Mary Bledsoe, RID TX, IIDA, LEED AP ID&C, is the principal, design director at lauckgroup in Austin, Texas. She started off in high end retail design and has been in her role now for over a decade—and loves it.
BE sat down to talk to Bledsoe about her career and some projects she has been working on.
Building Envelope: How many years do you have in the profession?
Bledsoe: Close to 20!
Building Envelope: What is your work history in this field?
Bledsoe: I started my career in high end retail design, transitioning to corporate in the late nineties when I first joined lauckgroup. I have been a design director for well over a decade now and I love that role. It’s incredibly rewarding working with other designers to help them realize their vision; and from time to time I even take a lead role myself.
Building Envelope: Where did you go to school?
Bledsoe: University of Toronto and Atlanta College of Art.
Building Envelope: Did you have a specialization?
Bledsoe: Interiors at ACA.
Building Envelope: Do you approach architecture from an artistic or functional starting point? Are the two concepts exclusive?
Bledsoe: They are not exclusive at all. I believe they must be intertwined to create meaningful solutions for clients. In commercial design we are hired to be problem solvers so we must approach design from a functional standpoint. It’s the ability to also weave in inspiration and beauty that separates good design from great design.
Building Envelope: If any, who are your role models?
Bledsoe: There are so many people who have mentored me and contributed to my success and learning over the years, I count myself lucky to say it would be hard to name only a few. It’s a big transition when you become a mentor and see your mentors begin to retire—you find yourself looking for role models outside of your field which I think is healthy. I would say that now I try to learn from every person I encounter; but those I really admire stay true to their craft and keep a mindful balance between family, work and community.
Building Envelope: What projects, other than your own work, do you find inspiring?
Bledsoe: Outreach. Fine art. Both change lives for the better.
Building Envelope: How many buildings have you designed?
Bledsoe: I am pretty sure I lost count of the number of projects I have worked on by now. That sounds terrible but I could tell you details of each and every one!
Building Envelope: If you had to choose one to represent your work, what project would you choose?
Bledsoe: That is the most difficult question you have asked. It’s impossible to choose one but I’m very proud of the atrium renovation at Caris Life Sciences. It’s not the largest project or highest profile but it’s meaningful, representative of the client’s vision and was well executed, of course thanks also to the contributions of my teammates.
Building Envelope: What are your guiding principles when designing a structure?
Bledsoe: Be deliberate; create something useful, aesthetically meaningful and purposeful.
Building Envelope: If you could have any building to redesign—anywhere in the world—which would you like to address?
Bledsoe: I grew up overseas; much of my childhood was spent in the third world. Re-envisioning a facility that supports children’s success in a developing nation would be incredible.
Building Envelope: What types of products interest you?
Bledsoe: New ideas or fresh approaches on old ones; things that are technologically innovative and/or inherently crafted.
Building Envelope: What types of products in the wall and ceiling industry really interest you?
Bledsoe: While it’s not new idea it’s still incredibly relevant—wall and ceiling concepts where we can create flexible sustainable spaces that can evolve over time. I think the industry has made so much progress in providing solutions, but there is still so much work to do making those solutions economically accessible so that they can be realized on more projects, allowing real impact on end users.