Arts in Architecture with Sarah Killingsworth

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Sarah Killingsworth 

Sarah Killingsworth says that her interest in architecture grew out of an interest in art. She remembers always being a creative and artsy child who was privileged to be able to participate in a number of fine arts while growing up.  

Sarah got the idea of going to architecture school early on, but when it was time to go to college, she got cold feet. She was concerned that her science and math skills weren’t strong enough to handle a career in architecture, so instead, she began pursuing a career in fine arts. However, she soon realized that she wasn’t being challenged the way that she wanted, so she made the switch to studying architecture at the University of Houston.   

During her time in architecture school, Sarah knew that she needed to make connections with other people, and that led her to join the AIAS. She ended up serving as an officer for four of the five years that she was there. She says that the organization not only helped her make professional connections, it also taught soft skills that aren’t typically part of the architecture school curriculum. 

In today’s interview, Sarah also talks about where her career went after architecture school. She discusses working in an organization that focuses on K-12 public education buildings, and how that work connects to the communities that she works in. Sarah also talks about the architecture licensing exams and the challenges and biases inherent in them. Listen in to the episode to hear Sarah talk about educating and encouraging young architects, licensing exams, and what Sarah would like to see changed in architecture culture.   

What You’ll Hear on This Episode  

  • What put Sarah on the path to a career in architecture 
  • How perfectionism affected Sarah’s choice of major in college 
  • How Sarah decided to change her major and go into architecture school 
  • Sarah’s architecture school experience 
  • Why Sarah joined AIA 
  • Sarah’s AIA experience 
  • What happened after Sarah graduated from school 
  • Why Sarah likes working in public education architecture 
  • Sarah’s architect exams 
  • The biases of the ARE process 
  • Changes Sarah would like to see in architecture culture 
  • Sarah’s hobbies and personal life 
  • Sarah’s advice for aspiring architects 
  • What Sarah knows now that she didn’t know then 
  • The book that changed everything for Sarah 
  • Sarah’s favorite product 
  • Sarah’s favorite timesaving trick 
  • How listeners can find Sarah 

Top 3 Takeaways from This Episode 

  1. Working in education connects you to your community. 
  2. Biases in licensing exams can weed out people who would otherwise contribute a lot to the field. 
  3. Taking time for self-care is important, even when you’re busy. 

Sarah Killingsworth’s Advice for Aspiring Architects  

“First is to focus on being a problem-solver rather than a designer. I think that’s important not just for college students, but also high school, middle school, and elementary students. The goal of architecture, the way to succeed in architecture, is not just being a good artist, but to be a good problem solver. And art can be a problem that you solve with a solution that is a work of art or a design piece. But focus on that, instead of just being creative.”  

Favorite Quotes 

“One thing I didn’t really realize, and that I’ve come to grips with, is that art and architecture are a business now.”  – Sarah Killingsworth on what she knows today that she didn’t know back then 

“The one book I always say is like the turning point for me when I realized oh, I really love architecture, is Home, A Short History of an Idea, by Witold Rybczynski” Sarah Killingsworth on the book that changed everything 

“I’m going to go off the beaten path and say it’s a product, and I’m trying to better about this myself, but facial toner.” – Sarah Killingsworth on the resource she can’t live without 

“Sticky notes are the most valuable invention that was ever invented.” – Sarah Killingsworth on her best timesaving trick 

Resources Mentioned in the Show: 

Sarah on LinkedIn 
University of Houston 
Home, A Short History of an Idea 


Michael Riscica

Michael Riscica is a Licensed Architect, and the creator of Young Architect, an online platform and community dedicated to helping the next generation of Architects become the most successful generation of Architects. 
Connect: Linkedin / Facebook / Instagram

Hi there!

I’m Michael Riscica, the guy behind Young Architect. I write to help Architecture students, ARE Candidates and Young Architecture Professionals be more successful at school, work and life!


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