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.
Tyler Ashworth, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP BD+C
Associate, Sustainable Design Manager
Tyler Ashworth served as the 2010-2011 national AIAS President and Chairman of the Board.
Tyler, an Associate in the Washington DC office of HKS Inc., serves the firm’s sustainable design consultancy (Design Green) as a Sustainable Design Manager. Tyler joined HKS as a Project Architect and helped lead technical design, engineering, and coordination efforts for the new $120 million spring training home of the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros MLB teams, the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Since joining Tyler has also helped to elevate sustainability firmwide leading an initiative for each office of the 1,600-person firm to develop sustainable design and operations plans. Most recently he spent the 2nd quarter of 2017 working in the U.K. with the HKS London team on the design of their new 130-person office in central London. The space is tracking both BREAAM and WELL Platinum certifications and aims to be a showcase architectural studio for HKS.
Outside of the office Tyler serves the Building Committee of the St. Thomas Parish Episcopal church in Dupont Circle, DC, which has just begun construction on a new urban worship home, a $10 million, 4 story church set to open in 2019. Tyler has also remained active in the professional community serving in multiple volunteer and leadership capacities for the 5 collaterals. He was a Scholar in the 2015-16 class of the AIA Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program. Tyler is also a marathon runner, most recently having finished the 2017 London Marathon running for the Children’s Tumor Foundation as one of their Top 10 Fundraisers for the race.
ARE Prep Tip: What is one piece of advice that you would give to those starting to test?
1. Life gets in the way fast, just get started! The sooner the better.
2. Surround yourself with a support network of friends and coworkers at different phases in the process as well – seek advice and push one another.
3. Lastly – don’t compare yourself to others or the passing rates – you might pass them all in 1 attempt, it might take you 3 times to pass an exam as it did for me. If you falter along the way, pick yourself up, make a plan, and keep going.
How did your experience with AIAS help you to achieve your goals?
Most AIAS Officers won’t tell you this, but it is a unique challenge to graduate from a structured academic environment and move into a position of leadership in which you set your own schedule and daily agenda. The two biggest challenges I faced during my time as AIAS President were managing my time and managing myself; coincidentally these were the two areas I experienced the most personal growth. My time as President allowed me to work independently, set a vision and goals – and work towards executing them. It allowed me to team
My time as President allowed me to work independently, set a vision and goals – and work towards executing them. It allowed me to team build, to mentor other young leaders, forced me to learn to debate and compromise, and to take risks and own the outcome whether successful or not.
These are all skill sets I use in my job now, they have helped get me where I am. The opportunity to develop them early are what gave me a competitive edge and helped me achieve some early successes.
What and/or who shaped you into who you are and what you do today?
Every one of us has so many influences in our lives, parents always playing such a large role. And while I owe my character and success to a lot of individuals (parents included) – the most understated, underappreciated, undervalued, and certainly underpaid of the influencers in our society today are our teachers. I owe so much of who I am to the numerous K-12 teachers and university professors of whom I was a student. Teachers instill in us a sense of intellectual curiosity. They drive us to become critical thinkers. We need to place more value on education and our educators in our country. It was a high school drafting and architecture teacher at a public school that helped me discover the career I am a part of today. The Arts and technical education programs in our public schools feed creative and diverse professions that are vital to a complex and thriving society.
How have you overcome unforeseen challenges through your career?
Through a network of close friends and mentors. Overcoming challenges and advancing in your career takes just as much dedication as getting your day to day work done. I can’t possibly count the number of sit-downs, phone calls, happy hours, networking events, etc. at which I have had conversations around my current work or projects and my aspirations. The advice and perspective I bring back from these is always invaluable. It could be a unique perspective I didn’t see before or the knowledge that AIA has a compensation survey that I can use in my next salary negotiation. It might be information about a new job opening or simply knowing that someone else is facing the same struggles that I am. The challenges you face won’t overcome themselves, and your employer will only help you advance your career as far as you are willing to work for it.
How do you define work-life balance and how is it achievable?
Work-life balance is not the elusive unicorn we believe it be. It does however look quite a bit different than how we dream it to be. The fallacy is that there exists a life centered around a 9-5 job complete with flexible hours, perfectly timed deadlines, an abundance of vacation time, and family and friends that don’t demand our time. We dream it, but we know it doesn’t really exist. Life is too complicated. Our society is too complex. I find that work-life balance is achievable when you look at a longer timeline. Work demands, family demands, life demands – these things all ebb and flow. There are times when we will be overworked and tired, and there are times when work will be light and easygoing. The right employer should recognize this and you should be able to have a conversation with your boss and team about what works best for everyone involved. With open communication, planning, and knowing how to manage stress in healthy ways, work-life balance is absolutely achievable.
I find that work-life balance is achievable when you look at a longer timeline. Work demands, family demands, life demands – these things all ebb and flow. There are times when we will be overworked and tired, and there are times when work will be light and easygoing. The right employer should recognize this and you should be able to have a conversation with your boss and team about what works best for everyone involved. With open communication, planning, and knowing how to manage stress in healthy ways, work-life balance is absolutely achievable.
What is a decision or action you made in school that influenced your trajectory?
I hadn’t given this thought until now, but I could easily trace where I am now back to one action…
In 2010, just a month away from finishing my thesis design project for my Master’s degree, I participated in a NAAB Accreditation visit at another school. I could have easily backed out of the visit at the last minute with how hectic my last semester had already been and how much final design work lay ahead of me. However as crazy as it was, I went on the visit anyhow – I took the time to read the material and prepare, traveled and missed 3-4 days of class and valuable studio time. In the end, I completed both the visit and my thesis project successfully. That visit was the first of many that I have now served and was my gateway to later serving as a Director on the NAAB Board. During this time, I became better acquainted with another NAAB Board member, Shannon Kraus (another AIAS legacy), who wound up hiring me to work at HKS and is now my boss.
What you could easily conclude here is that had I never gone on that visit, I wouldn’t be in the job I am today. But I think the real lesson here is this… it is in the moments in which we really push ourselves beyond our means and far outside of our comfort zones that we truly define ourselves and achieve our greatest successes. For me, it was that last year of school – serving as a Quad director, completing thesis, running for national AIAS President, planning a Quad conference, serving a NAAB visit, working on our chapter’s Freedom by Design project – literally saying yes to everything and overfilling my plate, shaped me and put me on the trajectory I am on today. I continue to find those moments every few years and live for those moments that I emerge on the other side of a busy year knowing that I am better for all the ways I pushed myself.
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.