Shahnaz Talukder, AIA, is a project manager at Parkhill in Frisco. She has been an AIA member since 2010. Recently, she was the artist of our 2023 Architects Day poster. Learn more about Shahnaz in the Q&A below!
What has been your involvement with AIA and TxA?
I have been an active member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the Texas Society of Architects (TxA) since 2010. My passion for sketching is not only a hobby, but has also enhanced my professional career. Being a part of the AIA and TxA has allowed me to showcase my talent for sketching and provided me with opportunities to connect with other professionals in the field and contribute to the architectural community. Through my involvement, I have showcased the value of sketching in architecture and its significance in capturing the essence of a building or space.
One of my notable contributions to TxA was a commemorative sketch of the Texas State Capitol building that was presented as a biennial gift to legislators. I believe it displayed the beauty of the Texas Capitol and recognizes the importance of architecture in the state’s history.
In addition to my involvement with TxA, I was an active member of the AIA Mid-Missouri chapter. I served as a member of the Board of Directors for the chapter and contributed to various initiatives and programs aimed at advancing the field of architecture in the region.
I have also been consistently involved in many community activities, including serving as the Chair of the Committee on the Environment (COTE) for the U.S. Green Building Council – West Texas Chapter. Through my participation in COTE, I have promoted sustainable and environmentally responsible design practices in the region and educated the community about the importance of sustainability in architecture.
What is a professional accomplishment you are proud of?
As an architect for The Element Hotel located in Irving, Texas, I am proud to have been a part of the team that brought this project to life. This hotel is an exceptional example of modern design and sustainable architecture.
The Element Hotel project presented a unique set of challenges that required our team to utilize our skills, creativity, and expertise to deliver an exceptional product. We collaborated closely with the client to ensure that their vision for the hotel was understood and the surrounding community’s needs were met.
One of the project’s primary objectives was to create a sustainable and energy-efficient building. Our team had to incorporate various energy-saving features such as efficient lighting, heating and cooling systems, and solar panels. These design elements ensured the hotel was environmentally friendly and cost-efficient for the client.
Another significant aspect of the project was the design of the interior spaces. We created a welcoming environment that combined modern aesthetics with a warm and inviting feel. Using natural materials and neutral colors, we designed an atmosphere of relaxation and comfort for the guests.
As the architect of the project, I was responsible for coordinating with the entire project team, including engineers, contractors, and builders. My role was to ensure that the design vision was executed as flawlessly as possible and that the project was delivered within the given timeline and budget. Being part of the project team that brought The Element Hotel to life was an incredible experience. The project allowed me to showcase my skills as an architect and collaborate with an exceptional team of professionals. The completed hotel is not only a beautiful example of modern architecture, but it also serves as a testament to the importance of sustainable design.
How did you become interested in the architecture profession?
I was first introduced to the world of architecture in fifth grade when I met with one of my friend’s older brothers, who was studying to become an architect. He shared his passion for design and the built environment with his sister during a monthly parent’s meeting day. I was immediately captivated by the possibilities of this field.
From that moment on, I was determined to learn more about architecture and design. I spent countless hours researching and reading about the subject and was always eager to learn from anyone with experience in the field.
However, despite my fascination with architecture, I faced challenges in pursuing this interest due to my family’s lack of familiarity with the profession. My father was skeptical of my desire to become an architect and urged me to consider other career paths.
Despite these challenges, I was determined to follow my passion. I worked hard to gain admission to an architecture program and later became a licensed architect. Throughout my journey, I received support from my family, my husband, and my son, who encouraged me to pursue my dreams and provided emotional and practical assistance along the way.
Today, I am known for my innovative designs and commitment to advancing the profession. My story is an encouraging reminder of the importance of following one’s passions and pursuing one’s dreams, even in the face of adversity or obstacles.
“Architects not only design buildings, but they also play a critical role in addressing social and environmental issues to create a more sustainable, physically healthy, inclusive, and equitable world.”
Share something about yourself that others may not know.
As an architect, I openly share my passion for creating spaces that enhance people’s lives. I also have a deep love for travel and exploring new places. When I’m not working on my latest design project, I often plan my next adventure, whether backpacking through the mountains or exploring a new city. Being exposed to new cultures and ways of thinking feeds my soul and inspires me to be a better architect.
For me, traveling is not just about the experience of seeing new places; I also have a strong desire to give back to the communities I visit. That’s why I enjoy volunteering my time and skills with non-profit organizations that focus on building sustainable structures for communities in need. Whether designing a new community center or helping to build a school, I find it deeply rewarding to use my architectural skills to positively impact the world.
My love for travel and helping others through non-profit work is a big part of who I am, making me a more empathetic and well-rounded architect.
What is your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of being an architect is taking an idea and turning it into a tangible structure that enhances people’s lives. I love the challenge of taking a client’s vision and translating it into a functional and beautiful space that meets their needs and exceeds their expectations.
A sense of satisfaction comes with seeing a project come to life from start to finish. From the initial sketches to the final walk-through, every step of the design and construction process is filled with excitement and collaboration with clients, contractors, and fellow architects.
As an architect, I also enjoy the creative aspect of my work. Each project is a unique opportunity to explore new design ideas and push boundaries, whether through innovative materials or unique spatial configurations.
Through Parkhill, I fulfill my passion for non-profit projects. Across Texas, projects I have worked on, such as the XO Marriage Center in Southlake, Bonton Wellness Center in Dallas, and West Texas Food Bank in Midland-Odessa, continue to positively impact the communities these organizations serve.
My approach to these projects involves thoroughly researching the organization’s goals and how they help the community. The design team then incorporates these ideas into space planning and building design, ensuring that the final product is aligned with the organization’s values and mission.
I enjoy the challenge of balancing the functional requirements of the space with the organization’s broader mission and values. This aspect could involve incorporating sustainable design elements or creating facilities that are accessible and engaging for the community.
Whether I’m creating a space that brings people together or designing a building that improves a community’s infrastructure, I feel privileged to use my skills and creativity to enhance the built environment and improve people’s quality of life.
What surprised you about the architecture profession?
The architecture profession is often associated with designing buildings and spaces, but there is a surprising factor that many people may not be aware of — architects play a vital role in addressing social and environmental issues.
Architects are trained to think critically and creatively and to approach problems with a holistic perspective. This skill set enables architects to tackle complex issues such as climate change, social inequality, and access to affordable housing. Architects design affordable housing and community centers that address social and economic inequality and work to make buildings and spaces more accessible for people with disabilities.
In collaboration with other professionals such as engineers, contractors, and community leaders, architects can ensure that their projects are designed and constructed in an environmentally and socially responsible way. One example is energy-efficient buildings and spaces that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote renewable energy sources. This multidisciplinary approach helps to create sustainable and resilient communities that meet the needs of all residents.
Overall, the architecture profession offers a surprising factor — architects not only design buildings, but they also play a critical role in addressing social and environmental issues to create a more sustainable, physically healthy, inclusive, and equitable world.
This post is a part of our “Member Spotlight” series, which highlights TxA members who are making amazing contributions to the architectural community. If you know a TxA member who exemplifies our mission of supporting the creation of safe, beautiful, sustainable environments, you can nominate them to be featured here.