WLC Feature: Kathleen Gillette, Architect
Kathleen Gillette, Architect
The profession of architecture doesn’t toss the term “Architect” around loosely. The title is only earned after years and years of school, work experience, and rigorous testing. So when one of the WLC family achieves the title it’s something to be celebrated for sure. Kathleen Gillette is WLC’s newest licensed Architect and her accomplishment is exciting to us for more reasons than one.
First, Kathleen adds to the growing list of licensed women on staff. Second (and really quite awesome) is that Kathleen is a graduate of Ruben Ayala High School in Chino Hills, CA. This will mark the first time in the firm’s almost 45-year history that an Architect has come out of a school that WLC designed! Ayala HS was the first comprehensive high school in WLC’s extensive K-12 portfolio, and the firm is both honored and humbled to now be ‘modernizing’ the campus.
Go Kathleen and Go Bulldogs!
– Jim DiCamillo, WLC President
Q: What has your journey in architecture been like at WLC?
Kathleen: “I’ve been here at WLC for three years. Right off the bat from when I started everyone was very personable and friendly. And that was really important to me to have an environment where I felt at ease – because it’s very hard to work in an environment where you’re on edge all the time. And it helps out when things get stressful that everyone is still very supportive of each other.
There is a very strong mentoring environment. They’ve guided me all along the way instead of just setting you loose and either setting you up for failure or holding your hand so much that you don’t feel like you’re growing and learning. I’ve never had that problem here. It’s always kind of the right amount of feeding you the rope as you go.
I look back now and I can’t even believe how far I’ve come. Part of me thinks that three years has gone by really fast – and another part feels that it was so long ago when I first started. I have been able to touch bits and pieces of everything, which has been a really good experience. Having the opportunity to stay with a project the whole way through is a huge learning experience, because at the end you can see the results of your actions at the beginning. For better or for worse.”
"Having the opportunity to stay with a project the whole way through is a huge learning experience, because at the end you can see the results of your actions at the beginning. For better or for worse."
Q: Did you know that WLC designed your high school?
Kathleen: “WLC designed my elementary school, junior high, and high school – which I didn’t know at the time. I didn’t find that out until I started working here, actually. It kind of felt fitting once I got here and I was scrounging around through the archives of the Chino Valley School District one day and I was like, ‘Wait…that’s all three of my schools!’ So it seems like a natural place to end up.
I always joke with Jim DiCamillo because there’s a newspaper called the Chino Champion in the Chino Valley area – and Jim’s like a local celebrity. My mom is constantly calling me with news like, ‘Oh, Jim DiCamillo is in the newspaper again. He was principal for a day at a local school.’ Yep. That’s my company!”
Q: What kind of impact do you hope to have on those who experience your work?
Kathleen: “I really want people to be comfortable and be able to use the space for what it was intended for. I also want them to enjoy it at the same time. If they’re going to work or to school, I want them to perform better in their work or in their learning because it’s a good environment to be in – and they look forward to being in it.”
"The little kid in me still wants to do something big, amazing, and world-renowned. But honestly, that's not as important."
Q: As you look at the future, what do you hope for in your career as an architect?
Kathleen: “One of the major appeals of architecture is that an idea that comes out of your brain becomes a physical, solid structure. It’s built. People are using it. I have had a chance to experience this with my designs because WLC is so good at letting you stick with projects all the way through. When I first started here I worked on these two admin building projects, and now they’re done. And I realize, ‘Wow, that’s so cool. I drew this and it’s a real thing now.’
We all have those dreams where we look at Architectural Record or we look at these amazing museums that people design. The little kid in me still wants to do something big, amazing, and world-renowned. But honestly, that’s not as important. I just want to be proud of what I do. I want to continue designing spaces that I’m proud of.”
"I just want to be proud of what I do. I want to continue designing spaces that I'm proud of."
Thank you Kathleen for your creativity and passion for architecture. We look forward to bright things ahead as a Licensed Architect!