Conferences & EventsNational Convention
About Sheri Andrews, AIA: In her fourteen years of professional practice, Ms. Andrews has successfully executed a wide range of projects. As an Associate at Valerio Dewalt Train Associates, Sheri has been at the forefront of a project to expand and renovate the historic campus of the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. She has also completed a large renovation project for the Shedd Aquarium Oceanarium and managed a roll out of branches for Harris Bank. Her philanthropic endeavors include an active and dedicated membership with CREW Chicago including the CREW Careers and Scholarship Committees.
Sheri, you were among the first to register for both the 2012 and 2013 AIA National Conventions. What benefits do you find in registering early?
Each year, I look forward to the professional discovery that comes with participating in the convention and experiencing the host city. Registering early offers me a chance to schedule the learning sessions and tours that I know I want to attend before they reach capacity.
Additionally, I want to make sure I have extra time to explore the city and its neighborhoods. With D.C. last year and Denver this year, there is so much to discover once the sessions have wrapped up.
What are some of the education seminars, events, or tours that you’re particularly interested in attending in Denver? Why?
The list of keynote speakers for the convention is impressive, and those sessions should be fantastic. Cameron Sinclair’s message is inspiring, and I’m looking forward to his keynote.
Typically, I try to schedule a tour somehow related to a current project interest or project type. My experience in developing new exhibits for the Shedd Aquarium meant that the tours of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science Expansion (ET118a) and the Denver Zoo’s Toyota Elephant Passage Exhibit tours (ET207) caught my eye immediately. Seminars on master planning and Net-Zero buildings will foster my ongoing interest in sustainable building practices.
In addition, as a member of the presentation team for a session on Friday at 6 p.m. regarding the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, I’ll have the opportunity to share my recent work with my colleagues.
Attendees tell us that they come to convention for the education, the networking opportunities, and learning about new products in the expo hall. Why do you attend?
I enjoy attending the convention for several reasons that, combined, recharge my passion for architecture and the architectural community.
The learning sessions and tours remind me that, as an industry, we continue to challenge ourselves and move innovative yet responsible design forward. I have made great new friends and reconnected with old classmates through the networking opportunities—my circle of friends and colleagues continues to grow each year.
Finally, the expo hall provides an amazing resource to learn more about products and information that I am researching for current or future projects.
Your project portfolio includes very large projects, such as the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools renovation and expansion, but also small retail projects. How do the rewards of the large projects compare to those of the small projects?
The roll out of Harris Bank branch locations were based on a brand identity- driven prototype developed by our office. Each site presented its own challenges for schedule, cost, and design adjustments that offered specific rewards for each site.
The Laboratory School project provided a great opportunity for us to truly understand the experience of being a student at Lab, the teaching philosophy of the school and how best to create architecture that enhances students’ learning and at the same time solves functional issues.
Being exposed to the inner workings of projects that are different sizes and project types present fresh challenges that are constant in creating any type of high quality architecture, and that keep me growing as a professional.
My experiences with both projects have rewarded me equally as I better understand the entire process in maintaining the design intent and managing cost implications from design to construction.
You’re an active member of CREW Chicago, an organization dedicated to advancing the success of women in commercial real estate, including those in the architecture profession. What steps could a woman in the current graduating class of architects take to best support success in her career?
I remain curious about the profession and how architecture weaves through our daily lives. Become part of an organization that truly interests you. While there are some immediate benefits to joining an architecturally-related organization, it is not required. In the end, your best guide will be your passion for your profession. It is a continual process that takes time so try not to get frustrated.
Finally, April 7–13 is National Architecture Week, an AIA initiative to increase public awareness of the profession. If you could reinforce one message about architecture with the public, what would it be?
Well-designed buildings and public spaces are the cornerstone of our society. From historic masterpieces to the next generation of innovative buildings, we need to support and foster the architectural community.
FR408 The University of Chicago Laboratory Schools Future of Education
Friday, June 21, 2013
Sheri Andrews, AIA
Valerio Dewalt Train Associates,
500 North Dearborn, Floor 9
Chicago, IL 60654
Valerio Dewalt Train is a 55 person national architectural and design practice with offices in Chicago, Illinois and Palo Alto, California. Since 1994, the firm has based its practice on the simple idea that whatever the question, design is the answer.