The American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) is celebrating the 60th anniversary of student excellence in leadership, service, and design. In honor of our 60th year, the AIAS is excited to share 60th: Legacy, an ongoing weekly celebration of and thanks to our alumni sponsored by Professional Publications, Inc (PPI). PPI is a publisher of professional licensing exam materials since 1975 and wants to recognize those who have helped the AIAS achieve 60 years of success.
Beau Frail, AIA, NCARB
Beau Frail Architecture
Beau Frail, AIA, is a licensed architect in Texas passionate about social impact design and working with communities to design equitably and inclusively. Beau also has experience managing complex adaptive-reuse projects in the City of Austin, including the design and construction of The Renner Project and The Refinery. Beau serves on the Texas Society of Architects’ Board of Directors and on the AIA National Associates Committee as the Regional Associate Director for Texas. He has served as the chair of the DesignVoice committee at AIA Austin, where he helped lead public interest design charrettes for local nonprofits and developed outreach programs with the City of Austin promoting affordable housing. Beau’s civic engagement also includes serving as a Design Commissioner at the City of Austin and as a founding member of the Open Architecture Collaborative Austin chapter. Beau was honored with the 2017 Association for Community Design Fellowship and the 2016 Associates Award from AIA. He earned his Bachelor of Design in Architecture from the University of Florida and his Master of Architecture from the University of Texas at Austin.
ARE Prep Tip: What is one piece of advice that you would give to those starting to test?
I completed my last exam earlier this year and became a licensed architect right before my 30th birthday! It was a welcomed addition to the celebration. My advice for those looking for the motivation to start testing– just schedule your first exam for a month or two out and I promise that will light the fire under you! Alternatively, for those who are aiming to “take one exam every other month and finish in a year” that’s a great goal, but remember to be kind enough to yourself and allow the space and time for recharge. Also, don’t beat yourself up if you need more time to prepare for or retake an exam.
What and/or who shaped you into who you are and what you do today?
My greatest influences have been from the positive role models and environments I’ve been blessed to experience. One example is from my first internship, which was with Julia Starr Sanford of Starr Sanford Design in Jacksonville, Florida. Julia mentored and developed in me a responsibility for our places and natural resources along with an appreciation for aesthetics. Even after I moved to Texas, Julia and I have stayed in contact across the years and she is always an uplifting and encouraging voice that has reverberated throughout my career. I am thankful for her formative and continued impact on my practice.
What is one tip you would give yourself in your 20s?
Dear younger Beau. Don’t be afraid to advocate for what will help you grow as an architect and person. You can’t assume opportunities will be offered to you without asking for them and making your ambitions and intentions known. Also, really dig deep to determine if the things you think you want are actually what’s best for you and your growth. You may surprise yourself!
How have you overcome unforeseen challenges through your career?
Challenges are opportunities for your growth. I’m a firm believer that while we can’t control our circumstances, we can control how we react to them. When I was let go from a job that I had given a great deal of my time and energy to, I was left feeling shocked, devalued, and despondent. Rather than see this as an unfortunate circumstance that was happening to me, I adjusted my perspective and saw it as an opportunity to grow into a better place. An interesting and relatable fact is that Frank Lloyd Wright was fired from Sullivan’s office at the beginning of his career!
How do you define work-life balance and how is it achievable?
Architects are notorious for working long hours, while in school and their professional careers, on top of also volunteering their precious free time to professional organizations and their communities. Balance to me isn’t necessarily about having it all at the same time, but enjoying the natural ebb and flow of when things can be best appreciated. Making sure you have clearly defined priorities and boundaries will also ensure your values align with your lifestyle.
What is a decision or action you made in school that influenced your trajectory?
While studying architecture at the University of Florida, I decided to apply for a vacant position in our Student Senate, which led to me serving there for three years and eventually becoming the chair of a committee. That experience within university level politics influenced me in a profoundly different way than what I was exposed to in architecture school. I learned the art of communication, negotiation, compromise and debate that has served me as I’ve grown into leadership positions within architecture offices, professional organizations like the AIA, and most recently as a citizen commissioner at the City of Austin.