C L Wales is the assistant development manager for Fort Hood Family Housing. C L provides management services for design and revitalization of existing residential units for our military families, as well as project management for new community centers. Ms. Wales is responsible for developing scopes of work and specifications in preparation of proposal request documents, contracts projects, manages change orders, develops and maintains project budgets, manages and coordinates with all contractors and other team members.
Ms. Wales always had an interest in the arts, she followed art show circuits selling many of her own paintings. Oil paints were her medium of choice; however, she worked with acrylics, chalks, pen and ink, and charcoal. She also sculpted using sandstone, wood, plaster, bronze (the lost wax method), along with various scrap metals, etc.
Another of her many interests is architectural history, and construction techniques used in historic buildings, along with the intricate detailing and fine finish trims, both inside and outside.
Ms. Wales’ career path has exposed her to amazing forms of architecture and construction. She has designed and produced construction documents for metal buildings, industrial facilities, equestrian centers, office, schools, and church facilities, apartment complexes with management facilities, shopping centers, chain retail facilities, speculative new retail facilities and rebranding retail facilities. In her career, Ms. Wales’ has inspected projects under construction, designed new buildings, has written specifications for construction documents, prepared proposal requests for new construction and renovations, and contracted and managed the revitalization of substandard housing. Ms Wales has had the fortune of being the project architect on multiple 10,000 + square foot homes in the North Park area in Dallas, Texas. These multi million dollar homes were extremely detailed on the exterior as well as the interior, requiring detailing of copper dormer window frames through detailing of cornices and wall and ceiling moldings on the interior. The designs evolved from the Biltmore Mansion, the Breakers and many of the turn of the century mansions. The architecture extended through to the yards that became extravagant pool areas with cabanas, strolling and reflecting spaces. Antique marble fireplace mantels, salvaged antique wood flooring, antique tile floors and walls, timber beams, and antique or handcrafted railings were incorporated into the homes. Some of the homes were constructed of heavy timber framing.
Ms. Wales attributes her success to diligence; passion for her profession, her positive can do attitude, and a profound desire to gain further knowledge in architecture and all phases of construction, coming out of the ground all the way through the turn over of Certificates of Occupancy, either through her own past experiences or those of others.
Ms. Wales received a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Design from Texas A&M University.
In her spare time, she passionately collects fine antiques; furniture, crystal, ornate figurines, and jewelry. She also enjoys studying; historic structures; buildings, bridges, mausoleums, fountains, architectural antiques and art. On the home front she; volunteers with various organizations, cultivates house plants, reads, makes jewelry, and fills Christmas baskets for the often forgotten elderly. She also enjoys numerous publications, including The Antiques Magazine, Architectural Digest, Professional Builder, Texas Architect, Progressive Architecture and Forbes.
Conversation with C.L. Wales
Worldwide Publishing: What characteristics help to separate you from your competitors?
C.L. Wales: My positive “Can Do” attitude, my ability to think outside the box, as well as my extensive experience.
What motivates you?
I have an undying desire to excel in everything that I wish to accomplish. I get a great deal of pleasure watching people interact in and around the structures I have been involved in, as far as the design, production of construction documents, and coordinating and managing the construction.
How did you become involved in your field?
I applied to several art schools throughout the country and was accepted to one in California; unfortunately, there was no way I could financially manage to pay out-of- state tuition. I began looking into colleges in Texas. I visited Texas A&M University and instantly knew this was the school for me. However, A & M did not offer a school of art; instead A & M offered a school of architecture. During our pre-registration conference, the head of the School of Environmental Design gave a presentation on what students should expect in the world of architecture. As his presentation continued he explained that this field of study was exceptionally difficult. Architects have to know a great deal about all aspect of a project. Above all else, architecture is a “MAN’S” world. There were three women in the conference from the beginning. However, as time went on, and as the head of our department began slamming his fist on the tables in front of us, and as he continued discussing the hardest job in the world and how we, women, would never make it, the other two women eventually got up and left. I remained steadfast with the attitude that I can do whatever I set my mind to.
