Alison knew from an early age that she wanted to be an architect. When she was in high school, she took as many drafting and engineering classes that she could to help her prepare for college. She also took any opportunity available to learn as much as she could including participating in an unpaid internship at a local architectural firm during her junior year. As soon as she was handed her diploma, she was off to college and completely prepared to declare her major in architecture from day one.
When asked if she has ever felt out of place in a job because she is a woman, Alison said that there were many times when she had to sit through meetings in which she was the person that had done all the work from drafting to managing the project and watch as the clients, contractors and engineers deferred questions to her male colleagues instead of looking to her for answers. Ultimately, those colleagues would defer those questions to her, but this gave her a feeling of having to prove herself and her capabilities time and time again. Not being taken seriously in a profession that she had devoted so much time and energy to was disheartening but Alison says that she has noticed a shift and there are more women coming into the architectural industry as well as an increase in the number of leadership roles that are being filled by women.
When Alison was laid off in 2010 and then again in 2012, right after the birth of her first child she realized that no one was going to give her the flexibility that she wanted for her family. She decided to start her own firm and said that with the help of a former employer, Chuck Travis with Housing Studio PA who gave her her first contract job, she successfully launched Alison Hall Architect Inc. and now has the flexibility to balance her work and her family as well as financial freedom. Chuck was always willing to give her advice and teach her how to grow her business; 10 years later she is still working on projects for him.
When asked if she could go back and give her 18-year-old self some advice, Alison says that she would tell her to follow her hopes and dreams but to be okay if there are any bumps in the road. Her journey has been full of twists and turns and says that even though she isn’t in the position that she thought she would be in, she wouldn’t change her current situation for anything.