To recognize healthy workplace environments, The Salt Lake City organization “Women In Architecture” initiated an annual award for the Firm of the Year. The recipient of the 2016 award is GSBS Architects, selected for excellence in creating a forward-thinking, flexible and employee-oriented work environment.
In acknowledgment of the importance of the award, GSBS principal David Brems said, “Our long time practice of hiring a diverse staff has led us to empathetic, mindful and environmentally-responsible design solutions.”
Women in Architecture, SLC, was established 4 years ago to help equalize the gender gap in the profession by advocating, supporting, mentoring and creating a strong community of women in the field of architecture in Salt Lake City. The criteria for judging were career development, flexibility, communication, benefits, diversity and inclusion, and firm amenities.
The nomination form, prepared by Kelsey Madden, Erin Holcombe, both architectural interns, and Clio Rayner, AIA, LEED AP, stated: “71 team members strong, our firm runs on a clear understanding and passion for people. We believe that the best architecture is born out of consideration and respect for the individuals for whom it is built – their origins, values, purpose, location, and aspirations. We strive to create a sense of place and a sense of purpose for both our clients and our employees. This is what makes GSBS so special.”
Rayner said the GSBS team is comprised of members ages 21-71 from all over the world, including people from many U.S. states, Canada, Korea, Vietnam, Japan, Poland, Brazil, Romania, Bulgaria, Iran, Bosnia, Guatemala, and Mexico. She said five different disciplines – architecture, planning, landscape architecture, interior design, and economic consulting – are housed in an open-office environment, which encourages collaboration and knowledge sharing between disciplines. Women make up 45% of the workforce, and are represented at every level from board member to the newest interns.
“GSBS offers many career development opportunities for employees at every level,” Rayner said. “The office holds monthly meetings highlighting new projects, professional experiences, and education on new technologies and there are frequent training sessions focused on technology to teach employees best practices and office standards.” She said the firm also encourages mentorship through small “studios” designed to answer questions, give assistance, and provide personal advocacy.
On the lighter, side, the nominators described the make up of the firm as: 32 Empowered Women, 37 Moms & Dads, 19 Outdoor Enthusiasts, 16 Volunteers, 11 Dog Lovers, 1 Synchronized Swimmer, 3 Tri-athletes, 5 Car Fanatics, 8 Amateur Chefs, and 1 Crazy Family.
Rayner said, “ We work hard together, play hard together, and genuinely enjoy the company of our colleagues. We believe that everyone is an important part of the team and we work to foster an environment where people can continuously grow and thrive and through that we deliver the best design.”