Q/A with Anne-Marie Bouliane
When did you know you wanted to become an architect?
“I’ve known since I was 7! I started drawing house plans and I was quite good with my hands. My father is a painter so as a child, I was immersed in the universe of Mondrian and geometry. I remember that when we were very young, we used to paint with gouache, draw plans and analyze shapes together. I am sure that the origin of my vocation comes from these moments, it is undeniable. Having a rather cartesian and organized side to my personality, architecture proved to be the ideal balance between art and concrete, the perfect balance. »
How do you show this creativity in your work?
“Architecture allows us to materialize our ideas, to make them happen and that, always in collaboration with all the contributors involved in the process. As an architect, I act mainly as project manager and I am convinced that creativity can also be found in this role. Whether through the different phases of a project, the work organization, the development of the final construction details or during the construction itself,from start to finish, searching for solutions opens the door to creativity. To me, being creative is first and foremost a state of mind, an energy. »
Why did you chose project management rather than concept?
“Over the years and having worked on different project types and scales, I discovered I had a serious interest in project management. Regardless of its size, each project, requires a specific organization. One of the biggest challenge is to ensure, as a team, the success of the project, despite all the constraints and surprises that may arise and I thrive on that aspect of my job.
I find that working together with a common goal in mind is really stimulating and rewarding. I love exchanging and collaborating, it’s part of who I am, and it allows me to learn constantly, to question myself and to find solutions. As a project manager, I have the opportunity to be involved in every stages and have an overview of the project. Just like a puzzle, you have to make sure that everything falls into place, one step at a time, piece by piece, until you have the complete picture. It’s what keeps me going and motivated on a daily basis. And the pride and achievement always feels best when shared as a team!”
What do you think are the qualities required to be an architect today?
“I’d say above all, listening, sensitivity and thoroughness. Being an architect is a profession that leaves no room for error, and that’s why teamwork is important. LEMAYMICHAUD is like a family, where everyone has their role and expertise, their place, and this unity allows us to go further together! In an architectural project, every task is important, every collaboration is essential and, in this sense, no hierarchy exists between the contributors. However, this structure and cohesion requires being methodical in order to deliver the projects!
An architect must also be versatile. He must be able to adapt to any change, any constraint. The architect must be innovative, constantly looking for solutions.
Beyond the client’s real and tangible investment, a project often stems from an emotion. The architect must have the sensibility to understand and translate the client’s wishes and vision and bring the project to what it should be.”
If you had any advice for someone who wanted to become an architect what would it be?
“It’s a job that allows us to learn continously, nothing is taken for granted, so it takes patience and willpower. It is also necessary to listen, to be humble, to be able to question oneself, to adapt. Of course, we learn a lot in school, but it is our thought process that keeps developing, only experience and practice make us grow as a professional. As for me, I feel that I am still learning every day! This is what I love about the job: there is no routine, no two identical projects, each time a new story begins.”
Where do you find your inspiration?
“Traveling,whether at a near by location or a foregin country,inspires me! I believe that as soon as we leave our home, our comfort zone, we open up to new horizons.
Inspiration can come from the tiniest details. On a daily basis, being with my kids and enjoying beautiful moments with them allows me to relax, recharge my batteries and take a step back in order to have perspective on the project. I feel there is nothing more rejuvenating.
What I also love about my job is that it gives us the opportunity to travel. We are fortunate enough to have clients across Canada and it has led me to discover new places, those are very enriching experiences.
You mentioned that you traveled for work. Do you notice any differences in the approach towards architecture and a project?
“Honestly, I really like working with architects and local contributors. There are always some adjustments to be made, but it is a profession that has no frontiers methaphorically and literally. The architect is a real chameleon!”
What is the most significant project that you have completed at LEMAYMICHAUD?
“Without hesitation, the Montreal Eaton Center. I had the chance to be part of this stimulating project for several years and I learned a about the different stages of a project, management and what it’s like to work within a big team. Thanks to this mandate, I discovered and worked in all the different aspects of the profession. Due to its scale and complexity, we had to organize and structure ourselves differently.
It was nice to be surrounded at all times and to be able to benefit from each other’s experience and knowledge.
Also, we must admit that after all these years of drawing, coordinating, collaborating, the feeling of seeing this project built was incredible! The construction site phase, which just ended, involved a lot of challenges and constraints, being in an existing building that had gone through many different eras. You could feel how effervescent the completion of the project felt when the first spaces took shape, particularly when we saw the façade on Sainte-Catherine Street.
You are LEED certificatied for sustainable buildings. How do you see this issue evolve in the future?
“When I got my LEED certification 13 years ago, it was a brand new reality in the industry. Today we are trying to build a cleaner future, to create buildings that are more sustainable and that fit in with their surroundings. My wish is that within a few years, the constructions will be de facto sustainable! This is an ongoing process, a necessary shift that must be part of both the client’s and the company’s values in order for it to last. ”
What is the ideal architecture for you?
“I think an ideal architecture doesn’t have to be grand. There is no “small project”. For me, the ideal architecture should be sensitive and elegant. While meeting the client’s needs, it must create an emotion, a memory and fit into its context.”
The flash interview
Develop or create? Create while developing
Dreamer or realistic? Dreamer
What makes you want to wake up in the morning? The feeling of a job well done. I get emotionally involved in projects, they are close to my heart, so seeing them move forward every day is what makes me want to wake up!
Favorite part of your job?
I have two! The beginning of a project, because each time, it’s a new universe to discover. There is a mix of apprehension and excitement, an urge to dive in. It’s a job that allows you to work in all kinds of environments, universes and interact with different industries. And finally,the pride we feel as a team at the end of a project. The sense of accomplishment and fulfillment when working as a team.
What achievement are you most proud of? I am fundamentally and first and foremost a mom, so what makes me proud is what I pass down to my children. Today, I have the chance to show them that it is possible to love your job and want to work hard, it makes me proud to pass these values on to them.
Do you have a philosophy that guides you today? Follow your gut, always!
Black and white or colors? Black and white, not to mention green!
Mies van der Rohe or Frank Gehrry? Mies Van der Rohe, for his refined, sensitive and pure architecture.
What architectural work would you like to be the creator of?
I believe every project belongs to its creator, so it’s hard for my to say that I would’ve have wanted to design this but the Brion’s tomb by Italian architect Carlo Scarpa, near Treviso, moves me deeply. It is a simple, yet very sculptural work that I have had the chance to visit in the past, and I still think about it today!