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Women of FA: Kateryna Rogynska

Q: When did you first become interested in architecture?

I found myself being curious as my parents were building a home for my family. It was fun to see what their architect at the time (I was a teenager) recommended, I was especially fascinated by the process of selecting finishes. A few years later, my dad proposed I study architecture, since I was already attending a fine arts school.

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

I truly enjoy form finding in the schematic phase of a project, as well iterating the design during design development to identify a more realistic form using real-life dimensions and materials. Producing and seeing renderings of the imagined spaces is quite rewarding as well.

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

My first full time 6-month Architectural Internship was in LA in 2011, followed by several more 6-month adventures in Europe, and a subsequent move to SF in 2014. It has been a decade since I’ve embarked on this path. I think the biggest revelation has been understanding how complex and humbling this career is. You never truly feel like you “got it” and everything is under control, especially during the early years. The second biggest revelation has been that design and construction are very expensive, be it a small or a large project. Most people, including designers and clients, handling and predicting budget, which is an interest concept for something as concrete and tangible as a building.

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

The challenges I have experienced stemmed from working in large firms, with a lot of rigid hierarchy where to be heard you had to be very loud. The bigger the architectural firm, the more tough skinned one needed to be to endure long working hours and an efficient but cold atmosphere between male leadership and younger designer staff.

Q: Who is your favorite female architect?

I quite admire Neri Oxman for her impressive body of research and Frida Escobedo for her highly tactile and earthy design aesthetic.

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

The current Atherton home I’m working on has been a fun and complex puzzle to solve!

Q What project are you most proud of?

This Atherton project has real potential to be a future favorite, but until then, there is a skyscraper design I did with my previous firm that I am proud of.

Q: How does your personal identity shape your design practice?

In my eyes personal identity is inseparable from the design aesthetic. There were periods when I really enjoyed minimalist clothing and rather austere form and interior. With the passage of time, I find myself gravitating more towards color and textures in both the designs I propose and in the way I create my surroundings in life.

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

Playing music and DJing is one of my favorite ways to spend time. Photography and sketching takes second place.

Q: What advice would you give aspiring female architects?

Don’t be afraid to go all in on the design ideas and speak up to be heard.

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