Dawn Christine, Architect PLLC: Crafting Architectural Experiences Worth Remembering

Dawn Christine, Architect PLLC | Crafting Architectural Experiences | The Enterprise World

The Eiffel Towers and Burj Khalifas of the world would not have the celebrity status they have today without someone drawing them on a piece of paper first. Fast forward, and the mere drawings are now buildings admired by hundreds and thousands of people globally, as some spend their hard-earned money for a chance to admire them closely.

But why do only a handful of buildings garner this mass appeal while others fail? One of the primary reasons for this is their architectural brilliance. One does not have to understand architectural technicalities to see they are beautiful. It all eventually boils down to how these spaces make you feel, whether through their interior or exterior.

Experiential architecture is an architectural sub-type that focuses precisely on this aspect—Experience. In this process, every building design is from the perspective of experiencing the space and form. Dawn ChristineCEO of Dawn ChristineArchitect PLLCis an expert in experiential architecture. With a master’s in architecture from North Carolina State University, she is one of the most inspiring business leaders you should be aware of in 2023.

From Concepts to Reality

Dawn Christine, Architect PLLC is a 360-degree architectural service firm. From the initial design concept and interior design to engineering construction drawings, the firm brings your vision to life through its completely functional design analysis.

Through its computerized 3D visualization, the interior and exterior building designs can be seen and virtually experienced. This approach empowers the clients and helps them make good design decisions early on in the process. An additional benefit of computer visualization is that it helps maximize the design and budget of the client.

Choosing Faith over Fear

Dawn is a woman of faith, so when her fear rears its ugly head, her faith stands strong and rejects the lies that fear has to offer.

At the University of Florida, Dawn renamed Architecture to Archi-Torture due to its grueling nature, where anyone pursuing it would hardly get any sleep. She would work day and night in the design studio, not leaving until she was exhausted from building models. At one point, she even injured herself once while cutting the chipboard.

In her adulthood, Dawn was impacted significantly by the creative passion, discipline, and commitment she developed through extra-curricular activities from her youth. Throughout the years, she has learned that motivation and commitment should come from the child, not just parents. 

Coming back to the architectural profession, she says, not only is the field challenging overall, but some difficulties are also created due to its male-dominated nature. Although the scenario is changing as more women enter the field, numerous other challenges still remain. 

These challenges range from a lack of respect from men in the construction industry to dealing with men who resist taking direction from women and trusting their expertise.

As a result, it can take quite some time for a woman to build trust and common ground with the men in the construction industry.

However, Dawn has no doubt that with the effort from both sides, one can achieve fantastic results. In the architectural industry, no matter the architectural project, problem-solving skills are essential at every level. Those who create the synergies can also raise their performance levels.

Her challenges did not stop there. Dawn got married at the age of 21 and had her firstborn son at 22. Between undergraduate school at the University of Florida and Graduate School at NC State, she gave birth to a baby and took a break from school. Having such a break can be a huge detriment for a career-oriented woman, even more so for a woman with children.

Fortunately for Dawn, the professional absence did not negatively impact her. On the other hand, during her break, she started her own art business called Crossworks. At the time, the only Christian artwork on the market were realistic pictures of Jesus, the disciples, or Mary.

Continuing on the path of Arts, Dawn wanted to create a line of Modern Christian artwork that was abstract, light, and airy. She crafted most of these artworks with soft pastels, purchased a scanner and high-quality photo printer, and began selling her original art prints.

Juggling between two professions, Dawn reached a point where she had to choose between art business and finishing her architectural degree. She eventually picked the latter and dedicated 100% of her efforts to the field of Architecture.

In 2001, Dawn Christine completed her degree from NC State and worked as a part-time intern for 15 years. Skip to 2014, she finished her last licensing exam and became a Registered Architect.

Today, Dawn hopes to inspire other men/women/teens/or young professionals to choose a path, commit unswervingly, and progress through challenges. 

