Jessica Lane, AIA



Early stage project definition and programming with the GLIDE foundation as they explore modernization to their services administration facility in the Tenderloin.

I know it sounds cliche, but… our clients. In our profession, we are blessed to work with people embarking on a dream for the future, in the form of a building. It’s always a period of transition, which comes with struggle, risk, and — when you can nurture it — truth-telling and discovery. We get to partner with these folks, who are leaders and visionaries in their worlds, and that collaboration is incredibly rewarding.

Initially as a Board member for AIASF in 2017, I helped with the visioning process to clarify needs and goals for AIASF’s and the Center’s future space, as our lease was coming to an end. There was strong consensus around the urgency to connect more with our community and broaden the design conversation.

We needed a physical space that was much more accessible, engaging, and public-facing than our 6th floor space at 130 Sutter. We are not used to being in the client’s shoes, but in this instance we had to take that leap and find a different space.

I then chaired the Relocation Committee, which secured the lease for 140 Sutter, helped write our 2019 Strategic Business Plan chartering a path to organizational growth, and last year as AIASF Board President I helped coordinate efforts between the Capital Campaign, Relocation, and Finance task forces to bring the project closer to fruition. This year I’m on the Board of the Center and look forward to again wearing the finance/strategic growth hat. It snowballed, as it tends to do when you believe in something.

So many things. The Center will be a vibrant and bustling hub – a place celebrating and showcasing the vividness, beauty, and rich fabric of architecture and design in San Francisco and beyond. At the same time, it’s more than a museum or a gallery – it is a living place of exchange and learning. It supports architects and designers in their work at the generative nexus where politics, culture, capital, technology, and imagination meet. Architects and designers have a unique position to shape major issues of our time: racial and social justice, climate change and resilience, and equity. The Center’s focus on community and public engagement ensures that this thinking doesn’t happen in an echo chamber, and creates so many opportunities for cross-disciplinary collaboration, discovery and innovation between the creative, brilliant leaders and visionaries that we have in San Francisco and the Bay Area. The Center is a place that I believe foments the audacious imagination that is necessary to take creative leaps.

This is going to sound crazy, but I can’t wait for the patina, and the chaos. I think one of the strengths of Aidlin Darling’s design work is that it improves with age and use. Ten years from now, I imagine the Center having the vibe of a studio or favorite café – of ongoing change and production, but at the same time a sense of camaraderie and warmth. Design-ey types roam through and treat the place like their own, and are mixing with tourists gathering to tour San Francisco’s hanging food gardens.

High schoolers finish tweaking 3d holographics of their Architectural Foundation projects in the storefront. Somebody is live-casting a webinar on landscaping for anti-desertification in the board room; while local architects, civic and community leaders hash out city planning code change updates in the seminar room. A vibrant, welcoming, third space for the 21st century.

Working with GLIDE has challenged me to think differently about architecture, and opened my eyes to the subtle and overt ways that we employ design to influence human behavior. How do we build buildings for people that are often excluded from them? I’m learning about trauma-informed design, which emphasizes the importance of listening deeply to people, and to my own intuition and senses. I’m looking forward to continuing to question my assumptions and conventional solutions, which I’m starting to realize raises a high bar for rigorous, highly empathic, intentional architectural and design responses. I feel like a new chapter has opened up for me, which is exciting.

Thank you for the great questions, highlighting the experience of being involved in the architecture and design community on a volunteer basis. I’ve learned a ton, and been so uplifted by the connections I’ve made with my co-volunteers. This community has so much talent, and a huge heart; being connected to this has become a source of inspiration and a cornerstone of my practice through hard times. I encourage everyone, especially emerging professionals, to get involved.

About Jessica Lane:
Working at a wide range of scales and with diverse user groups, Jessica has expertise in delivering buildings that meet ambitious goals and performance criteria, while maintaining focus on the narrative “heart” of the project. Her personable and intuitive approach builds the strong team collaboration needed to create innovative, functional, and engaging learning and work environments. Jessica has been instrumental in bringing technically demanding projects to completion, including UC Santa Cruz’s Long Marine Lab, the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s remodeled Sea Otter Exhibit and Café, and the University of California’s Northern Regional Library.

Her design for UCSC’s Coastal Biology Building, the flagship laboratory and teaching facility on the University’s new Marine Science Campus, is an example of carefully coordinated high-performance detailing on a tight budget and building footprint. Jessica’s pre-architecture background working with non-profit organizations uniquely position her to understand client and organizational needs, expertise she has leveraged to lead early-stage concept, visioning and feasibility studies for the GLBT Historical Society, the Marine Science Institute, and currently, GLIDE.


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