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Women of FA: Heera Basi

Q: When did you first become interested in architecture?

I first became interested in architecture when I was in high school. I loved both math and art classes (our high school had amazing art program and my favorites were ceramics and glass blowing). Also, when I was in high school my parents remodeled our home, so I got to experience the design process firsthand at a young age. However, I didn’t go straight into an undergrad program in architecture - I started as a Molecular Biology major, but soon realized it was not my passion. I remembered my exposure to architecture, and it seemed like the perfect combination of the creativity I enjoyed with art and the problem solving that I loved in math. So, I changed my major to Urban Studies and Planning and applied to grad school to pursue a Master of Architecture degree!

Q: What is your favorite part of the design process? What kind of projects do you gravitate towards?

There are many parts of the design process that I love. I really enjoy the early stages of design when you can dream big and be the most creative and open to different possibilities. I also appreciate the problem-solving aspects of the process – whether that’s trying to resolve a tricky detail or coming up with a new solution to something that isn’t working as well as it could be.

Q: How long have you practiced architecture and design? How has your understanding of the industry changed since the start of your career?

I have been practicing architecture for about 12 years now. Time flies! When I first started, I thought 90% of architecture was pure design work. But in reality, there are so many other aspects that go into building a home and managing a project. One of the most important qualities of an architect is their people skills – fostering relationships and building trust is such an important part of the profession. Whether with clients, contractors, consultants, or colleagues, a successful project truly comes from a great team where everyone is working together toward the same goal of creating something inspiring and meaningful.

Q: What challenges to do you face as a female architect in a male dominated industry?

Fortunately, the industry is evolving and there are more female architects and industry professionals. But there are still times where I show up on a job site and people don’t expect me to the be project manager or architect in charge.

Q: Who is your favorite female architect?

So many! I really admire Julia Morgan and what she achieved in the industry at the time, and I appreciate how she brought a real local California vibe to some of her projects. I also love the work of Rossana Hu. We saw her speak and present her firm’s work at the Monterey Design Conference in 2019. I had just visited Shanghai earlier that year and was inspired by the celebration of the historic architecture and traditional style, while adding a modern twist to blend the two together.

Q: What is the most interesting project you’re working on right now?

All my projects are interesting in their own way, but the project I’m most excited about at the moment is Staglin Family Vineyard East Residence, which is currently under construction. It’s for a family in the wine industry and is located on their vineyard. Not only is the setting incredible, but it’s always a really fulfilling experience to see our design work come to life. This is also a project that we’ve really been able to execute details at a high level - we’re fortunate to have a talented, collaborative team where everyone is working together to create a beautiful and unique home.

Q: How do you express yourself creatively outside of the office?

When I’m not in the office I love being outside and spending time with my family and friends – hiking, exploring, cooking, getting out of the city to soak in some sun. Not sure how creative that is on its own, but it certainly helps me recharge and get the creative juices flowing at work!

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