“I don’t believe there is a perfect path, but there is YOUR path. Choose wisely and pursue wholeheartedly. Everything looks easy until you try it”

Dawn Christine

Not Confined to Metrics

Dawn says the financial rewards and company growth are just natural outcomes of good leadership and does not extensively study the metrics or income numbers and financial growth.

She measures her success with the number of award-winning projects, places where the firm was published, the number of happy clients, and the overall satisfaction from creating a team of hard-working people who have fun along the way. 

God-Willing Success

Dawn primarily credits her success to her belief in the God of the Bible, who set her feet on Solid ground.

“Colossians 4:23 says 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. Work diligently. Work for something that is higher than yourself.”

Her dad always said that how you handle your failure will determine your success. When challenges eventually arise, she is confident in her knowledge that no matter what happens, all things (good and bad) will work in her favor in the long run.

Romans 8:28 “All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to his purpose.”

Trials can make you better or bitter, says Dawn. It is how you perceive the challenges that promote success. Most successful people are made successful through trials and not because things are easy. While it is easy to have a positive outlook and lead people when things are in your favor, the real test is the challenging times.

Creating Worthwhile Experiences

Dawn is an experiential architect. An experiential architect designs a building from the perspective of how you “experience” space and form. Essentially, it is designed from the inside out. Most architects design the form and then consider how the space fits inside the form. 

When Dawn is generating a concept for a project, she is thinking about what each client needs and how they will experience the architecture as they move from one space to the next, not just physically, but visually as well. She layers each perspective on top of the next and essentially builds a multi-faceted 3-dimensional canvas that inspires and evokes emotion.

As a result, the home becomes a series of places that offer an invitation to embrace both the sacred and the common moments in time. This is what experiential architecture is all about.

Out-of-the-Box Thinking

Dawn Christine, Architect PLLC, focuses on projects where the client wants to take the ‘out of the box’ route for their projects. That includes projects focusing on the artistry of architecture together with the traditional form and function. Currently, the firm continues to expand beyond North Carolina and into Florida and Virginia, where Dawn has active architectural licenses.

Moreover, it is constantly improving its products and services and taking the design deliverables to another level from standard “plans and elevations” to 3-dimensional digital deliverables like animations and perspectives. Showcasing its commitment, the firm will continue to improve the photorealism of its deliverables and ultimately move to virtual reality presentation.

Connecting the Business Components

The entrepreneurial responsibilities are extensive. While these responsibilities are directed toward the client first, it is also vital for an entrepreneur to work together as a team with staff and employees on every project. 

Going beyond, an entrepreneur must coordinate with the engineers and contractors who fine-tune the technical aspects. Ultimately, the job requires an entrepreneur to orchestrate all the components of practice, business, and personal time by creating synergies with everyone involved.

These synergies create success on numerous levels. That includes keeping the staff engaged and excited, promoting a unified technical team with the engineers and contractors, and managing client expectations. In addition, establishing deadlines, budgets, and work-life balance is also imperative to creating a healthy and thriving working environment.

A Walk On Water

Before starting her professional journey, Dawn worked under the guidance of  female architect Meg McLaurin for 15 years. She had two more children during that period and maintained a part-time schedule.

Dawn says she would have loved to work with the other firms and their fantastic projects, but had to prioritize her motherly duties. As it turned out, the firm she chose to work for was perfect for getting an adaptive and flexible schedule.

As her children got older and became independent, Dawn’s career began to feel restless. Confident in her abilities and in conducting successful projects, she decided to step out on her own in the world of architecture.

