We continue to expand the Paladino team with fresh talent and big ideas. Here, we’re proud to introduce Anya Fiechtl, a licensed architect and LEED AP with more than 14 years of experience in design and construction on a range of architectural projects. For most of her career, she’s focused on sustainability, promoting an integrative design process. Please join us in welcoming Anya, who will be based in our Seattle office.
Tell us about your background and what led you to Paladino.
I’ve always sought out meaningful work, so it feels like a natural fit to land at Paladino. Early in my architecture career, I stepped into a lead sustainability role at a large A/E firm in Montana. I helped them grow their green building capacity while immersing myself in LEED and sustainable design. Meanwhile, I participated in many local/regional initiatives and launched the USGBC Montana Chapter. I later decided to move to the Pacific Northwest where progressive design and sustainability are prevalent, and the ocean and mountains provide endless opportunities for outdoor adventures. After a couple of years at a prominent design firm in Seattle, I learned about this position at Paladino. I’m excited to align my passion for sustainability and my background in design and construction to support teams through decision making and implementation of sustainable design solutions.
Where do you find inspiration in your work?
I’m inspired by people who bring their expertise, passion, and creativity to the design table. I’m a believer in the potential of integrative design. When we gather around a common goal and leverage each other’s skills and knowledge, amazing things can happen! When implemented successfully, each team member feels a sense of ownership and pride in the work, along with professional and personal growth from their involvement in the project.
What direction do you think green building is headed? Where do you see the industry in ten years?
Forward-thinking owners and developers are starting to look beyond rating systems, setting aspirational goals like net-zero or net-positive energy, collecting and recycling water on site, and promoting occupant health through exceptional daylight and biophilic design. Every project presents unique opportunities and challenges, and project teams are poised to deliver innovative solutions that move beyond sustainability towards regenerative design.
We’re seeing examples of policies and programs that begin to incentivize a regenerative or community approach to design and construction. In Seattle, for example, the city has created the Living Building Pilot program, which encourages building projects to generate more energy than they use, and organizations like Salmon Safe are incentivizing projects that treat water runoff from beyond their site boundary. When we think about our impact at the ecosystem, watershed, energy network, or community level, we find opportunities to not just do less harm, but to improve the places in which our projects reside.
What role does sustainability play in your life outside work? What does it mean to you?
As a kid exploring the woods in Alaska, chopping firewood and hauling water, I learned to value resourcefulness, resilience, and creativity. In my adult life, I continue to explore the outdoors, usually climbing or skiing, and sometimes hiking, biking, or floating in some form or another. These are my favorite ways to connect with nature, and with other people. As such, I feel a sense of responsibility to honor and protect the wild places that I love. I’m just doing my small part every day in my personal life and at work, trying to be a positive influence on everyone I meet.
What is one positive impact you feel sustainability will support in the world?
I don’t know if we can move fast enough to curb global warming, but we have to try! I think that is the most important challenge of our lifetime. But sustainability means so much more than reducing our carbon footprint. It’s a mindset of caring about our environment and community. It encompasses health and wellness, environmental/social justice, resilient design, ecosystem and watershed interface, food security, transportation… the list goes on, and it’s all important. Ultimately sustainability means finding a way to coexist on this planet. As biomimicry asks us, what would nature do? Nature creates conditions conducive to life. If we embrace that mindset, the world will be a better place.
What do you do in your leisure time?
Aside from the outdoor activities I love, I enjoy music, dancing, art, gardening, designing/building things, good conversation and good food with friends, and trying new things. I value personal connection, wild places, and creativity, so anything that involves those is time well spent!
Tell us about something you are proud of.
While living in Montana, I joined the Red Feather Development group on several occasions to build straw bale homes for Native American families on the Hopi and Northern Cheyenne reservations. We camped on site with other volunteers and community members, working hard and learning about their beautiful culture. It was the most enriching and rewarding experience that allowed me to disconnect from the daily grind and reconnect with people and purpose. I also love the craft of building with natural materials and hope to design and build my own home someday.
Is there anything else that you’d like to know about Anya Fiechtl? Ask away in the comments!