Employee Spotlight: Dana Burgess

Created by on May 20, 2020

For this edition of our Employee Spotlight, we’re highlighting Dana Burgess. While architecture wasn’t her only dream growing up (she also considered ballet, firefighting, and medicine at a young age), she’s certainly found her passion for it. Dana came to BBA nearly five years ago after completing her Master’s in Architecture, with an emphasis in historical preservation, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne. Since joining the team, Dana hasn’t looked back. Defining her role at BBA as a liaison between lead architect, client and builder, she says the majority of her work involves drafting in any stage of a project. She takes initial concepts and turns them into real working documents. As Dana puts it: 

“I think the greatest takeaway from working in a smaller firm is you really have your hand in most, if not all, aspects of a project from start to finish. Completing zoning analysis, permit submittal, client meetings, material selections, and conducting site meetings are just some of the other tasks I continue to do.”

Working on so many aspects of various projects has paid off. While Dana learned integral lessons in school, it wasn’t until her time with BBA that she was able to completely immerse herself in the design world and find her passion in working on custom residential homes. Reflecting on her time at BBA, Dana believes that she has grown significantly; seeing her most challenging projects become her most rewarding. For this Spotlight, Dana told me:

“One challenging project I worked on wasn’t due to any major decisional challenges, but challenges that arose during the permitting phase. For a single-family home in Chicago, we met with a neighborhood group, structural reviewer, stormwater management and the water reclamation district to satisfy all corrections and parties. Based on the project’s location and unique property footprint, it was more of a challenge navigating the permit process than a typical Chicago lot. Looking back on it, I’ve definitely learned a lot. [It] has also become the most rewarding. Still in the fairly early stages of construction, this is one of the first projects where I have worked with clients since the initial design phases. Now being able to walk the space with the clients and see their reaction is greatly gratifying.”

While this particular project continues to evolve, Dana has been able to depend upon a strong network of reliable support within the firm.

“I view everyone in the firm as a mentor, as everyone brings different skill sets and knowledge to the team. Senior associate, Monika Hemm, has been a great mentor on a range of topics from technical questions, to project management, to design feedback. Having this mentorship within the firm is a great way to continue my professional growth.”

From mentorship within the firm, to role models outside of architecture, Dana maintains her passion and motivation from unexpected role models:

“I love to cook and bake. I’ve recently started following Serena Wolf, a food blogger and author. I absolutely adore her cooking and outlook on life. On a whim, she decided to pursue cooking, moved to France, and ended up becoming a chef. I had the chance to meet Serena at a book signing not too long ago and I’ve learned, although it wasn’t the intended plan to become a chef, it was her passion for cooking that landed her where she is today. Her story has taught me that although there will be the occasional setback and you may not know what the end goal looks like, do what you love and are passionate about. During my studying and test taking, I’ve reminded myself to embrace the ups and downs and embrace the journey.”