful marbled coat of cream, black, and copper flecks (hence ‘Penny’). She’ll be a year old on May 31st. Something about her is a bit off – she walks a little wobbly, can’t jump or land on her paws very well, and tends to fall right over if you accidentally knock her. But I think this just adds to her charm.
Catie and her best friend’s matching tattoos
Do you have any tattoos? If so, of what? Ah, I was hoping you’d ask. If you’ve seen me in short sleeves lately you’ll know I have quite a few. It’s important to know that not all of my tattoos have a meaning behind them. I get tattoos for the artistic aspect – to be my own walking art display. However, I do have some that are more than just a picture. One I have is a counterpart with my best friend whom I grew up next door to – we each got the outlines of our houses on our arm. I have a portrait of my childhood cat Jack on my thigh, and a penny as a symbol for my more recently adopted kitten Penny. And I’ll share as a warning to all – I have a queen’s crown which was a matching tattoo with, yes, an ex-boyfriend. After we split I tattooed a snake slithering right through it!
What’s a talent that you wish you had, but don’t? I really wish I was able to sing at least somewhat decently. I am absolutely awful. I can’t even hum a tune well. Music and rhythm is not my strong suit. I dance very off-beat as well (but it doesn’t stop me from still dancing).
Catie and her childhood best friends still remain close and take in a Ben Gibbard concert early 2020.
Who is your favorite musician/musical group? Without a doubt, Death Cab for Cutie. While I am often poked fun at in the office for being a Jonas Brothers fan girl, I would forgo them for DCFC. I have seen them live 6 or 7 times. The last live show I attended right before Covid was Ben Gibbard solo at Thalia Hall. I went with my two best friends I’ve known since age 5 – we stood in the second row and it was absolutely amazing.
Catie and her older brother not only look alike, they also both love science fiction and gaming!
How many siblings do you have and are they anything like you? I have an older brother, Joe (I call him Joey), by 5 years. To my dismay, I am told I look a lot like him (especially when I don’t wear makeup). It’s a little worse now considering I have a “boy” haircut. I think we are alike in some of our interests and mannerisms. We both have creative brains (he is in the music and sound industry), but I like to think that I’m less stubborn!
What is something most people don’t know about you? It comes as a surprise to a lot of people that I’ve got a video game and sci-fi lover side to me. My older brother is a huge sci-fi and video game fanatic, so I grew up playing Game Boy, N64, GameCube – every Mario series game, to Kirby, to James Bond Goldeneye. Last year I bought a Nintendo Switch (it’s pink) and I nerd out on games like Animal Crossing and Super Mario Sunshine. I also love movies like Star Wars and Back to the Future – I’m always down for a good science fiction or time travel story.
Who is your dream dinner guest (past, present, or future) and why? It sounds cliché, but I genuinely would choose my maternal grandmother, affectionately called Nana – and Papa if I can get them as a package deal. I was pretty young when they passed, 13 and 7 respectively. While I do have so many fond memories of them both even being as young as I was, I always wish I could sit down and talk with them as an adult. As a child you don’t have the capacity to understand your grandparents lived a whole life before you knew them. I’d love to ask them so much that I never was mature enough to ask.
Meet the Team: Will Olds
Welcome to another addition of Meet the Team! Will Olds joined our team in August 2019, fresh off completing his master’s degree at Kansas State University. In Will’s time at Aria, he has worked on a wide variety of projects including True Food Kitchen, Cooper’s Hawk and most recently Shake Shack. Will has aided our team with his strong Revit skills including developing a new BIM prototype for one of our clients. He isn’t just a technician, though. He has presented design solutions for True Food Kitchen as well as our exploratory suburban mall case study project. He always has great ideas and is an overall great team player with his very approachable and fun personality. Read more about Will below!
Will experiencing European culture at a Copenhagen Football Game
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Astronaut/Astronomer…until I took a physics course!
What would you have been if you weren’t an architect? Graphic Designer or Travel Agent. I identify with a small subset of people who actively enjoy zooming around Google Maps and Google Earth. I think it would be a job that doesn’t feel like a job based on how much I enjoy researching different cultures, cities, restaurants, points of interest, etc. I also think it plays into the exact same skillsets we use in architecture: solving large, complex problems with lots of ‘moving parts’ and coordination between 30 different possible solutions. Plus, I just love to travel—I’ve been to 41 states and 10 countries in my 25 short years.
A younger Will (left) with his two brothers at the Seattle Space Needle.
How many siblings do you have? I have 2 younger brothers, and we’re each about 3 years apart. Fun fact: we all have different hair colors, eye colors, and personalities. I have brown hair and eyes and would describe myself as a thinker, observer, solver. The middle brother has blonde hair and blue eyes and is a super social, people-person. And the youngest has bright red hair and hazel eyes and is a know-it-all and musician.
What is your favorite book? Happy City by Charles Montgomery. It’s a great look into the connection between urban design and the science of happiness. I was reading parts of it for my urban planning minor in grad school and loved it so much I ended up reading the rest. The author not only goes in depth on what our built environment can do for happiness (or fails to do), but he provides a lot of urban design strategies that can improve our cities from a social and emotional aspect (beyond pure functionality).
What is your favorite type of cuisine? My mom’s side of the family is Italian, so I’d have to say Italian. It reminds me of home, and my body may or may not run on pasta, tomato sauce, garlic bread, and parmesan cheese.
What is something you get overly competitive about? Board games with friends that shouldn’t be that serious. I may have an ongoing scoreboard of various games I play with my friends and siblings knowing that I have always been a jack-of-all-trades and even if I was beat at one thing, I’d win the long game and beat them at stuff they weren’t good at.
Will testing his Survivor skills at Mt Rainier.
If you had to be on a reality TV show, which one would you choose? Survivor. I love the competitive and survival aspects of the show. I’d like to think I could fly under the radar during the team/tribe part of the game, but I would definitely have to work on my poker face and social game before going.
Words you live by: “Less is More” –Ludwig Mies van der Rohe