For Jason Smith, one of the most gratifying parts of being an architect is the tangible reward of seeing his visions come to life, and the positive impact they can have on people and communities as they interact with them.
“I’ve had the pleasure of overhearing people talk about a great experience they had because of something I designed,” he says. “They just happened to be talking about it when I walked by.”
Smith, a design principal at SmithGroup in Chicago, knows good projects mean collaboration. He wants his designs to enhance the communities that surround them. To do this, he’s focusing on getting client groups, architects, engineers and, yes, the community involved in his projects.
“We’re cultivating a vision for a project together and I shepherd that process, rather than come up with it all on my own,” he says.
“Some of the coolest spaces I’ve designed have been ones where I’m working with a structural engineer and a facade manufacturer,” Smith states. “We’re thinking about the space together.” Smith says this collaboration results in a better end product, and a better world.
He’s talked to the people who live and work around his buildings so that his designs can be more responsive to the community’s needs. He says it’s crucial to have empathy.
He’s learned that getting input early in the process is critical, and it has also helped the bottom line. “When you think of design as a series of hierarchical relationships, you start to understand where you can make trade-offs,” he says.