Our Exclusive ILMA Interview Felicia Middleton @UrbanAesthetics

Felicia Middleton is an Architecture Design Professional, an Author, an EPA Certified Renovator and an Entrepreneur. She is the principal of Urban Aesthetics, LLC serving the Philadelphia metropolitan area.  She specializes in Residential and Commercial Architecture and Interior Design – both Renovations and New Construction – as well as Commercial and Residential Kitchens and Baths, Quality Assurance, Interior Material Specifications, Interior Commercial Design including Restaurants and Bars, Salons and Spas, Education and Church Facilities and Corporate Design and Retail Planning. She also provides Construction Administration and Construction Management services.

She can be found on social media by following these links: Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and on LinkedIn.

ILMA INTERVIEW

When and why did you decide to become an Architect?

At the young age of 15, while attending the Carver H.S. of Engineering and Science I took a drafting class and decided what I wanted to do as a career. I told a drafting teacher that I wanted to draw on computers. We had a drafting teacher who was very encouraging, named Mr. Avant. The students loved him so much because he would let us eat lunch with him in his drafting class and he had a genuine interest in each one of us. Sadly, he passed last year. I always wanted to thank him for his help and encouragement.

What were some of the challenges of achieving your dream?

College financing often was a challenge for me. My family had difficulties and paying for college became a struggle. I had to work many jobs while in college but I realize now that those jobs helped lay the framework for my future. Thank God for making it possible for me to overcome so many obstacles and pursue and achieve my dream.

Any memorable clients or project highlights?

Earlier in my career, I designed a Commissary Kitchen Warehouse and several cafeterias for the Vineland School District in Vineland, NJ. I learned so much from that project. I learned a lot about the operations of school food facilities. That learning process really reinforced how important the use of a building is in design and planning.

During that same time, I worked on many well-known food facility projects in casinos throughout the country. I found a design niche that I grew to love and still love over a decade later.

How does your family support what you do?

My immediate family supports me 100%. Especially my mother. She has been my biggest fan. My friends and family will often pass my name to others who may need my services. In addition, they support events and projects sponsored by my company, especially the community projects.

How do Architects measure success?

Many architects measure success via projects and achievements and the impact that they have on others. I would also add that success is measured by the way we are able to make a difference in our communities.

What matters most to you in design?

Safety, is extremely important to me, also function and aesthetics. Buildings are where we spend the majority of our time so they should be safe spaces that add to our well-being.

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

What do you hope to achieve over the next 2 years? 5 years?

Over the next two years I will focus on managing Urban Aesthetics projects while developing my own individual brand. Within 5 years I will have my brand developed in Food Facility Design and operate separately from Urban Aesthetics.

Who is your favorite Architect? Why?

I feel in our profession mentoring and inspiring is very important. Your life, work and values should inspire your followers. My favorite historical architect, Daniel Burnham’s life story is inspiring, his buildings are beautiful and he has written very inspiring quotes. I have used his quote as a motto for my business.

“Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency…”

My favorite current architects are my colleagues.

Do you have a coach or mentor?

I have a Business Coach but unfortunately, I do not currently have a mentor. I have been blessed with many mentors throughout my life and career and I have mentored many.

Mentoring relationships are not permanent. They end or change as we grow. I have desired to find a mentor for a couple of years but I have not been able to create the relationship.

The architect that I share an office with is probably the closest person to a mentor that I currently have. He is a senior on the architecture profession and he offers advice and gives advice when I ask. I have a great deal of respect for him.

What is your favorite historic and modern (contemporary) project? Why?

My favorite historic project is the Colosseum. The Colosseum is a grand structure located in Rome, Italy. It is beautiful and strong, representing the games that were performed for spectators. Amazingly, it has stood robust and tall for almost 2000 years.

My favorite modern building has changed a many ties over the last 20 years, as innovation, design and the environment surrounding me changes. Most recently, the Cira Center, in Philadelphia, has been a favorite. I love it because it stands a jewel above the surrounding buildings and it represented the expansion of our downtown to the other side of the Schuylkill River. An added bonus is that the building is green, LEED Certified.

Where do you see the profession going over the next few decades?

