When Glen Berry, FAIA-NCARB was 17 years old, he decided that he was going to be an architect. He didn’t know what that meant or how it would have been, but Berry knew that was his future.
Today, 48 years later and with more than three decades of experience in the field, he reflects on his educational experience at the U and the College of Architecture + Planning.
“My mother was an artist, an art educator, and I learned from her how to draw at a very young age,” he recalls. “The notion of architecture, which incorporates drawing as a form of communication, was always very intriguing to me. I studied art and design at BYU, then pursued my master’s in architecture at the U. A remarkable place with top faculty that I still admire and respect.”
A specialized designer
After so many years, Berry considers himself first a designer, then an architect who got specialized in laboratories.
“My path started with a letter I sent to the firm FFKR,” he said. “They had just received the commission to design the Eccles Howard Hughes Medical Institute Research Center at the University of Utah, and I got a job as an intern for three weeks. They wanted me to build a full-scale model of a lab.”
But the architectural hourly student position became more. He had the opportunity to show the model to the scientists, get their feedback, and make all the changes. After that, he received a full-time offer.
“After the second period, they said, ‘okay, we’re starting schematic design and we want you to be the lab guy on our team. When the end of the summer came around, it was time to go back to school, but I made a hard decision. I paused my master’s, but I knew I would come back.”
The following year Berry was going back to school.
“I went back immersed in the design of a “$20 million biomedical research center, and an amazing experience, and using all my experience to complete my thesis. I graduated with a great job in a middle of a recession.”
An opportunity to adapt
Berry has witnessed how the profession is constantly changing because of new technologies and how there is now a lot more to design than just physical design.
“In my current role, a big part of what we do is designing for people. A lot of what we do is understanding how people work and interact,” he says. “We look at issues like equity and diversity in all forms and how the design contributes to that. We look at sustainability. The other challenge now is the technology and how quickly everything changes. I have been able to address that challenge by returning to my fundamental skill of drawing.”
Berry advises students and young professionals to cultivate those fundamental skills that helped him to adapt.
“I am one of the few people who actually know how to draw, and that has set me apart,” he says. “At work, teams ask me to show my freehand drawing as a form of communication, as a form of ideation.”
📸 Berry (center) receiving the FAIA medal at The University Club in Chicago, June 24, 2022 from Francis Halsband, FAIA, College of Fellows, Executive Committee; and Raymond “Skipper” Post, FAIA, 56th chancellor of the College of Fellows.