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.
Brian Fontaine, AIA, LEED AP BD+C
Brian is an architect at Bergmeyer Associates in Boston, MA where his focus has been on Commercial, Higher Education and Workplace architecture and interior design projects over the last four years. Brian is known for bringing a lot of positive energy to his design teams and is passionate about infusing sustainable design principles into all of his projects. Outside of his role as an architect, he takes pride in giving back to his community and serves on his firm’s social responsibility team, coordinating volunteer opportunities throughout the year. He also serves on the planning committee for KidsBuild!, an annual event put on by the BSA Foundation where kids in the community are able to gain some hands on exposure to the design, construction and regulatory processes.
ARE Prep Tip: What is one piece of advice that you would give to those starting to test?
I completed the ARE last year, and the approach I took was to stay focused on reaching short term goals. These exams are challenging and it can be easy to get discouraged when you think about the big picture too much, especially early on in the process.
How did your experience with AIAS help you to achieve your goals?
I joined my college’s AIAS Chapter as a freshman and had a great experience being a part of it. During the earlier years of being a part of AIAS helped me to make connections with upperclassmen in my program who provided mentorship which helped me to successfully navigate my way through architecture school. Being a part of AIAS inspired me to become more active in my local AIA chapter where I have continued to make more connections with like-minded professionals in my community.
What and/or who shaped you into who you are and what you do today?
My parents are my biggest influence. They own a flower shop and greenhouses and are the hardest working people I know. Growing up in that environment instilled in me a strong work ethic, a love for learning, and the determination to always try my best. They have also always encouraged me to pursue my dreams and to never settle anything less.
How have you overcome unforeseen challenges through your career?
Graduating from college in 2010 was an eye opening experience as the recession took a big hit on our industry. I’ve learned since then, that most firms in my area had to cut their staffs in half (or more) during that time, which made landing my first job much more challenging than I had anticipated. I did all sorts of odd jobs between college and getting my first architecture job, but I have known that I wanted to be an architect since I was five years old and nothing was going to stop me from getting there. My persistence paid off and thanks to relocating to a new city, help and encouragement from family and friends, and my determination, I got my first job in the field and the rest is history!
How do you define work-life balance and how is it achievable?
I see work-life balance as the ability to perform your job effectively, while still maintaining a healthy and happy personal life, which, in this field can be challenging as architects tend to be very passionate about their work. For me, it’s important to have a clear separation between work and home. Work stays at work and usually does not come home with me (unless I know there’s a big nor’easter coming). It’s not always that black and white, but keeping that mindset has been helpful to maintain that balance.
What is a decision or action you made in school that influenced your trajectory?
Studying abroad had a significant influence on me. My experiences, the people I met, the professors I learned from have played a big part in how I think about design today, particularly the importance of creating architecture that is responsive to context, people, and place.
If you, or another AIAS alumni you know, deserves recognition for their contribution to the profession and society at large, please use the link below to nominate them for this honor.