We welcomed Designer Sondra Rogal to our work family in June and are excited to have her on board! We put Sondra in the interview hot seat to learn more about how she came to RODE, how working from home is going, and what her dream design job would be...
What drew you to the firm?
About 3 years ago, the School of Architecture at NC State curated a showcase of student, faculty, and alumni work to present for accreditation renewal. I volunteered to help pin up the alumni boards and actually ended up hanging RODE’s submission of the Glenville Residences – I was really drawn to the design and then I saw they were from Boston, so I always remembered the name. The more I looked into RODE later, too, I recognized a lot of community-centric values in their work that I am hoping to fulfill in my own - so fast forward a few years, and here I am. Fate? Maybe.
You are an alumni of NC State like our fearless leaders, Kevin and Eric. What is one thing you learned in college that you will implement in your position with RODE?
How do I choose just one? Well, I guess I’ll say courage. NC State’s architecture program puts a lot of emphasis on thinking outside of the box and having the courage to try new things – even if they fail. I’ve always been a big rule-follower by nature, and I’ve been learning (through a lot of practice) to be more adventurous and take bigger risks. I want to continue that trend here at RODE and be cognizant about leaving my comfort zone behind.
You’ve been with RODE for only a few days. What challenge have your run into working from home so far, and how will you deal with that challenge?
I would say the isolation is the most challenging part. It is difficult for me to gauge how well I am adjusting and how efficiently I am working without the busy office environment around me. I also learn the most from (politely) eavesdropping and observing other people work, so the quiet is tough, too. Fortunately, I am learning to reach out to my coworkers more and facilitate conversations about my work to simulate the office setting.
What would be your dream project to design? What is one element that you would incorporate into that design to make it unique?
Without a doubt, my dream is to design a performing arts theater or even a set for a Broadway show. I grew up performing in plays and musicals, so I have firsthand the experience as both an actor and audience member. I am not sure yet what will make it unique, but I have always been interested in acoustics, so maybe something with that!
Besides working at RODE, what do you do for fun? And is there a new activity or hobby you have honed while being under quarantine?
I probably have the most fun when I am painting! For the past few years, I have done mostly calligraphy and typography, creating custom menus and signs for local businesses, friends, and family. And during quarantine, I haven’t been too adventurous – after five really intense years of school, I’ve chosen to relax, spend time with my family, and read new books!
If you hadn’t gone into architecture, what other profession would you have wanted to do and what made you choose architecture?
It’s really hard to imagine my life without architecture in it, but if I had to choose, I’d probably be a teacher. I like the potential it has to make tangible impacts on peoples’ lives and improve communities from within. And that is pretty much the same reason I chose architecture, too – for the opportunity to create space that enhances peoples’ connections to each other and to their environment.