Bringing passion to her work: Get to know Esther Rivard-Sirois
At Kasian, we are proud of the diverse skills and deep sector experience that our various team members bring to our projects and overall community. It is this diversity that empowers us to create a deeper connection between people and place, in turn transforming not only landscapes and buildings, but communities.
Our employee Spotlights serve to introduce some of our high impact and passionate team members, highlight their unique skills, and share their reflections on how design trends are evolving in our changing times.
Spotlight: Esther Rivard-Sirois, Principal
“My work is also constantly influenced by people with whom I work. I believe everyone on a project team has an interesting point of view to bring a there is always something to learn from others if you listen and stay opened minded.”
Question & Answer
Q: Can you share a bit about your background and what inspired you to become an architect?
Esther: From my earliest memories, the aspiration to become an architect has always fueled my ambitions. Growing up in Sherbrooke, Quebec, my parents, both engineers, designed and built our home base on passive house concepts and I can still remember how excited I was exploring and playing with the model.
Before completing master’s degree, I took an academic break to gain work experience in the industry and embarked on a backpacking journey through Europe to immerse myself in its architecture.
In 2007, drawn by the desire to refine my English skills, I moved to Alberta. I joined Kasian in Edmonton and three years later moved to our Calgary Studio and I never looked back!
Q: What aspects of being an architect do you find most rewarding and challenging?
Esther: Being an architect means that we will never stop learning and I believe it’s the beauty of our work. Each project presents unique challenges, values and goals. For example, working with indigenous clients on recent projects such as Kainai Peacemaking Centre, gave me a different point of view of my work, and my overall perspective. I see the beauty in meaningful details and appreciate taking time to listen and understand beliefs beyond my own.
Q: What drew you to Kasian, and what do you enjoy most about working there?
Esther: What I admire most about our Kasian’s culture is the seamless integration of architecture and interior design. Architecture is both interior and exterior and about people experiencing the spaces. Majority of the public & education facilities we design, such as, Renfrew Education Services or Red Crow Community College, prioritize human needs, adopting an inside-out approach that emphasizes people first, then the built environment. As a team, we work the same way, collaboratively and respectfully.
Q: Have you had any mentors along the way, or any architects who have influenced your work?
Esther: Through my journey at Kasian, I’ve been fortunate enough to have multiple mentors who gave me the opportunity to take on responsibilities and grow professionally. Bill Chomik (Retired Principal at Kasian) is one of them and working alongside him for multiple years not only helped me to develop my design and management skills, but also increased my respect and love for our profession.
My work is also constantly influenced by people with whom I work. I believe everyone on a project team has an interesting point of view to bring a there is always something to learn from others if you listen and stay opened minded. Mentorship can be considered at many different levels.
Q: How would you describe your leadership style?
Esther: I value transparency, teamwork and opened communication. I thrive from fostering an environment where all team members can contribute and shine. I like giving everyone in a project team the space to take on responsibility and grow while staying in the background to provide structure and support.
Q: Can you discuss your involvement in sustainability and how you approach it in your projects?
Esther: Sustainability has always been a big part of my life. Once I started my career, I received my LEED accreditation and started coordinating sustainability for LEED projects such as South Health Campus, Edmonton Federal Building and Calgary Courts Centre. Since then, I have also received a Green Roof Professional accreditation as well as becoming a Certified Passive House Designer. As a leader of sustainability at Kasian, it allows me to drive initiatives with clients and within the company including implementing Kasian’s Sustainability Action Plan through our processes and operations. Within projects, sustainability discussions happen at all the time, most importantly at the onset when we are setting up goals and priorities with stakeholders.
Q: What do you like doing outside of work?
Esther: When I’m not at work, I am a mom of young twins. I enjoy spending time with them playing outside, building forts with blankets and amazon boxes, and teaching them piano.
By: Shiva Lotfi
By: Kim Green , Lara Pisicoli , Suzanne Campbell
By: Esther Rivard-Sirois
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