Brien Graham, AIA, NOMA, is a senior project manager at LPA Design Studios in Dallas. He has been an AIA member since 2016, and currently serves on the TxA Board due to his role as an AIA Strategic Councilor. Learn more about Brien in the Q&A below!
What has been your involvement with AIA and TxA?
My involvement with the AIA and TxA has grown continuously over several years. My participation in the AIA Dallas Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) in 2017 was the catalyst that kickstarted my years of service. After completing the program, I was later vice-chair and then chair of ELP. Due to the consistency of my contributions during my involvement with ELP, I was selected as the chapter’s first-ever ELP Chair to serve on the AIA Dallas Board of Directors.
Leadership and equity in the architecture profession are the passion that drives my continued involvement. I have served in multiple capacities as a member of the AIA Dallas, including on the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Taskforce, the Website Taskforce, the Education Outreach Committee, the Membership Taskforce, and the Young Professionals Network. All of the initiatives I’ve participated in have been intended to make the chapter and profession more inviting to a broader group of people. My positions with TxA as a member, chair-elect, and subsequently chair of TxA’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Committee have furthered that aim. Now, as an AIA Strategic Council representative for Texas, I can contribute to the national conversation, extending the voice of Texas architects in continuation of TxA’s strategic priority for equitable representation within the built environment.
Lastly, I’m a graduate of the inaugural AIA Leadership Academy, a three-year program focused on growing as a leader within the firm, the profession, and the community. Forming relationships with other architects throughout the country has been beneficial in solidifying a network of peers to lean on and support each other as we aspire to more prominent roles and leadership responsibilities.
What is a professional accomplishment you are proud of?
Most recently, I’m proud of being selected as a recipient of the 2023 AIA Young Architects Award. Although the purpose of the initiatives and positions I have undertaken isn’t to receive recognition, it’s humbling to be acknowledged on a national level for the work that I’ve done. The award reassured me that my efforts are valuable and it’s motivation to continue pushing forward with the work ahead.
What advice would you give to someone starting their path in architecture?
For someone starting their path in architecture, I’d tell them always to remember their “why.” Architecture is a fulfilling profession, but just as in life, you will inevitably face obstacles and challenges. Remembering your “why” helps to provide a level setpoint to keep you grounded and focused on the end goal. You can change people’s lives with the spaces you create that affect how people live, work, and play. Always keep the end user in mind and remember why you’re doing this in the first place.
What is your dream project?
When I first decided to pursue architecture as a career at ten years old, my goal was to design schools and churches one day. Since I’ve been in this profession, I’ve had the opportunity to do both. So, it’s not necessarily a dream project I initially hoped for; it was a dream path. As I mentioned earlier, there are always bumps in the road, but seeing the smiles on kids’ faces as they walk into a new school or classroom and designing spaces that create an atmosphere that promotes spiritual connection has been a dream. Ultimately, it’s about designing spaces that inspire hope for a better future.
What aspect of the profession excites your the most?
The aspect of the profession that excites me the most is no two projects are the same. There is always variation with clients, projects, spaces, people, site constraints, context, etc. Every day, I get to practice architecture; it’s an opportunity to learn something new, hone my skills, and apply knowledge to a new challenge. Also, the opportunity to pour into the next generation and get them excited about spaces, buildings, and design continues to reinvigorate and push me forward.
What do you wish people knew about architects and architecture?
I wish people knew that when you think of who can be an architect, all it takes is a look in the mirror, and it could be you. Throughout my career, I’ve met numerous people who told me they wanted to be an architect when they were younger but didn’t pursue it, and my response is always, “Why?” Architecture is a viable profession that teaches critical thinking and helps to view a problem from various objective positions to determine the best solution. I hope that there’s a young person who reads this and remembers my words. YOU becoming an architect is necessary to make this profession better!
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.