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Bachelor of Architecture 1995 and Bachelor of Arts in Architecture 1991
USA -based architect Sophie Piesse believes there is nothing better than helping people create their dream homes.
'I enjoy helping people create delightful places to live and watching them see the transformation from ordinary to extraordinary. It is also an important part of my role as an architect to show my clients that sustainable is not a sacrifice but an amazing asset when designing buildings,' she said.
After graduating from Deakin with Bachelor Degrees in Architecture and Arts in Architecture, Sophie quickly rose through the architectural ranks and was made a partner within five years at Giles Blunden Architect, PA based in Carrboro, North Carolina.
'I met Giles Blunden while I was in the USA studying. I then returned to Australia to complete my second degree whilst I applied for a work visa. As soon as I finished in Australia I went back to North Carolina as Giles' intern. It was a small firm where there was only three of us working there. Interns often leave companies once they register however Giles wanted me to stay on and I became an owner/partner of the firm.'
Sophie explains that she has experienced many career highlights since her move to Carrboro.
'Over the last few years, I have had some great career highlights including getting published in Inspired House in 2003 which is an American house design magazine by a major publishing company, Taunton Press; getting on the cover of Great Kitchens magazine recently; and three of my renovations will be included in an upcoming book by Sarah Susanka entitled Remodelling Not So Big which is due out in 2008. However, starting up my own business has been the biggest highlight for me so far,' she said.
During her architecture studies at Deakin, Sophie was given the chance to undertake an overseas study placement at North Carolina State University in the USA as part of the Deakin Study Abroad program. Little did Sophie realise it at the time but this was a sign of things to come with her eventual return to the USA to live and work permanently.
'I worked with various architecture firms in Australia during my studies and for the year before my study abroad stint, however I really enjoyed the North Carolina experience as a student and decided I wanted to return to work there one day. I eventually made the move in 1998 with my husband and we settled and built our own house in Carrboro. Eventually the opportunity arose for me to start my own business, Sophie Piesse Architect, PA at the beginning of 2006.
'I practice independently so I do everything from job development and marketing, to site visits and construction supervision. I work closely with clients from site analysis and concept development, through to design development and computer modelling, construction drawings, contract negotiation, finish selections, site walk-throughs and punch lists.
'Throughout the project I educate clients as to how to make their project more environmentally sensitive, from good day-lighting to off-the-grid construction. I have houses that are Energy Star rated and I designed one recently that is currently going for a Healthy-Built Homes qualification - these are the environmental rating systems we have in North Carolina,' she said.
'I think the best point of difference with my firm is that I take a team approach, by including the client, builder and subcontractors early in the process with my clients to make building and renovating homes an enjoyable and rewarding experience for all concerned whilst ensuring the designs are sustainable.'
Sophie credits Deakin in helping her to fulfil her dreams of becoming a successful architect, and also for her move to the USA.
'Deakin is a great University and it gave me a lot of opportunities including studying overseas - which is how I ended up in North Carolina. The course helped my career development because it was so practical and brought out in me an ability to push the envelope. It helped me to really develop my skills and explore my different areas of interest. I enjoyed the use of technology in the course (before computers were a necessity) and taking part in real life team projects in design school. This all helped prepare me well for getting out in the working world.
'I studied at Waurn Ponds in the days before the Waterfront Campus renovation was completed but I would have loved to have studied in downtown Geelong - that would have been great!' she said.
As for the future, Sophie explained that her immediate focus would be to grow her new business and 'help people realise the impact they can make on their lives and the environment through good design and sustainable architecture.'
For more information about Sophie's work visit the Sophie Piesse Architect website .