Principal, Q4 Architects Inc
Sector: Private Sector
Magic Moment: July 19th, 2004. The day I opened the doors of my own architecture practice. At that point I had been working in architectural firms for 25 years, but this was my initiative, my firm, I owned its future successes or failures. I was very excited, and a little bit afraid. I had somehow persuaded 11 incredibly talented people to join me. Many of them are still with me as we have grown the firm to 60 people in three cities. The energy that day was electric.
Key Influence: My father, Francis J. Martin. Architecture is in my DNA. It runs in the family, from my grandfather and uncle to my great-grandfather. But the person who influenced me most was my own father, he was not an architect, he was a craftsman with a great love of art, music – classical and jazz – and architecture. He taught me how all of those intersect, but most of all he taught me the value of work done well.
MaryJane Dekort. I came to know MaryJane during her many years at Mattamy Homes. At Mattamy she went from sales to lead their marketing department and eventually became executive vice president of the home building company. As architect to Mattamy I worked directly with MaryJane and Peter Gilgan as Mattamy grew to become the largest homebuilder in Canada. MaryJane’s children were grown then, and my children were still young, she never minded the interruptions as I tried to be both a mother and an architect. She gave me a lot of valuable advice over the years but most importantly she was an excellent role model in the great value of building strong teams and in mentoring young women and working mothers.
Next Big Challenge As An Industry: Access to safe, clean, and adequate housing is a basic human right. It is not a privilege. And it cannot be only for the privileged – particularly in a country as wealthy as Canada. So many in our region are under-housed or neglected, in overcrowded “warehouses”, with unsafe drinking water, in apartments infested with mold, or living below ground in poorly ventilated basement apartments. People yearn to buy their first home but are out bid by a market that favours investors. We must understand the value of giving everyone a voice in solving our housing crisis. At Q4A we are listening to people, we are listening to our clients, and we are looking for changes in our work that will create real solutions.
Secret Talent: Numbers. I have an uncanny ability to do rapid mental math, or to draw to scale without a scale, or to gauge room sizes without a tape measure.
On Championing Others… I designed Q4 Architects as a firm where everyone can thrive. Rather than making women choose between family or career, I promote a flexible work environment where no two solutions are the same. Mothers can help chart their own course to help find balance between work and the home. We encourage skills upgrading and professional development by offering all employees opportunities to pursue further education.
One word that captures you: Invested. I have an unbridled interest in people and how they live.