Katie Karlinchak headshot with Gensler Voices overlay

Gensler Voices: Katie Karlinchak on the Impact of Universal Design

This Q&A is part of a series of interviews with Gensler architects, designers, and others in the firm about their career journey, and the impact that design and architecture can have on our communities and the human experience. Here, we sit down with Katie Karlinchak, a designer in our San Diego office:

How were you first introduced to architecture and design?

Growing up, I would help my dad working around the house almost every weekend. Whether that was building a treehouse or remodeling our basement, I was always involved in the planning and my parents valued my input. Having this early influence of construction, helped to excel my interest in the design world.

What is a daily habit of yours that you swear by?

Living in San Diego, I take the extra 5-minute commute to drive past the ocean and think of 3 things that I’m grateful for each day. It helps me to clear my head and come into work refreshed with a positive attitude.

Did you have a mentor growing up or at any point during your career? If so, how did that relationship impact your growth as a person or in the industry at large?

My grandfather was in the elevator industry. Watching him review drafting plans and talk about how elevators have impacted not only disabled individuals, but universal design, left a lasting impression in my mind. Later in his life, he became disabled and had to rely solely on elevators. Seeing this impact, drove home the importance of designing for everyone and not just the majority. Every day I look for ways in which our designs can improve our clients’ daily lives and the ways in which they work and live.

What are you most excited for when it comes to the future of architecture and design?

I am extremely excited about sustainability. While it has become a key piece to saving our environment, I believe it has also excelled our design decisions and materiality options. There is so many new innovative products in the industry that meet important sustainability goals.

If you could impart any piece of advice to individuals beginning their design career, what would it be?

Be open to new ideas and be a voice! Having confidence in your opinion and design ideas will help you to grow. Your opinion matters and coming into the industry, you come with bright new ideas. Share those! Working hand and hand with team members has shown me that everyone brings a unique viewpoint to the table, be open to those!

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