For a while, it seemed as if there was a decline in the profession but I have noticed a recent resurgence. I do believe there needs to be some liberation in the process involved in becoming an architect and function within the profession. I see the profession opening up to multiple careers, interchanging with architecture.

What type of technology do you see in the design and construction industries?

Virtual 3d Modeling is a form of technology that I have seen most recently. Virtual reality in design will help us communicate designs to clients who have difficulty understanding plans. In addition, advances in project management software helps to streamline the planning and construction processes.

Who / what has been your greatest influence in design?

The Green Movement has been my greatest influence in design. I became serious about environmental issues while in college and there I decided that it would have a big impact on my work. I worked for an environmental organization for a couple of years while in college and I learned so much. I added a few environment-centered courses while in college and

my senior internship included researching Brownfield’s Redevelopment. When I first entered the design world, eco-friendly design was not a large part of what we did. I was a bit discouraged at first but was reenergized in the early 2000’s when the green movement really started taking shape.

Which building or project type would you like to work on that you haven’t been part of yet?

A LEED project. My current burning desire is to participate on a LEED project.

How do you hope to inspire / mentor the next generation of Architects?

I will to continue mentoring our young people by explaining to them as many aspects of our work as I can, to help the understand all that is included and let them see that this profession has so much to offer, depending on what direction you wish to go. I will let them see that when you fall in love with your work, it can be very fulfilling. I hope to let them see that you can make a difference in your community and also the world while working in this field but you MUST find your way.

What advice would you give aspiring architects (K-12)? College students? Graduates?

Fall in love love with architecture and the profession if you want to succeed and endure the work. You will have to put your time in while working but be sure to learn more than what is expected.

What does Architecture mean to you?

Architecture is art in the form of function and use. We create structures that affect people physically and emotionally. We discover solutions to problems both spatially and creatively. I learned at a young age that I liked seeing how things come together. In architecture, part of your work is to develop the way a building comes together. At times we have to take a building apart to bring the desired project together.

What is your design process?

I follow a basic process:

  • Determining the client’s Gain an understanding of their situation (financial, time constraints and any limitations)
  • Preliminary Research – Code, Zoning, Needs of Use, Property,
  • Pre-Design – Discuss research findings, create
  • Design Development – Develop the concept into a more workable Additional research.
  • Coordinate with project team.
  • Complete

If you could not be an Architect, what would you be?

If I could not work in this great profession, I would be a writer. I guess I already am a writer. I have always excelled at writing. Writing is my second love, next to architecture. I have published 2 books, written for magazines and published several blogs. I absolutely love to write.

What is your dream project?

I have a strange desire to design a high-end Starbucks, similar to the project in progress in Chicago.

What advice do you have for a future Executive leader?

Take time to let things develop. Relish in the importance of being guided by others, mentors who can help you and your interests. You must share in your success, look to give to your fellow business colleagues. Develop a relationship with fellow business owners and remember that collaboration produces multiple wins. Work with partnerships, strategically develop partners with whom you can develop lasting business relationships.

What are three key challenges you face as a leader in business today and one trend you see in your industry?

Maintaining Momentum is a challenge that requires constant thought and planning. Moving to the next level while continuing a current pace is very important for success.

Keeping the needs of our community in focus while maintaining momentum is important and also challenging.

One trend I have seen in my industry, especially locally is the explosion of development within the inner city. It is similar to the Mc-Mansion boom we saw years ago.

What one thing must an executive leader be able to do to be successful in the next 3 years?

Remain relevant to society, business and your community. Offer a unique service that keeps the client as a focus.

What are some executive insights you have gained since you have been sitting in the executive leadership seat – or what is one surprise you have encountered as the world of business continues to morph as we speak?

I have learned that business is difficult and you have to extract emotion from the process or it will wear you out. I work in a creative profession but often the bottom line drives my work. I’ve read about and followed the lives of innovative leaders in business to inspire me, geniuses such as Steve Jobs. Although they are one-in-a million I you can be one, I can make a difference. I strive to learn as much as you can from these leaders, both good and bad and use their tools in my work.

Shark Tank may be entertaining but you can learn a lot watching that show. Learn where you can. Never stop educating yourself. Follow the rules.

A surprise I have encountered is the number of opportunities that are available for current and future business owners.

