Ian Flood After Ten Years with MWA

| | Read time: 4 mins

A project architect in our Portland housing studio, Ian Flood has been with MWA for ten years. A valued member of the team, he can always be relied on to give good design advice, facilitate good conversation on his project teams, and cares about the people he designs for. For more about Ian, continue reading…

What are a couple of projects that you have worked on most recently? 

Affordable housing projects Van Vista Plaza and Renaissance Commons (pictured below)

“I appreciate working with Ian because he can always take a step back and remind us of the bigger picture or give a different perspective. He’s calm under pressure and rarely gets caught up in the drama of architecture. He also keeps things light with his under-the-radar sense of humor…”

Taryn Wheeler, fellow Associate

What phase of a project is your favorite? Why? 

Schematic Design. It is when the challenge is exploratory. I typically ride projects from start to finish so I also try to take lessons learned from the prior job into the next. Pay-it-forward type of thing so that on every job I’m growing. 

How has your job changed in the last few years? 

I find myself in more meetings. I try to mentor more but that is tough in COVID. Establishing personal connections and trust really is big [for mentor and mentee]. There is something inherently unnatural to me about doing that through a screen. I am also convinced that to mentor, you need to go get coffee or beers with someone and laugh together. That is also really awkward during COVID. It is more, but at the same time, we need to acknowledge that it can be tough. This might sound funny, but I find myself finding answers more. I used to depend on a lot of great mentorship within the office (and I still do) to find obscure knowledge and architectural facts.  

I guess you could say management has taken the training wheels off. 

“Over the years, Ian has shown great aptitude for guiding and teaching younger staff. We appreciate his honesty, in coaching other staff, in his approach to his work, and in his interactions with clients. He is always open and receptive, learning from his clients and project partners on each project he is involved in.”

Bill Lanning, Principal

How do you maintain work/life balance? 

Is this a trick question? I have an 8-year-old at home who makes guest appearances in zoom meetings. You could say at our house we embrace chaos. On a small scale, we try to go for family walks every evening and I find that relaxing. I put away my cellphone and we just walk and talk, and talk with neighbors and look at the lovely gardens people have. Sometimes we count bugs or take blackberries when no one is looking.

What do you hope to do more of in the next few years?

I hope to really impact design in a positive way and want to widen the way I think about design. I want to make a person with a great idea step forward and watch it come to life. If it is a good idea, I’ll detail it and try and make it better that way. I want to tell a client that they should build more dense social housing in the city. I also want to push our office toward deep green work. I believe sustainability is really the legacy of our industry. The buildings and communities last, yes, but do you lessen the footprint those buildings make?   

What is the next career goal that you would like to tackle?  

I would like to push our housing clients to more hybrid programs. Is it a homeless shelter in a wing of multi-family housing? Is it a medical clinic and coffee shop anchoring a five-over-one 200-unit apartment? Can we introduce the Arts and Intergenerational Living into Social Housing? Can we get a building with outdoor multilevel circulation? 

I would like to ask a client to do a Pro-forma that builds in 10 years of cost to cover solar.  I need to learn more about how finances work in order to understand all of the above. I think I’ll always ask because I’m inquisitive by nature. Some would say we shouldn’t ask the client to change, we should change to fill their needs. I still want to facilitate a dialog otherwise why are we here, ya know? I would not want to live in a world where no one questions me, I hope our developer and contractor friends feel the same. 

When you started your career, why did you want to become an architect?  

I was pretty good at drawing and then I went to Barcelona and fell in love with buildings. That’s it.