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Laboratory Design spoke with Katelyn Chapin, AIA, Project Architect with Svigals + Partners in New Haven, Conn.

Laboratory Design (LD): What project do you consider to be your greatest challenge, and why?
Katelyn Chapin (KC):
Every project poses unique criteria that makes it different from past projects. There is a first time for everything. Once you are in the profession you realize you have to be a lifetime learner, because there are always new trends and new methods of construction detailing. I look at each project as an opportunity rather than as a challenge.

LD: If you had to do something else for a living, what would it be?
KC:
I love to make things with my hands. Since childhood, I've always enjoyed crafting and painting, and more recently I have become interested in the art of furniture design. A beautiful, modern, handcrafted piece of furniture really inspires me—I would love to be able to train with a master of the trade.

LD: What’s the best advice you’ve received during your career?
KC:
Professional relationships are critical to your career success. Find the people who will advocate for you just as much as you advocate for yourself. (Or more so.)

LD: What has been your favorite vacation, or what would be your dream vacation?
KC:
All vacations I have taken hold special memories and are favorites in their own ways. There are specific components that make them all stand out—including family and friends on the journey, spending time relaxing or exploring, creating opportunities for spontaneous experiences, indulging in local cuisines and interacting with the locals. Trips to South America and Africa are at the top of the list for my next adventures.

LD: What would you tell young people to encourage them to join your line of work?
KC:
Designing and shaping the environment around you is an opportunity unique to those in the architectural profession. To help guide your development, speak up and get involved. You steer your future—but also be mindful and open to new opportunities. The most challenging scenarios often lead to the most valuable lessons learned.

LD: Are you involved with any career-related charities or mentorship programs?
KC:
I'm currently serving a 2-year term with AIA National as the Young Architect Regional Director (YARD) of New England. The YARD is responsible for working closely with the Emerging Professional Committees of each AIA New England component, and acts as a liaison to AIA National’s Young Architects Forum. In this position, I also serve on the AIA New England council. Locally, I'm involved with the AIA Connecticut's Emerging Professionals group and chapter activities.

LD: What do you like to do in your spare time?
KC:
I love to stay involved in the architectural community through my volunteer work. On a more personal level, I enjoy staying active through group sports and exercise and if the activity is outdoors that makes it even better. Movement is an integral part of my wellbeing, helping me to unwind after work. As an added benefit, it serves as a source of inspiration too!

LD: Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers of Laboratory Design?
KC:
I encourage you all to look for opportunities to empower the emerging professionals and future leaders of your organization. This benefits the young professional, your firm, and the building industry more broadly—a win-win-win scenario!

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