The Right Dynamic: Utako Tanebe on Speaking up and Keeping an Eye on the Bigger Picture
Utako Tanebe is an architect and designer at DLR Group and based in our Cleveland office. Born in Tokyo, she has lived in several cities and countries including Bangkok, Toronto, Vancouver, Boston and Cleveland. Utako is currently the project architect for the Samson Pavilion, Cleveland’s new health education campus for the Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University, seeing the project through from design to construction, including spending two years on site working closely with the construction team and owners.
In an interview with Madame Architect, Tanebe answers a multitude of questions regarding her path to architecture, current projects, career aspirations, and more.
MA: What advice do you have for those who are just starting their career in architecture?
UT: Stay curious and inspired. You must find something that excites or motivates you within every task, however mundane it may be, and make it yours to conquer. If you do it well, you can prove to yourself that you’re ready for the next step and a new challenge. Often young designers fear that they will be pigeon-holed into a task at the office, but once other architects see that you have a fire within to take on more roles, they will be more than happy to support your growth as an architect.
Also, speak up! Shortly after I started working, another young designer told me, “You have to speak up for yourself because no one else is going to do it for you,” which was a critical but sound advice that I still carry with me today. If you feel that you can be effective in a new role or that you’re ready for the next challenge, it’s your job as a professional to communicate this to your senior or project manager. With every experience gained, technical knowledge honed, and decision-making skills mastered, your voice will become stronger and stronger.