Walker Flashlights: Annie Lo
Director of Restoration, Annie Lo, AIA, LEED AP, is a recent addition to our San Francisco office and is leading the Restoration Team with the expansion of building envelope and waterproofing services. As a licensed Architect with a background in forensic architecture and historic preservation, she brings a wealth of knowledge to Walker and our West Coast presence.
Check out more of her story in this month’s Walker Flashlights!
Q: What led you to pursue a career in architecture and restoration?
A: I really enjoyed Math, Science, and Art History when I was young. I believe Architecture is the combination of all of these fields. I spent two of my summers during Architecture school interning at non-profits dedicated to preserving historic buildings – The Los Angeles Conservancy and the MAK Center for Art + Architecture at the R.M. Schindler House in West Hollywood. Both of these organizations contributed to my interest in restoration and advocacy for historic buildings.
Q: You have attended Columbia University (Masters) and California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo (Bachelors), can you tell us about your college experiences?
A: I was really fortunate to attend two of the top Architecture schools. Cal Poly SLO is a practical design school and provided a great foundation for my technical building and construction knowledge. Columbia is almost the exact opposite and is a think tank that explores the theoretical and digital aspects of Architecture. Both schools have been essential to my career and have provided a wonderful network of alumni. I’m one of the Northern California alumni leaders of Columbia GSAPP (Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation), and we plan quarterly events related to the industry.
Q: During your undergrad, you studied abroad in Italy. Tell us about that.
A: I lived in Florence for a year and studied Renaissance Art and Architecture. All of the famous buildings and structures that I learned about in books became a part of my yearlong travel adventures in Italy and Europe. I recommend an abroad experience for anyone who is interested in, or is studying, Architecture.
Q: What is your favorite piece of architecture?
A: My favorite piece of historic architecture is the Ospedale degli Innocenti (Hospital of the Innocents) designed by Filippo Brunelleschi in Florence. My favorite piece of modern architecture is Renzo Piano’s Parco della Musica Auditorium in Rome.
Q: You recently joined the Walker team, what has been your favorite memory to date?
A: I was surveying a historical building in downtown San Francisco with Loren Reimer of the Denver office. At the end of the survey, we came across a section of concrete slab that was previously cut as an exploratory opening location. The loose section of concrete was conveniently located between two closely parked cars, and there was just enough room for us to squat down in between them. We lifted up the heavy chunk of concrete slab to inspect the structure underneath it, and when we dropped the concrete back into place, a big POOF of dust exploded into our faces.
Q: What is your favorite thing about living in the Golden State?
A: Pasadena and the Rose Parade. I used to live on a street right off of Colorado Boulevard, which is the main parade route. My New Year’s Day memories are full of flower floats, marching bands, and horses. Of course I also enjoy the weather and sunny beaches in California too.
Q: What is the most exciting project you’ve worked on while here at Walker?
A: I’ve been working on an existing plaza deck remediation in San Francisco in which the waterproofing issues are quite complex. It has been exciting in that we discovered some items during construction that were not expected to be part of the as-built conditions. The challenge has been to come up with a practical waterproofing solution that addresses the Owner’s goals and leaves room for future work to be completed.
Q: You have begun work on new construction building envelope projects, tell us about this process? Do you approach new construction waterproofing projects differently than when working on existing buildings?
A: There are a lot more options when consulting on new construction projects. You start with learning the Architect’s design and focus specifically on the exterior systems. We advise on what would make each assembly ideal in terms of building envelope performance – below-grade waterproofing, plaza/podium configuration, walls, windows, balconies, and roofing. There are a lot of products and materials to choose from, and different waterproofing membranes are distinct in chemistry and performance. As building envelope consultants, we know which products are compatible with one another and recommend what works best with the design intent. For existing buildings, the evaluation and repair recommendations are key. Given X, Y, and Z as factors of the existing conditions, we determine a few repair options and weigh in on the pros and cons of each recommendation in order to arrive at the best solution.
Q: What is one piece of advice you’d give someone interested in joining the building envelope and restoration industry?
A: Join Walker! It is an attractive company and our Restoration Team is unique with experts who are strong in building envelope and forensic engineering. We are growing rapidly so there is a lot of opportunity, and it’s a very exciting time for Walker. We are working on some amazing projects and are interested in getting more Engineers and Architects involved in what we do.
Q: In your downtime, what might we find you doing?
A: I’m usually at the dog park with my husband and Weimaraner dog named Cyrus. Weimaraners are very active dogs and they need a lot of exercise, but they rarely get tired. Cyrus is 2-1/2 years old, weighs 72 pounds, and came to us as a puppy from a kennel located in Big Sky, Montana.
Q: What is the San Francisco office looking forward to in 2017?
A: Building up the San Francisco Restoration Team. The SF office is growing, and we are moving into a new space in March. We are looking forward to getting more exposure in the Bay Area and the West Coast. Walker will be presenting technical topics at the RCI Convention in Anaheim in March, as well as at the local CSI East Bay and AIA East Bay Chapters in April, so I am looking forward to those opportunities.
Thank you, Annie!
If you’d like to get in touch with Annie, you can reach her here.
Please note, the San Francisco office will have a new address effective April 3rd. You can find them at 601 California Street, Suite 820, San Francisco, CA 94108.