Katie Faulkner, FAIA, recently joined Katerra as vice president of architecture. Katie is an award-winning architect with more than 25 years of experience in residential, academic, institutional, and health-care projects. Before Katerra, she was a founding principal and president of NADAAA, overseeing firm operations as managing partner, leading design on select projects, and expanding the firm’s fabrication portfolio with the launch of NADLab. We sat down with Katie to learn about her new role and why she is excited to be part of Katerra.
Katie Faulker, FAIA
What is your role at Katerra?
I am part of the Business Development team working with Craig Curtis, Katerra’s Chief Architect. My role is a mix of design, sales support, and project management. I explore opportunities for design-assist on mass timber projects as well as promote our capabilities with cross-laminated timber (CLT). Recently I’ve had the opportunity to learn from some of the platform teams, better understanding how we can deploy CLT across different markets. Many of my past projects have been in higher education, and I am looking to strengthen Katerra’s prospects on university campuses.
Why did you choose to join Katerra?
I was attracted to Katerra’s vision. There are persistent challenges in the AEC industry that many people – me included – wish to confront, such as the inabilities to accurately price projects in advance, provide beautiful affordable housing, and build sustainably. As a vertically integrated company, Katerra offers the possibility to tackle all of these issues, and in doing so, bring solutions to the market that can benefit the broader industry.
“There are persistent challenges in the AEC industry that many people – me included – wish to confront, such as the inabilities to accurately price projects in advance, provide beautiful affordable housing, and build sustainably.”
What is your design philosophy?
I believe buildings should express a tectonic logic–creating a connection between a building’s form and its intended use. I find mass timber to be fascinating because it is a material that naturally lends itself to tectonic expression in design. An example is the Catalyst. A superbly designed building, it will be flexible for its intended purpose (education and business), while also being appropriately representative of the Pacific Northwest context (built out of Katerra’s CLT) where it resides. A less obvious example of tectonic logic may be the Seattle Public Library. It’s on my mind since I recently returned to Seattle. When I look at it, I see a section responding to both a steep urban site and the necessity of weaving civic spaces through towers of books. It is a building that could not exist anywhere else. The latticed exterior seems complex but is easier to understand on the interior. While these buildings–Catalyst and the Library–have little in common, one can comprehend each immediately upon stepping inside.
What are you enjoying the most at Katerra so far?
Lately, I am re-thinking a design process that aligns with manufacturing. I have been continually impressed with the talent and breadth of experience of my Katerra colleagues. I am working with such a smart, cross-disciplined group of people who have a shared commitment to effecting change in this industry. It is not every day you can sit at the table with construction, design, engineering, technology, and manufacturing to advance productivity and sustainability in the built environment. I am on a team that is using CATIA–a 3D software with direct functionality among design, engineering, and manufacture–to refine costing and coordination. Our structural team has optimized the grid for our CLT production; the unit team is debating the design while construction considers all systems. These conversations are happening all over the company – I am not sure any other construction company can claim that.
“It is not every day you can sit at the table with construction, design, engineering, technology, and manufacturing to advance productivity and sustainability in the built environment.”
What is the most impactful way technology can help to improve the industry?
Technology can help reduce the complexities of the construction industry by offering efficiency and reducing waste. There is the added benefit of controlling quality and cost, but ultimately, we are looking for tools to drive a sea change in the ways our industry impacts an ecosystem. Buildings are integral to our social fabric, whether we are making new ones or updating the ones we’ve got. However, most construction, and by association design, has a net harmful effect on the environment. Offsite manufacturing, improved delivery, and mass timber are three ways Katerra stands to leverage technology to drastically improve the industry. At this point, nothing short of drastic improvement is an acceptable goal.Back