For Dawn Christine, leaving the comfort and stability of the job was not easy, especially being a single mother and the sole provider and caregiver. She faced a lot of fear in her heart and mind. The doubt started to arise:

“How in the world are you going to do this? If you fail, you will end up on the street. How are you going to have the energy and fortitude to start a business from the ground up while taking care of a home and raising kids? How are you going to pay for everything? “

Dawn had no answer to these questions. However, one day during her commute to work, a song crossed her mind. It was called “Walk on Water” by Britt Nicole, and it went something like this:

“You look around
It’s staring back at you
Another wave of doubt
Will it pull you under
You wonder
What if I’m overtaken
What if I never make it
What if no one’s there?
Will you hear my prayer?
When you take that first step
Into the unknown
You know that He won’t let you go
So what are you waiting for?
What do you have to lose?
Your insecurities, they try to alter you
You know you’re made for more
So don’t be afraid to move
Your faith is all
It takes in you
You can walk on the water too
So get out
and let your fear fall to the ground
No time to waste
Don’t wait
Don’t you turn around and miss out
Everything you were made for
I know you’re not sure
So you play it safe
Try to run away
If you take that first step
Into the unknown
He won’t let you go”

Dawn wept as she listened to the song. It became clear to her that she needed a leap of faith, and so she did. Dawn notified the architect she was working with that she had decided to enter a world of the unknown. 

Trusting her gut, she started her first architectural firm in her own house. It felt remarkable for Dawn how quickly she became busy and hired interns to help her. She struck a delicate balance with her professional and personal life and utilized every inch of her home office.

It was only a matter of time before she needed a proper office. The firm was growing, and Dawn Christine wanted to obtain a space in downtown Cary, the seventh-largest municipality in North Carolina.

Several months of place-hunting had passed, yet nothing was clicking. One day, through a referral from a friend, Dawn was introduced to a man who offered her a fantastic office space right in the downtown Cary , and she took that opportunity. Today, it remains the official location of the firm.

Key Architectural Accolades

The firm received recognition for several architectural achievements in over 19 articles. One of its recent achievements was hosting a film crew Mavinga Productions LLC. The crew utilized the office to shoot some parts of the film. Not just that, Dawn Christine and one of her employees, Becky Kelly, also made cameos in the movie.

Enabling a Strong yet Healthy Environment

One pattern Dawn notices specifically in the Architecture industry is the demand for long hours. Typically, the better the design firm or the project, the more demanding your life becomes. She truly believes in the need for our society to create a better work-life balance for everyone involved.

Healthy people create strong yet healthy businesses. According to Dawn Christine, a strong and healthy family is the backbone of a strong community and nation. She emphasizes that the negative mindset toward parents who need time off for family activities, caring for children, and taking care of themselves needs to shift.

In her firm, Dawn treats her employees with respect. She sees them as friends with families who have a life outside of work. She enables a working environment that keeps the priorities of people in the correct order. Moreover, she easily becomes friends with the clients thanks to her down-to-earth approach and genuine concern for them and their projects.

“Faith, Family, Friends, and career. With this approach, we are able to create fresh and fantastic designs because the team isn’t overworked and underappreciated.”

Dawn Christine

Rapid Fire Q&A Session with Dawn Christine

1. Can you tell us which your favorite book is? And your favorite part of the book (if any)?

I love the bible. It is deep enough for a scholar to drown in and shallow enough for a little child to indulge in.

2. Which person do you admire the most? 

Jesus. He saw the raw, unfiltered reality of the human heart and still chose to love and care for people.

3. Whose business story do you find the most inspiring? 

I actually love how Walt Disney came up with the concept for his business. He had humble beginnings and a genuine desire to create something fantastic for people. He created not just a theme park, but a complete experience well thought out from arrival to activities in the park, and departure. 

Each detail is carefully crafted and cared for. This is exactly how I approach architectural design. I approach it from the perspective of crafting an entire experience from beginning to end, from inside to outside, not just a building.

4. What was the point that triggered the Growth of the firm?

I went to a conference in NYC that inspired me and there I gained confidence in building the firm from a business perspective rather than the design side.

5. Which is the most inspiring quote you have read? 

“The flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of all.” 

Walt Disney

6. It is a rat race out there. How do you cope with that? 


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