March Professional Member of the Month | Kate Arnest


Kate Arnest

Arnest Architecture, LLC

Principal and Owner

Our profession is built on the value of relationships and opportunities; how do you prepare for a meeting with a new client? I do mostly residential architecture so my first meetings are with a builder or a homeowner. I visit the site prior to the meeting so I know the orientation to the sun, views, and other structures. If it is a builder, then I research them and find at least 3 things in common to discuss. If it is a homeowner, then I want to be prepared with examples of the style they are interested in. I have lived and worked in California and Colorado so my portfolio has a wide range of styles. I want them to see something that I have done that they connect with.

We often design to improve the health of people and the environment; how do you wind down in the evenings to maintain a balanced lifestyle? We have twin 8 year-old girls so I spend time with my family and we sit down for dinner together every night. We each tell our rose, bud and thorn from the day. The rose is something good that happened, the thorn something bad and the bud something to look forward to tomorrow. Then I need an hour of ME time before I fall asleep and that’s usually my reading time.

In 2017 technology is at our fingertips - what is your favorite app and/or website? Houzz is a fabulous tool. My clients just send me the link to their Ideabooks and I make it a reality. The Jeld-Wen Egress calculator is a super quick way to check my window schedules. You just pick the window type and the size and it lets you know if it is compliant or not.

As professionals we are versed in community interaction and collaboration; what are you involved in outside the realm of architecture/design? Since I started my own firm and have my office at home, I have found a wonderful life/work balance. It has allowed me to have a flexible schedule so I volunteer weekly in each of my kids’ classrooms and I’m the team manager for their soccer team. I’m in two book clubs and I love to bike. I’m part of a RAGBRAI team to raise awareness for my friends’ 9 year-old son who has MPS Hunter’s syndrome.

We are Iowa Women in Architecture; who were the female role models that inspired you? After graduating from Iowa State, I went to the University of Colorado for my Masters in Architecture and also worked for an architect who did some expert witness work. I would go by myself to the destructive testing sites to take photos and record the results. It was fascinating work and I learned so much. However, I was always the only female amongst engineers, contractors and other architects. I was constantly being grilled on my credentials and experience, and it was irritating and slightly humiliating.

But then I took a building materials class and Virginia Grote was my instructor. She was also the project architect for a large condo complex that was under construction and she took us there for many site visits. She was well respected on the jobsite and proudly wore a pink hard hat. She was so knowledgeable about construction and she was a beacon for me. She was smart, tough and confident. My goal from then on was get my license so that nobody would be able to question me again. I did that and now, in honor of Virginia, my hard hat is pink!