Early in the semester, Michael Heacock, a LEED certified Architect hailing from Mill Valley, California, spoke to our class about his meandering path into architecture and his strategies and focus within the field. Mr. Heacock is an eco-designer focusing on sustainability and energy efficiency use within his designs. He works in a broad scale, from designing residential homes, schools, and business oriented structures, consulting on LEED certified building, retrofitting, and coaching, even dabbling in furniture design. While he operates from his own firm now, it wasn’t always so, and his course to arrive in his position was experimental and roving.
Mr. Heacock explored various career options before he settled on architecture, unsure if the field was the right fit. Comparing himself to what he knew as a “standard” in architecture, he felt a bit like an outsider until he found his niche. In the course of his visit, he expressed the importance of diversifying one’s skill set; a young designer should broaden their knowledge base by experimenting with many fields of design. From lighting to framing and construction, to interiors, a well versed designer makes him or herself irreplaceable as an asset within a firm.
The message that was most emphasized to me by Michael Heacock is that a designer sets himself up for success by maintaining diversity of thought and concept during the design process and also in knowledge of aspects of design. The benefits of keeping an open mind when seeking solutions and having experiences within the field is irrefutable. Pigeon holing oneself into a bounded design style limits ones ability to exercise creativity. As designers, we are hired to bring ideas to the table and work through the options to find the best solution. A multitude of possible solutions allows for a well rounded design result that is truly the best that it can be.