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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

KS Q&A: Danielle Snyder: A Unique Perspective from Both Sides of Building & Design

To kick off our first installment of KS Q&A, we spoke with Danielle Snyder, a former drafter at a successful architectural firm and current estimator with KaneSterling Architectural Products.

Danielle Snyder
Danielle provided some great feedback and observations regarding her experiences thus far within the AEC industry, including the parallels and differences between architectural firms and building product manufacturers/suppliers.

What was your job title/function at the architectural firm?  What is your job title/function now?
At the architectural firm, I was a CAD/BIM drafter.  At KaneSterling, I work in Sales/Estimating.
How did your position in the architectural world prepare you for a sales position with an architectural metal product fabricator?
Due to my architectural background, it's very easy for me to understand ideas that the designers or architects are trying to convey in their building design(s). I'm able to see from both sides why something was drawn in a certain way and how they conceptualized it. 
How much did you know about architecture before you became involved in this profession?  Did you have anything in your life that inspired you to get into the field? (i.e. a teacher, a family member, a class you took?)
From a very early age, I have always been interested in construction and buildings. I can remember as early as 3rd grade doodling buildings for hours on end. I've also always been great with math and numbers. I always said that if I wasn't involved in construction, that I would want to be an accountant. After I went back to school for an accounting certificate, the construction estimating seemed like a natural fit. 
What are some aspects of building products that you think architects might be in the dark about, or unaware of?  What do you wish you could tell them? 
As building products and design concepts are constantly changing and evolving, designers and architects often rely on manufacturer’s reps to keep them up-to-date on the latest innovations in products. 
I have been frequently asked how the designers I worked with would decide on what products to use. There is no iron clad answer. We would often use the products that we were most familiar with, perhaps used on a recent project or from a presentation that we attended.
What are the most exciting aspects of your current position?
I like that the job keeps me on my toes. There is always something new to learn, and a variety of perspectives to consider when looking at a project.  I love a challenge and this job is very rewarding.
What was your favorite part about working around architects on a daily basis?
Architects truly are unique individuals who have to take many factors of building and design into consideration. The job really is taking someone else’s needs and ideas (the building owner) and translating it into a workable design. Oftentimes, there are so many changes along the way, that the end product might not even reflect the original concept. 
What are some fundamental differences between working with architects and working with architects/contractors in the building products industry?  
  1. Architects typically see the overall vision for the project, whereas manufacturers understand what will and will not work with their individual products. 
  2. Architects and GC’s often specialize in certain building types (residential, schools, healthcare) however, a building product such as railing, can be used in many applications and construction types. 
What are the some similarities (see above for full question)? 
  1. Everybody wants to keep the project under budget
  2. People’s safety is always the largest concern for all parties involved.
Based on your experience, you seem to gravitate toward design/architecture, construction, and the building industry in general.  What is it you like most about this type of work?  
I love that construction is something that is very concrete and real. 
Design has rules. There are things that will work and that absolutely won’t work. There are always ways to push the boundaries, but the basic laws of physics never change. 
What are some challenges you have faced along the way in either position? 
When I first began my career in this industry, I was in my early 20s... and back then, people always assumed that I was the secretary. Now the issue I have is that many assume that I'm a male when communicating electronically.  I am referred to as "Daniel" and“Mister" on a near-weekly basis!  I don't mind, though.  Preconceived notions of who I am and/or my capabilities are often what drive me to succeed. 
Will you continue working in this field for the duration of your career? 
Definitely. I love buildings, design and construction. My ultimate goal is to someday become a specification writer.  
For more information on architectural products CLICK HERE.
To locate an architect for your project, visit the AIA HERE

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