By the AAJ Communications Committee
How do you like to spend your free time?
EL: Seattle has the best options for relaxing after a long day or week. Typically a walker, I explore different routes around the city and hopefully find a small trek in a more natural setting on the weekends. I recently purchased a remote cabin in the North Cascades, so I’m planning projects and hikes around the area for a summer out in nature.
Where did you go to college?
EL: I was an undergraduate at Washington University in St. Louis, and graduate at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, (mainly to find an excuse to play in New York City before career life set in).
What degrees did you earn?
EL: Bachelor of Arts in Architecture, Minor in Photography, Master of Architecture.
When did you first know that you wanted to be an architect?
EL: In my first years of high school, beginner art taught me I have an eye to formulate designs, patterns and concept regardless of my lack of talent as an artist. Sophomore year Geometry taught me the logic and process of creating perfect shapes with math to complement these patterns and I was immediately sold. Wash U had a junior year summer Architecture Discovery Program, and I realized the classes and discussions were a stimulating path through college.
What firm do you work for and how long have you been with your current firm?
EL: I have worked for 12 years in the Northwest region of DLR Group, based out of Seattle. I took a hiatus for graduate school and working abroad, but returned in 2007 surprised and pleased with the growth and opportunity that developed within the company.
What is your role within your firm?
EL: I am a Senior Associate specializing in Justice and Civic work with a focus on detention and courts and act as either the project manager or project architect depending on the scale and complexity of the project.
How did you become involved in the Justice Market?
EL: In 2007, my managing principal was looking to develop a larger core team in the justice and civic studio with young, entrepreneurial project architects. With no one being developed in the studio, I saw the opportunity to be a leader to my peers, and understood this responsibility had the potential to grow into a more specialized and focused project type. With the diversity of projects centered around the concepts, I dedicated my development to this specialty.
What was the first justice project that you worked on?
EL: Deer Ridge Correctional Institute in Madras, OR with ODOC as a team captain in 2002. The project went on hold during the recession, and was finalized in 2006. Returning to DLR Group, I started my specialty in the studio in 2008 with the SCORE Jail in Des Moines, WA and Bledsoe County Correctional Complex in Tennessee.
What projects have you worked on?
EL: The significant, personal projects I have worked on are the Everett Municipal Court, Everett, WA; Calaveras Court, San Andreas, CA; Bledsoe County Correctional Complex, Crossville, TN; SCORE Jail, Des Moines, WA; and the Oregon Youth Authority MacLaren Housing Units Woodburn, OR.
What project have you found to be the most rewarding and why?
EL: The direct transformation the Everett Municipal Court brought to the the community was the most rewarding project I led. They had hoveled in a derelict building for many years to the point of overflowing storage, contentious staff environments, and unsafe courtrooms. Within a restrictive budget, the new court building overcame many obstacles of schedule, budget, and constructability to become a gateway to the city, and answering the true impact of a court on a community. The staff and judges value their day and experience they have on the community. The public have respected and protected the building from the common disregard that had made the old building fall apart.
What has surprised you most about working in the justice architecture field?
EL: The passion and intensity of the other leaders in the design community for these facilities has allowed me to grow and thrive. Design leadership strive to solve the jurisdictions’ problems, engaging everyone on the project. This specialty is leading true architectural design, solving significant problems with teams of people from all different interest groups.
What prompted you to begin working within the field of Justice Architecture?
EL: Originally it was opportunity to stand out amongst a large peer group because I am not a competitive person for project leadership. Quickly I was drawn to the diversity of projects and the opportunity to actually change human lives in a direct and influential manner.
What motivates you to continue working in this specialty market?
EL: The deep issues have owners turning to us on issues of mental health and facility programs. At a loss of what to do, they see the problem solving nature of architects being their team mate to work through it. The solution is complex and drives at the core of social solutions, and the more I participate, the more entwined I feel in the issue.
What do you find most challenging about working in the justice architecture field?
EL: It is discouraging to see the outside perception that architects and owners desire to make more bad facilities. With our owners, we are trying to correct the issues of the existing infrastructure, but are construed as desiring more incarceration or intimidation from the courts institutions. Without new infrastructure, the past methodologies will persist and continue to break down the society.
The future of the justice market:
How do you see the role of the justice architect evolving over the next several years?
EL: The justice architect and planner is going to develop into a knowledge leader and problem solver to address the societal problem, and the built environment will more easily conceptualize buildings that answer this problem. I do see Justice architects “working themselves out of business” by minimizing the size of buildings, but will create the concept and theory that will shape justice architecture to meet the new needs / normal.
What do you hope to contribute the Justice Market?
EL: I hope to bring understanding from owners, team members, and the public into these project types. I want a new wave of young, passionate architects to take up the reins and bring new theories to the forefront. I want the public to experience these buildings of all governmental typologies (court, police, detention, military) and see a reflection or pride of themselves.
What do you see as the biggest issues or challenges facing justice architects and/or planners today?
EL: Redefining mental health in facilities across the spectrum of justice and civic projects will change the industry of government agencies and architecture. Ensuring that strong, well thought out plans are instituted and not overlooked by budgets and schedule is imperative. When the projects arise, architects and planners need to have the time, support, and relationship with the owners to fully vet and develop the ideas, because for the jurisdiction, this may be the final opportunity to make a lasting change on their public. Additionally, if misguided approaches are incurred, they will create set backs to the opportunities formalizing through the research and development. This is the opportunity to make change, and we are ready and anxious, and ready to take on this initiative.
Ms. Erica Loynd is an expert in the design of justice facilities, including corrections and detention centers, courts, and public safety buildings. Her design approach centers on conversation with the owner and client to fully understand their goals, needs, and the expectations of stakeholders. She understands this is especially important in public projects that frequently incur close scrutiny from community members who demand sound decision-making in how public funds are invested.
Erica is particularly passionate about sustainability. She focuses on unifying all team members to explore design options that take advantage of passive opportunities in orientation, envelope, daylighting, natural ventilation, and material choices – strategies that are the essence of sustainability, and which significantly reduce reliance on mechanical and electrical systems.
(Return to the cover of the 2016 AAJ Journal Q1 issue)