Team Member Q&A: Chris Bent

Christopher Bent

Senior Associate

Worship, Education and Community Studio

Christopher Bent, Intl. Assoc. AIA, has more than 24 years of experience in architectural design, master planning, project management, construction programming, and procurement. He is highly skilled in managing project operations, meeting both the top- and bottom-line objectives. Christopher is recognized for his complete and effective communications skills, and for his outstanding track record of successful project delivery.

Q: You have a broad experience with project management and design for different architectural project types, including the new Houses of Parliament for the government of Jamaica, for which you manage a huge, international design team. You also have particular expertise with the management and design of both large and small educational projects. What is different and attractive to you as an architect about projects for education?

CB: To me, when working on education projects, it seems like you’re designing facilities for an especially devoted group of people that will use the facility. What we produce has a great deal of meaning to the school and impact for the community. Teachers and staff that I have worked with are people who are truly committed to educating our children. The better the conditions and facilities we create, the more enhancement we can lend to how the teachers can engage with the students. More engagement produces better outcomes for the students. Truly, design for education is about people, and specifically children. There are ideals that I hold dear, where I can immerse into the meaning behind the project and empathize with the purpose. A good education is one of those ideals.

Q: To be such a well-rounded and talented professional is no trivial thing. Much of what you do are things not taught in architecture school. How important is mentorship to future generations of architects and designers?

CB: That’s a big question! The thing with architecture is that you never stop learning. Every project presents itself with a different set of challenges and opportunities. I believe it is important to share the concept of continual learning with future generations of architects so that they will have an appreciation that architecture is much more than what they have learned in school. Architecture is more to do with people and the built environment rather than just creating buildings. The built environment impacts people in different ways and buildings and spaces are used in different ways. We have to become well-schooled in how the environments we create will impact the lives of any particular user group, or in fact society in general.

Q:  Who was most influential to you in becoming an architect, and during your career?

CB: Over the years, quite a few different people. Early on, one of my brothers was doing technical drawing and I was intrigued with that. Then a high school technical drawing teacher helped me by focusing my attention more on architecture. Shortly after that, I had an architect mentor who cautioned me how hard the practice of architecture is. But in the end, the more I felt challenged, the more I wanted to rise to the challenge. Once in architecture school I was exposed to many of the great architects and four that inspired me most were Louis Sullivan, Tadao Ando, Mies van der Rohe, and Antoni Gaudi.

Q: What is one piece of advice that you would hope someone aspiring to become an architect might hear?

CB: I would hope that any young person would hear that they should not let any limitations, whether self-imposed, imagined or invented by others, stop them from pursuing their dreams.

Q:  When you aren’t at work what is your favorite thing to do to relax, recharge, and get inspired?

CB: My dog Noah and I love to sit and watch TV together. He especially loves soccer and really follows the ball. He understands when I speak to him in Jamaican and listens most of the time better than the children do!


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