Meet the Team: Emily Van Dyke, Project Manager (US)

Our US team based in Seattle is a relatively new addition to the Acrylicize family, officially opening its doors in January 2016. Small in numbers but big in ambition, the tight-knit team of seven are now responsible for some of Acrylicize’s largest and most complex projects in North America and around the world.

Emily, one of the US team’s newest members, joined us 6 months ago as a project manager. Find out about her love for all things technical and creative and more below.

Where did you grow up in the US and what was it like?

I grew up in the beautiful Skagit Valley in the northwestern corner of Washington state. It has sprawling farmland surrounded by the San Juan Islands to the West and the Cascade Mountains to the East. Photos can’t do it justice, but my good friend Carly Brock is an amazing artist and many of her works perfectly capture the Skagit Valley.

Were you creative as a child or did your creativity develop later on?

I was creative in that I was not shy to get my hands dirty in finger painting, but I was by no means an artistic genius. From preschool to college, I always enjoyed art if it came with instructions, but my tendency trended more towards logic and problem solving, which makes sense now that I’m pretty split down the middle left/right brain!

Do you have any hobbies that you still like to indulge in?

I enjoy all types of creative activities but I need guided direction, so I love to take classes. My favorites have been glass-blowing, figure drawing, and cooking classes, and next I want to try my hand at pottery. Outside of creative hobbies, you can find often me getting outside, traveling, or wine tasting.

You studied Interior Design at Washington State University. What made you pursue the architecture and design industry for your career?

When I was young, I was fascinated by architecture magazines and could spend hours perusing floor plans.

I’ve always had an eye for good design and intrinsically recognized the value of a well-designed environment and how your surroundings can affect your wellbeing. When I learned there was a whole industry that revolves around shaping the built environment, I knew I had to be a part of it.

What was the main focus of your programme? What other modules/subjects did you study that you enjoyed or found particularly fascinating?

Interior design is inherently multi-faceted and our studies varied from architecture history to building codes to the elements of art, culminating in comprehensive design studios. I was also active as a program and student ambassador and orientation counselor – I really enjoyed working with and supporting incoming students and championing the importance of the design industry.

After working as an interior designer for a global Architecture practice for several years, you decided to pivot towards project management and join Team Acrylicize. How has your background in the industry aided your transition?

While practicing interior design I found the creative process to be highly rewarding, but I couldn’t help myself from taking on the responsibilities of keeping my projects on track. Today, my background gives me a unique understanding of the intricacies of our industry and the ability to collaborate with design teams with the shared goal of producing the highest quality projects.

My experience allows me to speak the same common language of design and identify potential needs and issues before they arise. Because our work at Acrylicize lives in its own special niche, a background in the design industry is essential to managing and delivering superior projects to satisfied clients.

Project management is a complex field that requires a broad range of skills. What are some of the greatest challenges of your job and how do you overcome them?

Identifying your team’s strengths and interests and crafting your project planning to best cultivate individual growth results in the most rewarding work, for both client and team, but it can be difficult to balance personal endeavors with the opportunities we are awarded. Each client, also, has their own specific requirements and needs, and it can be a challenge to anticipate which strategies will best serve your client. 

I am dedicated to an open and honest approach to our work as a team, which involves learning from our past and celebrating our triumphs. Success is a moving target but leaning on our values and individual strengths is what will continue to set us apart.

What’s been your favourite artwork/project to work on so far?

My favorite project at Acrylicize is one that’s just beginning for an international technology company. It’s the largest project we’ve ever worked on, spanning 5 buildings, but our ability to focus on the most special opportunities and an involved collaboration with the design team means our work is highly meaningful and impactful. The sheer size of this project means it will be a challenge to manage, but I know the end product will be amazing.

Quick Fire Round

Favourite animal? 

For pets, I’m absolutely a dog person. Otherwise, I think elephants are incredibly intelligent and I’m so impressed by their capacity for compassion.

An architect or designer that inspires you? 

Patricia Urquiola

The last time you were out in nature? 

My favorite outdoors trip of the summer has been backpacking in the Cascades and camping on Ross Lake – no bear sightings, but a ton of beautiful scenery!

Find out more about Contours, one of our landmark projects in the US, here.

Want to learn more about the team? Check out a recent interview with Lou from our design team here.

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