Final Thoughts on How to Be Successful?

Read as much as you can. Keep learning. Be honest, thankful and give back as much as possible. Follow the rules. To me, true success, being able to use the resources that you’ve been blessed with to bless someone else. Whether it is with your money, labor, knowledge, time, mentoring, etc.

For more exclusive ILMA interviews click here.

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,
FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook

Christmas Gift Ideas from ILMA

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Who are the Wonderful Women of @SpicieDotCom???

Spicie is today’s woman. She is different. She is unique.

Spicie

The Spicie woman may be your sister. She may be your neighbor. She may be your co-worker. She may be your boss. She may be you.

S – Sexy – The Spicie woman is sexy. We’re comfortable with who we are. Both women and men want to be around us and get to know us.

P – Passionate – The Spicie woman is passionate. We love fiercely. We stand up for for the things we believe in.

I – Interesting – The Spicie woman is interesting. We’re not our mother or mother’s mother. We’re aware of what is going on in the world and are always ready with an opinion.

C – Curious – The Spicie woman is curious. We’re well-read and well-educated – whether through traditional means or self-taught. We don’t blindly accept but want to ask why.

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And here they are:

Sharon Hayes: Publisher

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Sharon Hayes is a marketing dynamo and currently serves as the President & CEO of Sling Shot Media, LLC and CEO ofDomainate.com. She has worked with organizations of all sizes on strategy and implementation of marketing objectives through social media, community development, e-mail marketing and domain names.

Sharon has worked almost exclusively online since 1991 – predating commercial usage of the Internet.  With a diverse background in all aspects of online marketing, Sharon has provided clients with an integrated approach to the marketing and development of their businesses.

Although Sharon no longer works directly with clients, her companies provide many marketing services. You can review information about her companies’ services here.

Amanda Fox: Editor-In-Chief

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Amanda Fox describes herself as a collector of useless degrees, proud US Air Force veteran, bored atmospheric scientist and burnt out activist. Over the last several years, Amanda has dedicated herself to initiatives related to helping all oppressed people attain equality, particularly the LGBT community. Amanda is  enjoying life with her partner, their three kids and her fluffball kitteh Zoe. Her partner is the owner of Brilliance On Demand and an ardent supporter of Amanda’s pursuit of her inalienable right to enjoy the perfect nap.

Tracy Madlener: Team Spicie

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Tracy Madlener is a crazy insane person who thinks that she can create a new K-12 education system all by herself.  With any luck, she’ll succeed and all will be right with her world.  In the meantime, she homeschools her 2 kids and is known in the homeschool community as the go-to person for information and resources in alternative education.

She is the creator of www.asktracyabouthomeschool.com and also pens her thoughts about education at Alternative Education System. Tracy is also the writer behind the lipstick obsessed character that is Caffeinated OC Mommy that took the #1 spot in the Top 25 SoCal Mom Blogs for 2012.

Heather Jabusch: Team Spicie

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Heather Jabusch, LSU class of 2000, is the Director of Sales & Catering at Wingate by Wyndham in Sulphur, LA. Heather is a cutting edge social media enthusiast and renowned hospitality specialist providing advice on travel planning.

Anise Smith: Team Spicie

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Anise Smith has a Masters Degree in Internet Marketing and is President and Director of Anise Smith Marketing which specializes in mixing Traditional and Digital Marketing Strategies using Mobile Web, QR code Products, and more. Anise is also the Digital Marketing Specialist of Full services healthcare Company located in Cherry Hill, NJ.

She also works as an advocate for non profit organization which provides financial assistance for medically fragile children and their families. When she is not online she is a rabid Philadelphia EAGLES Fan, closet Foodie and single mom to a 13 year old miniature male version of herself.
Carrie Eckles: Team Spicie
 
