Following her Baltimore upbringing and a 10-year stint in Philadelphia, architectural designer Alyssa Stein is making herself at home in Seattle. While visiting during a ‘Bike & Build’ cycling trip around the Olympic Peninsula in 2015, she quickly became smitten with the mountains, small towns, and roadside espresso stands. Last year she decided to move across the country. At ZGF, Alyssa is part of a large team working on the Seattle Children’s Building Care expansion. She’s currently designing a clinic within the hospital to provide care for children and young adults with cancer and blood disorders.
We sat down with Alyssa to learn more about her path to architecture and how she’s liking her new home.
When did you realize you wanted to work in architecture? As a student at a high school for the fine arts, I spent much of my time experimenting with installation art and photography. A recurring subject of my work was the relationship between manmade and natural environments. After submitting my work to an international arts competition, I was selected to represent the United States at an exhibition in London’s Tate Modern. This experience and my interest in shaping the built environment ultimately led me to study architecture.
How does living in the Pacific Northwest inspire you? I find inspiration in Seattle’s waterside parks—which is practically all of them! I recently started making observational drawings as a way to interact with these landscapes. I’ll walk around until I find a spot with a curious natural feature or quality of light and then record it in charcoal. This is a drawing of the rocky shoreline along the Elliott Bay Trail (right).
Coffee or tea? Dark coffee.
If you could design for a fictional character, who would it be? Steve Zissou.
Favorite tool of the trade? Trace paper.
What was the last podcast you listened to? Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations.
Do you have any hobbies outside of the office? Hiking, cycling, and kayaking are the repeat offenders.
What is the best advice you have ever received? Pare down to the essential, but don’t remove the poetry.