Alexia Bazinet’s perspective on architecture was influenced by her surroundings growing up in French Canada. We took a moment over our morning coffee to discuss these design inspirations and her experience immigrating to North Carolina as a non-English speaker.
What inspired you to go into architecture?
I’ve always had an innate interest in the built environment around me. It started when I was little and living in Montreal—I found the city buildings so intriguing, subconsciously studying how people interacted with them. In elementary school, we visited Old Quebec City which further ignited my passion for architecture. I was absolutely fascinated by its European feel. It’s still one of my favorite places to visit.
What have been some highlights or favorite moments along your architecture journey?
Back when I was in elementary school, my friends and I would build “leaf houses” which were just floor plans made of fallen leaves we collected. Our creations would oftentimes be demolished by the next day’s recess but we would always rebuild them or create new ones. It was just play, but it makes me think I was always meant to be part of this industry.
As far as professional highlights, I’m currently working on my largest project yet. It’s a Duke Energy project for the Town of Holly Springs with a series of three buildings, totaling more than 90,000 square feet. I’m very proud of the work Alyssa [Dohler, AIA, GGP] and I have done in a short period of time.
I’ve also started my path to licensure, which is a huge, scary step but it’s one of the most important in my career.
Have you faced any adversity or road blocks along the way, and how did you overcome it?
Not specifically related to architecture. But when I first moved to North Carolina, I spoke only French. I didn’t even know the English alphabet. I could say, “yes,” “no,” and “toaster” and that was it. It was difficult interacting with other people who spoke English—I did a lot of hand gestures to describe what I was trying to say. With the help of my mom and the school librarian, I started reading picture books in English and gradually moved my way up to novels. Between that and being immersed in an English school, I was bilingual within a few months.
What do you think are important aspects of architecture that impact the community?
I think it’s so important to approach design through sustainable practices in order to protect our ecosystems and reduce climate impacts through improving the built environment. Also, listening to feedback from the citizens of the community you are building in is just as important as the client’s input because you want to ensure that the end users are happy with the result.
As an emerging professional, is there any advice you would give to current architecture students as they embark on their careers?
Documenting your process is crucial in order to learn from it—what worked and didn’t work, what you could have improved upon, so next time you can create a better design.
Lastly, and most importantly, what is your favorite coffee order?