Photo Courtsey of Construction News - Mary Hazlett - We want to send a special thank you to Mary Hazlett for the wonderful "Spotlight" Article she wrote about Lorraine M. Dailey in the July issues of Construction News. Please read below what she wrote...!
Construction News SAN ANTONIO – Lorraine M. Dailey started her own firm, LMD Architects, in 2000, and 16 years later, she enjoys her work, as well as mentoring high school and college students who want to enter the field.
At 52, she manages five people at work and is always looking for ways to help others, including herself, to be better. Currently, she is coordinating the relocation from LMD’s longtime home on 281 North in San Antonio to a 10-acre site farther north on 281, less than a mile south of Highway 46 in Bulverde.
Where are you from and where did you grow up?
I moved here when I was 7 years old. I’ve lived here the majority of my life. We moved here from Akron, OH, and I was born in Flagstaff, AZ. My mother was a schoolteacher, a reading specialist, and my biological father was a professor at Trinity University. He brought us to Texas. And my stepfather drove a cab.
When did you discover your interest in architecture?
Even as a young girl, I always wanted to be an architect. I used to draw dollhouses, and my stepdad would build them for me. I used to draw tree houses and do a materials takeoff of everything I would need to build the tree house. It was a passion of mine. I loved creating and creating spaces. When college time came, my biological father was a professor at Trinity University, so I had a faculty scholarship there, and I was strong in math skills so they tried to steer me in the engineering field, but after a year of Trinity, I realized I don’t want to calculate how much water is in the swimming pool; I want to design the swimming pool. Engineering was not my passion. Trinity did not have any architecture program, and they still don’t. Architecture is very specific. It’s five years of specific architecture studies. So, you have to start from day one in architecture and go all the way through. Then, I went to UTSA, because I knew I wanted to stay in San Antonio. I did the program and then became licensed. I did a five-year internship.
Where did you go after college?
Right out of college, it was the early ‘80s, and so there was a recession. I had three interviews. One of those interviews was an architect who specialized in criminal justice, architecture of facilities. So that’s how I started in criminal justice design. I worked for him, and then I formed a partnership with his son and one of the other firm architects, had that partnership for a number of years, and then I went out on my own in 2000, continuing to specialize in criminal justice and civic governmental projects.
What do you find interesting about designing those specific projects? What elements factor into it?
Criminal justice architecture is very unique because you’re designing for the public, but also, you’re designing a secure environment for the inmate or the detainee. You are able to be more creative and have more aesthetic options on the public side and the exterior. However, within the facility area, it’s very hardened, and there’s less creative aspects as far as the aesthetics; however, it is very detailed. I love the detail of all the codes – maybe that’s the math in me, but all of the codes, the locking systems, the security electronics, just always trying to make the facility more efficient, more secure and safer for the detainee as well as the staff. It’s always a challenge.
Tell me more about yourself.
I was married for 27 years, divorced almost five years ago. I have one daughter, Meghan. She’s 30. She’s in the Air Force, first lieutenant. She’s a blessing. We’re very close. We’re going to Ireland. First time going to Europe. It’s been on my bucket list, and we’re going at the end of this week. We’re going to hike and bike. I love doing outdoor activities. Anything outdoors, hiking, biking, kayaking. I love being on the water. I race dirt track cars. I’ve jumped out of planes. I like to be very active and really enjoy being out in nature and doing things that are active. Bicycle riding and motorcycle riding. I ride a Harley motorcycle. Horseback riding. I had two horses. I’ve lost both of them. Right now, work is very challenging, but when things slow down a little bit, I’m going to get another horse, raise him up from young.
Tell me more about your daughter.
My daughter went into the Air Force on a medical scholarship for pre-med, and she is moving toward the PA program, which is physician assistant. So, she was commissioned in the Air Force before medical school, did two-and-a-half years of med school, and then went up to Massachusetts to be in their space and radar program while she was working toward getting into the PA program. She’s very close to her promotion to captain. The PA program is here at Fort Sam, so I’m just thrilled. She won’t live with me, because I live a little more than an hour away. I’d love for her to come live at home again and be there for her while she goes through this next phase of her life, but it will be wonderful to have her back in San Antonio. She lives in Cape Cod, MA, and I have been spoiled rotten, getting to go up to the Cape. I’ve made several trips up there, and it’s been awesome. She’s the light of my life. She’s a great, wonderful kid.
Do you have any personal or professional goals you would like to share?
I am at the phase of my life that I recognize the importance of giving back to my profession and giving back to community, and my focus is less on, “I want to achieve more, more, more” as far as material things, and more on “I want to invest my life into the next generation of architects and just humanity in general.” I’m a Christian, so making my focus more on “How do I lead and manage with love, grace, mercy and compassion?” versus driving the whip. I was raised by a driven whip, and my first experience in the workplace was by a very hard master, and so I really was never taught the skills of how do you manage a workplace with grace and compassion while still, we have to be somewhat perfectionist as architects, because we cannot have errors in our documents. So I’m learning how to do that and trying to instill that in my employees and those that I mentor so that they have an opportunity to grow into a leadership position that values the people more than the product. And brings God’s wisdom and love into the workplace and into their career.
Talk to me about the mentoring you’re doing.
What I try to do is bring in high school students that are in the work-study program, so they can spend their part-time here in the office and especially those that are interested in architecture, because it gives them a hands-on “This is what architects do.” It is very different for them to come in and see what it really is, and then if it is still their passion, to instill in them the values of a workplace of integrity, but also a workplace that values people. And how do we do that? And how do you lead with excellence? How do you manage your time? And those types of things. I have one young lady here that started in high school, Gabi Aguilar, and she’s now in college in the architecture program and she’s been with me for several years. I also like to hire interns out of college that are going to start their career, ideally get them part-time while they’re still in school. Kristin Gabriel has been with me for four years almost all the way through college, and she’s been with me out of college a year-and-a-half now. She’s leaving to do her master’s program. It’s been a wonderful opportunity to train her in all aspects of architecture, take her out into the field.
What other ways do you like to give back and get involved?
I volunteer at CBC. Community Bible Church is my church. They just started a pilot church out at Borgfeld Road, which is a little closer to me. I’m toward Boerne. So, I volunteer there. I do the guest relations, set up and tear down at our new campus, and then I also volunteer as a care and support facilitator for evening classes, a small group study that shares books such as “Search for Significance” and “Hiding from Love” and those things that help us find out who we are in Christ. To live the abundant life that Christ came for us to have instead of trapped in the things that we are trapped in, like me – perfectionism has always been a huge struggle for me.
In what way?
Oh my goodness, everything just had to be perfect. All your value is tied up in how you perform, and it’s very hard for me to separate my work product from who I am and just be able to say, “This could have been better.” Because you can always do better. So, finding that place to stop – and I think a lot of architects have that.
Where do you stop? What’s good enough?
And then finding my value, me as a person. If I have a client disappointed about something or a contractor says, “This isn’t the way it should have been done,” I used to just take that as “There’s something wrong with me” versus “There’s so many ideas out there, and there’s a hundred ways to do anything, and everybody can have good feedback in how something is done, and it’s not a criticism of who you are, but it’s an opportunity to grow and learn more.” –mh