Dawn Hart graduated from Wisconsin University with a Master’s in Architecture but her love for architectural design dates back to when she was a young girl.
She remembers being 10-years-old and using the fallen autumn leaves to create floor plans outside. Even the time she spent playing with Barbies incorporated floor plans and design layouts.
“I played with Barbie dolls just like all girls that age,” says Hart. “But mine was more about Barbie’s house than it was about Barbie and her fashion.”
Her passion for architecture became a career in the summer of 1987 at a Phoenix architectural firm called Architectural Interiors. Hart stayed with the firm as it was bought and sold a few times until leaving in 2012. She worked with tenants, landlords and contractors to ensure the process of designing to getting the plans permitted through the city process. Eventually she was promoted from designer to project manager.
She attributes her career success to the hardworking values that her parents instilled in her growing up. “I’m a Midwestern, German-Scottish, girl,” says Hart. “I’ve always had family and friends who work really hard so I guess working hard is part of my DNA. It’s who I am.”
After parting ways with her firm of 26 years, Hart says she reached out to Gensler’s managing director Beth Harmon-Vaughan because she had always aspired to work there. Since being hired, Hart says she enjoys the collaboration at Gensler and feels it’s like a big family. “There’s always been a big focus on the people and that was one thing that really attracted me to Gensler,” she added.
Looking back at her career, Hart says the industry has evolved a lot. “Nowadays architecture is not the sort of master architecture position that it once was 50 years ago. We all have expertise and everybody has a role to play,” says Hart. “It’s very much a collaboration and team effort today.”
That collaboration and team atmosphere is one of her favorite parts of the job. Hart says the next logical step in her career is to become an office director or director of a studio. But she adds, “I don’t think I ever want to move to far away from being in projects because I do really enjoy the client interaction and the team interaction.”