Blakely C. Dunn ('85)
"Don't expect to be given anything worthwhile. Plan out your career path and position yourself to achieve it. Own your path."
Title: President/CADM Architecture, Inc., and President & Chair of the Board/National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB)
Hometown: El Dorado, Ark.
Now resides in: El Dorado
Degree: B.A., architecture
Tell us how you got into the architect business: Growing up I had always thought I wanted to be an aerospace engineer...I guess that was a natural result of a childhood in the 60s: wanting to be an astronaut! When I was 17, I was fortunate enough to spend half of my summer in Switzerland traveling. One afternoon I was in the courtyard of an incredible ancient castle on the shore of Lake Geneva and vividly remember thinking about whomever had laid out the design of that structure was still affecting people 1,000 years later. It was at that moment I made the decision to become an architect.
What brought you to Tech? I considered attending the University of Arkansas but found the program at Tech to be more suited to my preferences. I liked the faculty and the balance between theory and "reality" in its curriculum. Being close to home was a definite plus as well!
Your advice to Tech freshmen today: Don't expect to be given anything worthwhile. Plan out your career path and position yourself to achieve it. Own your path.
How did Tech prepare you for your career and, in general, life after college? I think the rigor of the program very well prepared me for the rigors of such a challenging profession. Architecture teaches you how to analyze a problem and develop an appropriate solution; that's a useful skill in almost every aspect of life.
Advice you'd give to any Tech student considering a career in architecture: Be willing to work long hours after other programs' students have finished for the day or the week and are out having fun at night and on weekends. That was as hard on me and my classmates as anything. Studying architecture will require some sacrifices that others don't have to make, but in the end it was worth it. It's incredibly rewarding to see people affected by something that was first in your mind. Not many professions allow that.
Talk about your heroes of the craft, and also about how you describe your architectural style: There have been so many wonderful architects dating back to antiquity. I guess those I appreciate the most in the modern era are probably Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier. I would describe our work as contextualistic and regional; we believe a building should respect its context and it environment: it should look like it belongs where it is. We can't take design elements from our projects in Florida and use them in Wisconsin: that wouldn't make any sense.