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Friday Feature: Charlene

Aug 20, 2010

Who are you and what do you do?
Charlene Kovacs and I’m an Architect.

What made you decide to go into your field?
I knew since I was 15 after taking an aptitude test in Junior High School when architecture came out as the 2nd career choice. Criminology came out ahead of architecture, but I didn’t really know what that was. I’ve always loved to draw/doodle/rearrange spaces, etc. so it was all good from there.

What did your family think of your chosen field?
My dad was a Mechanical Engineer, so it naturally fit — although he is way more black and white than I am.

Who is the teacher who had the most influence on you and why?
Christine Macy, who was a sessional tutorial instructor at UBC. She had a very refreshingly current approach to architecture, which was exactly what I needed at that time.

What was the biggest hurdle you faced along your educational path? (academic, financial, motivational, family or peer pressure, outside distraction, etc.)
At first I didn’t want to put in all those years, but once I started, it was actually fun, especially all of the friendships I made along the way.

What inspires you?
Seeing the built form completed and watching the faces of the people who occupy the spaces.

What schooling is required for success in your career?
When I went through, I needed an undergraduate degree – mine was in fine arts. After that, it was three years at architecture school with an additional semester in Barcelona, which was the best, naturally.

What kind of people are the most successful in your field? Are there any specific attributes?
Success is defined in many ways. But if you are asking what kind of people make the best business out of architecture, then I would say very patient, but firm business minded people. If it’s purely about the art form, well then it’s all about the uninhibited imagination and pure determination to make it happen. Bonus if someone possesses both.

What is the best advice you were ever given?
You can’t be good at everything, so surround yourself with great people who compliment your strengths.

Is your field growing? (ie. is there room for new entries and is there career growth?)
Architecture is always evolving, so yes, for sure there is room for enthusiasts.

What advice would you give someone considering a career like yours?
Architecture is not just a profession, it’s a way of life, so make sure you have balance along the way. You only get better as you age.