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“Carrie Eckles attended the University of North Alabama where she majored in English, and the Academy of Art University in San Francisco where she focused on fashion design, reporting, and illustration. A lifelong sufferer of lupus, she considers herself a “lupus warrior” and survivor, and is active within the Lupus and “Spoonie” Twitter communities, which offer support for victims of these invisible illnesses. During college, Carrie went from waiting tables in local restaurants to actively pursuing her dream of writing.
At the age of twenty, she began her writing career under the tutelage of fellow Spicie, Amanda Fox. To date, she has written articles on various topics for clients big and small. Her downtime is spent working on her novel, bantering, playing with her dogs, playing with her family, over-analyzing HBO’s Game of Thrones, and occasionally ranting on her personal blog.”
Barbie Fariña: Social Media Director
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Barbie Fariña works in the area of telecommunications. For over 10 years she work in this area, in Telefonica.SA one of the largest telecommunications companies in South America and Europe. Lover of art and music. Today is dedicated to promoting their passions. Journalism degree. In constant search of knowledge. Mother of two children. Who loves more than anything in the world. Defender of the rights of workers and helping all those in need. Passionate of science fiction movies and a good book. #SpiciePromoter
Alicia Taylor: Team Spicie

Alicia Taylor is a major freebie hound and coupon nut.  She believes that families can always benefit from saving a bit of money and has been running a popular blog since 1998, which features product reviews, giveaways and money saving techniques.  She’s an all-around fun-loving person whose claim to fame is an annual legendary Halloween party.  She’s a bona fide gamer chick with an XBox Live gamer score that will make most guys blush.  She was a geek before it was chic and convinced her high school math teacher to teach a Pascal programming class in the 80′s in a school with only 5 computers. She was the only female in the class.  She adores sci-fi, 80’s hard rock, and photography.She attended the University of West Florida and majored in both Psychology and Information Technology with a Digital Enterprise specialization.  She has three sons and a daughter.  Her oldest son struggles with autism and Alicia spends much of her time helping him navigate through the world.

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We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments.

If you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,
Frank Cunha III
I Love My Architect – Facebook

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Ideas about SOCIAL MEDIA (for Architects and Other Professionals) by @FrankCunhaIII

Unfortunately, Architecture is not the Football star of the social media world.

Here are a few suggestions if you want to obtain more followers and reach a wider audience using social media:

1) There are no key words that I know of to find potential/future clients, developers, and builders so I consider everyone I meet a potential contact – present or future – so I follow most people back.  So don’t just follow the professional organizations, other Architects, and allied professionals, instead broaden your fan/follower base.

2) Become the Go-To Guy / Gal for Architecture (or your profession) within your own social network (be it LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, etc).  I get all sorts of emails related to the profession which leads me to believe that the people I associate with and see me tweet about Architecture associate me as an “expert” in the field.

3) Expand. Don’t just tweet / post about Architecture.  My father tweets about Sports and gets 10 times more hits on his blog than I get.  This means that some professions like Architecture have less appeal, so tweet / post about other things you enjoy, be it art, music, culture, etc.

4) Change your tone – I like to post about hanging out with my children or visiting my family when I am on Facebook and Twitter.  LinkedIn I try to keep more professional.  I think it is fun and benefitical to show your personal side, but just be aware of what you are posting where.  Try to keep your posts on LinkedIn more professional (i.e., related to the industry or allied industries, like Real Estate, Energy Conservation, Codes, etc for Architects) and be more personable on Facebook and Twitter.

5) Don’t forget to recommend and connect people within your network.  I was very excited when I recently saw that a fellow Architect member of the Architects LEague connected a photographer to another Architect member in our group.  Everybody wins when you are able to connect two or more folks.  Make Social Media work for you by making these connections possible.

6) Don’t be scared to send a shout-out to your Followers on Twitter.  People want to be mentioned.  Whether you include others in a tweet about a story you saw or whether you include someone on a quotation you found people will want to interact with you more and be more engaging if you engage them.  So far the only people who have complained about me tweeting too much or not wanting to be mentioned (ironically) have been other Architects.  Everyone else I have encountered online has ben grateful when they are mentioned and 9 times out of 10 they will retweet my post so my message is reached even further to their followers.

7) Who do you want to emulate? Make sure you check out and follow other professionals who you see as your competition or colleagues so that you can learn from their success.  Retweet / repost what they send out and be sure to enage in a dialog with them even if it is just clicking the like button or posting a short message.  Trust me, as someone who knows, I absolutely appreciate and value those who interact with me.

Hope these help you make the most of your experience online and I hope you share your ideas with me as well.