Gabriela Orizondo Graduates from AIA Virginia Emerging Leaders in Architecture Program

Gaby Orizondo, Clark NexsenGabriela (Gaby) Orizondo, a designer in our Virginia Beach office, has graduated from the AIA Virginia Emerging Leaders in Architecture (ELA) program. The ELA, now in its twelfth year, is designed to accelerate the growth of emerging architects by providing the tools and experiences needed for career advancement. Architects who are further in their careers share the things they wished they had learned in architecture school. Each of the seven day-long-sessions focuses on developing essential skills including financial management, communication and negotiation, advocacy, and public service. Gaby joins fellow Clark Nexsen Virginia ELA graduates, Zakiya Toney, Ryan Oldach, and Ian Vaughn as an alumni member.

ELA asked each participant a few questions, and we added a couple of our own for her:

How did you discover your passion for architecture?
I have a vivid memory of watching a construction worker mix concrete, by hand, with a shovel. My mom was doing an addition to the back of our house and I was allowed to sit and watch all day as they created something out of nothing. As the worker laid each block, I just kept thinking, “This is real life Legos!” When the workers were done for the day, I went to my room and built two different Lego models to show my mom what the addition could look like. I didn’t know it then, but I guess you could say that was my first design presentation.

What project has been the most memorable for you so far?
I would have to say the competition for a memorial at William and Mary. It was a quick, fun, and very interesting project that gave me the opportunity to assemble and lead a team all the way to completion. Although we did not win the competition, I am still super proud of the team and what we were able to accomplish.

What have you been doing for fun during quarantine?
Baking – lots of baking – puzzles, biking, and going on walks when the weather is nice.

What was the last TV show you binge watched?
Ozark. I’m currently watching the Handmaid’s Tale.

What advice do you have for aspiring architects?
Being a ‘good’ sketcher does not mean you should be an architect, just like being a ‘bad’ sketcher does not mean you shouldn’t.

Read more about the Class of 2020 ELA participants.