Announcements March 30, 2022

Citizen Architect: Q&A with Nicole Seekely

2022 AIA Young Architects Award Winner
Nicole Seekely

“Emerging talent deserves recognition.” Therefore every year the AIA honors a new cohort of rising stars with its Young Architects Award. This year a project architect in our Atlanta studio put herself up for the distinction. Congratulations, Nicole. You’ve earned it.

Sit down session with Nicole!
Nicole and her dog walk down a shaded portion of the Atlanta BeltLine's Eastside Trail in 2013
With her dog Samantha on the Atlanta BeltLine, 2013.

Tell us about yourself—as an architect, but also as a human.

I’m a project architect here in the Atlanta studio. I grew up in the suburbs of Atlanta, went to school at Georgia Tech and then Columbia University. In  2010 I moved back to Atlanta to start my architectural career—but I don’t take myself too seriously. Life’s too short not to have fun. Right now I live in Reynoldstown with my fiancé and two dogs—I’m definitely one of those annoying people that talks about their dogs more than anyone wants to hear and I won’t apologize for it.

Tell us about your Atlantaas an architect, but also as a human. 

I actually struggled with moving back to Atlanta after grad school. In fact, I tried pretty hard not to. But the architectural job pickings were slim in 2010, and I landed my first job back in Atlanta. I’m so glad it happened that way—I love being part of a city that has a lot of room to grow, a lot of room for improvement. I want to look back decades from now and know that I made an impactI did this thing that made Atlanta better. My city is a diverse place, full of potential and energy. I want to help us realize our full potential.

Nicole leads a bike tour at an AIA conference in Atlanta.
Leading a bike tour for an AIA conference in Atlanta.

Who are you designing for?

I’m designing for the client, the end user, and everyone in between who is impacted by the built environment. Part of why I gravitate toward residential and multifamily design is the importance of the design. I’m creating the space the end user is going to eat, sleep, and nowadays work in. There’s something very intimate about designing with that in mind.

Equity in Architecture founders, with Rosa Sheng, FAIA, at AIA Women's Leadership Summit, 2017
AIA Equity in Architecture founders and Rosa Sheng, FAIA, 2017.

Where are we at in gender equity in the profession right now, and what’s the next ceiling we need to shatter? 

When I started working with AIA Georgia on gender equity in the profession in 2017, I believe the gap between women in the profession and women in school was 32 percent. Meaning, the school split was 50 percent female, but when you looked at the profession, it was more like only 18 percent female. That statistic has improved, but the architecture profession has some serious barriers.

Right now with COVID, we’ve probably lost some folks who had to step away from their jobs to address the needs of their family, whether it be child care or care of other loved ones. We need a plan to bring those people back into the profession.

What’s giving you life right now? 

The idea of travel. It’s been two years of work for my fiancé and me. I’m really looking forward to getting outside of our bubble and seeing the world. I want to find the next development or street or city that will inspire my designs.

Nicole Seekely and her fiance in Florence,
In Florence with her fiancé, Jordan, 2015.