SGA’s Sally, Ali, and Sam are a Tremendous Trio

SGA Spotlight Series

Throughout the year, Studio G will publish profiles of our staff members to showcase our collaborative team. The following blog post is the second in this series.

Ali Horwitz, Staff Architect, Sally Gibson, Senior Project Manager, and Sam Maloney, a Designer, have been a strong, collaborative team here at Studio G over the past couple of years, specifically on the Benjamin Franklin Cummings Institute of Technology project.

Sally comes from a long line of engineers and “architect types,” she said, adding that “sometimes I feel like there’s something genetic there.” As a kindergartener, she loved to play with dollhouses, but not for the typical reason. “I really became obsessed with the houses, not the dolls,” she said. Throughout elementary school and beyond, she always chose to write paper on architects or architectural subjects, and eventually became one herself.

Ali did not begin her career as an architect, but rather studied languages, critical theory, and social justice.

“I did a program to see what it would be like to work in a studio,” she said, since she has always had a love for art and design. From there, she took a gap year and went to grad school for architecture.

Her mom is an artist and a musician, and her dad a strategy consultant. “I got creativity from my mom and my analytical side from my dad, and those two different ways of thinking come together well for architecture,” she said.

Sam took an art class as a kid but stopped attending once he realized he preferred to draw floor plans on graph paper as opposed to portraits and landscapes. In high school, he took part in the ACE Mentor program and was introduced to CAD, where he could create floor plans to his heart’s content. Though no one in his family is an architect or engineer, “I found my way into it because it is something I love to do,” he said.

Three Different Skill Sets Come Together

All three work in Studio G’s Education/Civic studio, but each brings a different set of skills.

Ali has a design and production role, working with models but also coordinating with clients and ensuring their needs are met. She has also become the go-to rendering and graphics person, which she says has been an enjoyable balance to the more technical side.

Sam focuses mainly on exteriors and exterior detailing, as well as structural coordination with clients.

Sally oversees the team both internally at Studio G and externally with consultants and clients. “I keep all the people on the team moving forward,” she said, but also finds herself as a project architect at times.

“Ali and I will work together, for example, on plan changes that have to be done,” she said. “We’re a team.”

Though the trio is not actively working on a project together right now, they said their time as part of a team on the BFCIT project was a really positive experience.

Sally praised Ali and Sam’s willingness to collaborate and take initiative on things that she never would have thought of. “It was great having a team that really took initiative to really pursue things that needed to be pursued,” she said.

“We all have clearly different strengths,” Ali added. “We just balanced well.”

Sam said, “it was just a lot of fun collaborating and problem solving together,” and “dealing with big challenges as a team.” He said the passion for the project was palpable from all three of them, and it led to a fantastic design for the school.

Value in Mentoring

Mentoring is a huge part of Studio G culture, and “at Studio G, people mentor across the board,” Ali said. “There’s always someone I can turn to when I’m stuck.”

Sam added, “On paper, there’s a mentor/mentee assignment, but in practice there’s no limit to how much mentorship you can receive.”

As a senior staff member, Sally said that there is “no such thing as being stagnant in architecture. I’m always learning from the younger people too. It really does go both ways. That’s been a huge change in the industry for the better.”

Supporting Each Other

Sally on Ali + Sam: “Both Sam and Ali really do have a great ability to look ahead and see what needs to be done,” she said. She also praised Ali’s ability to be task- and detail-oriented. She spoke highly of Sam’s critical design thinking and what “something might mean long-term for the building.”

Ali on Sam + Sally: “Sam is very clear about his communication,” she said, and “very mindful and considerate of other people.” She said that Sally has been her mentor and project manager on nearly every project she’s worked on at Studio G. “I always know I can ask Sally a question,” Ali said. “She has never made me feel stupid.”

Sam on Ali + Sally: “Ali is an outstanding listener,” Sam said, adding that she is a “strong communicator” when it comes to advocating for herself and has a “sensible, rational way of approaching problems.” Sally had been Sam’s mentor for the past year and “Sally is the best project manager I’ve had the pleasure of working with,” he said. During the BFCIT process, “through all challenges, Sally never stopped seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Dream Projects

Sam has a passion for musical theater and having done some set design in the past, he would love to design a theater, auditorium, or other performing arts space.

As a lover of nature, Sally said she’s always wanted to work on a nature center or a visitor’s center “for some kind of preserve.” She said she’s interested in “low environmental-impact projects that just completely respect nature.”

Ali said that BFCIT was a dream project for her because of the “value it adds to the community and the people it serves.” She said that while “the program is the most important,” it “still has an ability to be really cool architecturally.”

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