Today’s guest is Leah Bayer. Leah was not a child who was interested in building with Legos, and when she reached high school age, she didn’t have a grand plan to sign up for architecture school. She was interested in physics and art, and also took an elective course in architectural drafting. While she was taking that course, her school got a grant for a 3D printer, and her design for a dream house was used for the school’s first 3D printing.
Leah explains that her physics teacher suggested that she read The Fountainhead after seeing one of her sketches and that something about the book clicked for her. She also took an aptitude test in high school, and her results suggested a career in architecture. Leah decided to go with it and applied to California Polytechnic State University’s architecture program.
Leah originally planned to double major in architecture and engineering, despite warnings from advisers that this would be too much work to handle. It turned out that it was too much, and four years into the program, Leah dropped out without graduating. She returned to Washington to take a break and think about what she wanted to do in the future. During this time, she took art classes, learned to program, and discovered biomimicry. This prompted her to return to school to complete her architecture degree, although she abandoned the engineering major. Leah describes her unusual thesis project: a graphic novel about a biomechanical multi-generational sentient starship with a symbiotic relationship to its passengers.
While she worked on her thesis, Leah also took a job as a receptionist for a physical therapy office that was on its way out of business. Because the business was going under anyway, the therapists allowed her to try some new business strategies and organizations, and her ideas ended up turning the business around. This is when Leah discovered that she had a talent for business and managing practices.
After graduating, Leah looked for ways to incorporate her interests in biomechanics and business into the architecture field, which eventually led to her starting her own business. Listen to the interview to hear about Leah’s business plan, her company structure and staff, and what kinds of things she’s working on now.
What You’ll Hear on This Episode
How Leah got interested in architecture
Why Leah left architecture school before graduating
What Leah did with her time out of school
What prompted Leah to go back to architecture school
Leah’s thesis project
How Leah got interested in business management and strategy
How Leah began finding her place in the architecture world
Why Leah first applied to be an office manager at an architecture firm
Why Leah decided to get her testing done quickly
How Leah got started in her own firm
Leah’s business plan
Why Leah set up her business as a social purpose corporation
Who Leah has working on her staff
Leah’s advice for aspiring architects
What Leah knows now that she didn’t know then
The book that changed everything for Leah
The resource that Leah can’t live without
Leah’s best timesaving trick
How listeners can connect with Leah
Top 3 Takeaways from This Episode
1. It’s important to follow the threads that interest you.
2. Careers in architecture don’t all look the same or follow the same trajectory.
3. You can combine seemingly unrelated interests into the field of architecture.
Leah Bayer’s Advice for Aspiring Architects
“I think the biggest advice that I have is to seriously dive deep into those threads that really make you feel like you’re on fire. And they don’t have to be something that makes sense, they don’t even have to be something related to architecture but listen to that and cultivate that because you don’t know where it’s going to take you.”
“There are so many options.” Leah Bayer on what she knows today that she didn’t know back then
“Reading that book while I was at my lowest low and didn’t know what to do with myself and understanding something about myself or something about the possibility of the future through Janine Benyus’ work was probably the most pivotal read so far in my life.” –Leah Bayer on the book that changed everything, Biomimicry
“Now that I’m digital, I don’t really have a lot of things anymore. It’s all in the virtual world.” Leah Bayer on the resource she can’t live without
“In order to better use my time, I am a very strict and obsessive user of the program One Note.” – Leah Bayer on her best timesaving trick