A Book to Inspire the Next Generation of Designers
These fictional girls have come to life thanks to DLR Group’s Personal Development Grant, where I was given the opportunity of both time and resources to create a children’s book about the architectural design process. I wanted to do this because I think it’s important for kids to see themselves reflected in the heroes they read about, and there are so few opportunities for girls to see themselves as architect-heroes.
The book, Little Designers: Sea of Dreams, focuses on Kit, an aspiring young architect who embarks on an ambitious project to help an underwater community solve their problem of how to get a better night’s rest below a noisy pod of whales. She collaborates with a team of diverse designers and engineers who use their unique perspectives to create a successful project.
I’ll admit, the mermaid motif is a bait-and-switch to get kids, like my own 5-year-old girls who judge books by their covers, to engage with topics that might be unfamiliar to them. I also wanted to infuse more magic into the building industry to generate some of the awe that astronauts get.
I started out with the idea to write a story about an architect who isn’t perfect and doesn’t know everything but is open to criticism and learning new things from her teammates. The characters are intentionally different. Yemaya was inspired by a well-traveled mythological water spirit who originated in present-day Nigeria. Sedna is named after the goddess of the sea and marine animals in Inuit mythology. Coral has a mechanical tail, and Kit has legs. None of this diversity contributes to the conflict of the story or creates barriers between the characters. Diversity is the unsung hero and isn’t even recognized in the text. Even the word “mermaid” is irrelevant and never once used.
As an architect writing a children’s book, I can identify with Kit being a fish out of water – or rather the opposite. I found inspiration, support, and feedback through podcasts, professional editors, and a large swath of my DLR Group colleagues. It likely helped that I have an old degree in creative writing from before I pivoted to architecture. The grant provided funding for me to hire an Illustrator. Mika Rane was my first choice because I was already familiar with her work and thought her illustrations were as joyful as I hoped the story would be. We learned a lot from each other through our open-minded collaboration!
When Women’s history Month 2022 is over, and you find yourself thinking about the future, look for this book to help inspire the next generation of problem solvers. Profits will go towards a scholarship fund for female architecture students.
If you’d like to share Kit’s story with a special child in your life, you can purchase a copy online.
To receive ideas like this directly to your inbox, subscribe to our email list.
In the Spotlight
American Artist Appreciation Month
Arte Noir: A Home to Honor the Black Creative Community
Arte Noir, a local non-profit dedicated to showcasing Black art, artists, and culture, expanded to a storefront in Seattle's Central District.
The Renwick Revisited
Across from the White House, DLR Group x Accidentally Wes Anderson explores the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery, sharing the story and design updates of, “the American Louvre.”
Protecting the Symbol of the City: Preserving Portlandia
A well known symbol of Portland, the Portlandia sculpture required special considerations during our reconstruction of the Portland Building.
Teaching Digital to Physical: Geometry Games
Associate Matt Conway led University of Southern California students to take fantastical structures out of the computer and into our Los Angeles office.
Bringing Project Stories to Iconic Graphic Status
Associate Jovaney Hollingsworth brings our creative process full circle: from concept to the built product to styled drawings, we celebrate integrated design and the ways it connects us all.
In the Details: Women's History at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts
The 1876 Landmark Building at PAFA is one of the finest examples of late Victorian architecture, but its principles were progressive.
Designing for Healing in the World of Behavioral Health
David Frum, Healthcare Leader, examines design selections that behavioral health facilities can include to promote wellness and the process of recovery.
A Seamless Balance: Sustainability and Luxury in Hospitality
Join Middle East Hospitality Director Henrique Dias, Intl. Assoc. AIA, at the Hotel & Hospitality Expo Saudi Arabia for a panel diving into how we create harmonious and environmentally conscious hospitality experiences.
Jackie Eckhardt to Present at 2023 Design-Build Conference & Expo
Jackie Eckhardt to present a session titled “Decisions That Stick: How to Support Defensible Decision-Making” at 2023 Design-Build Conference & Expo.
The Intersection of Art and Design
The interplay between art and design has yielded some of humanity's most captivating works. Hear from designers on why the two can make such an impact.
From Client to Educational Learning Designer: Q&A with Dr. Tim Shimp
Having worked in nearly every facet of the K-12 education system, Dr. Tim Shimp is using his practical experience to revolutionize the learning experience.
A Likely Pairing
We’re rewinding to the beginning of our partnership with Accidentally Wes Anderson. Sitting down with creator Wally Koval, we discuss how we see the world differently through our intersection of distinctive design and unexpected narrative.
2023 A4LE LearningSCAPES
Hear our design professionals present during three separate sessions at this year’s A4LE LearningSCAPES. Topics include a research-backed case study of the 2022 James D. MacConnell award finalist; a new approach to applied learning; and a look into facilities planning through an equity lens.
Telling Immersive Stories Through Augmented Reality
We are pursuing an innovative and engaging approach to storytelling at the museum level, one that immerses visitors in a narrative using augmented reality.