On what topic(s) do you consider yourself to be an expert?
I have a great deal of experience in site utilities tying into new building utilities. Most design disciplines no longer, due to liability, coordinate with other disciplines to confirm that conflicts will not occur. These conflicts can cost the owner a great deal of money, and the construction schedule to change excessively.
I also have a great deal of experience with construction materials, methods and techniques used in new and old structures.
What lessons have you learned as a professional in your field for the past 30 years?
Acquiring your degree from college is not the end of your educational process. If you desire to succeed in your career path, you absolutely must get out in the field to watch buildings under construction. Observe the entire building process, all of the materials and methods used, sketch what you see, and if you don’t understand what is being built, take your sketches to an architect and ask about the detail. This is exactly what I did without fail, personally investing in my career. This is a lifelong process. You cannot learn and understand by sitting behind a computer screen.
What short-term and long-term career goals are you currently pursuing?
My current professional short-term goal is to become LEED certified.
My current professional long-term goal is to learn about forensic architecture.
How do you plan to achieve these goals?
I will enroll in classes, continue to read, study, and observe LEED-certified projects and forensic architects in action.
What is the most significant issue facing your profession today?
Architects and draftsmen do not typically have the hands-on experience of observing how buildings are constructed. In turn, they have no understanding of what information is required in the construction documents to make the building constructible.
Within the last 10 or so years, clients have increased their expectations of designs while decreasing the time for architects and engineers to produce construction documents. In addition, professional liability has skyrocketed; therefore, architects no longer spend the necessary time coordinating the construction documents of other disciplines involved in the project. This, along with the lack of understanding what drawings and dimensions a contractor requires to construct a building, causes excessive cost increases in change orders to correct material installation that is in conflict with framing materials and other materials that have been or will be installed.
What are some questions that an individual interested in your services can ask to ensure a more productive relationship?
Are my schedule expectations adequate for you to produce and coordinate in-house plans as well as plans for all other design disciplines?
Do you fully understand all codes, accessibility regulations, etc? Are you willing to pay for corrections due to your errors? This will include your design time and any areas incorrectly constructed due to your errors.
Will you manage all design disciplines, especially once the project is under construction, understanding that there are time constraints that must be met in order to avoid delaying the construction process? Will you incorporate this requirement into the design disciplines contracts?
Did you ever consider pursuing a different career path or profession? If yes, how did you end up working in your current field?
My career in architecture and construction was meant to be.
What do you find to be the most rewarding about your profession?
It is very rewarding when I’m watching people interact with enthusiasm and excitement, in and around one of my projects during construction and upon completion.
I am proud of working with Fort Hood Family Housing, improving and maintaining homes occupied by our military families. This is a great opportunity for me to give back, to a tiny degree, to our deployed military risking their lives for our freedom.
I worked with the Community Development Department, inspecting, designing and contracting to bring substandard homes up to code. Many of these homes were single-wall construction with shipping pallets for the floor framing. These homes had no central air and heat; the homes were commonly heated by open-flame space heaters. Typically, kitchen sinks were plumbed with cold water only; otherwise, there was no indoor plumbing. Instead, residents had outhouses and water troughs in the kitchen so that water could be boiled on the gas stove and poured into the trough for baths. These homes were not accessible and always had roof leaks and broken windows. The only reason the residents would call was to see if we would just patch the leak in their roof so it would not drip on them while they tried to sleep. Once we finished bringing these homes up to code and moved the residents back into their homes, they were in awe of the fact that they had indoor bathrooms and central air and heat. These residents would practically fall off their front porches waving and thanking us. These residents were the most thankful and loving people I have ever worked with.
What is your favorite or least-favorite work-related task to do and why?
My least favorite task is going up on steep, sloped roofs. This is due to an incidentof a near fall from a parapet wall some years ago. I prefer to stay away from heights unless I am wearing my proper fall protection equipment.
My favorite task is solving site issues and construction dilemmas.
What advice can you offer fellow members or others aspiring to work in your industry?
Get out there, sit on the curb across the street from construction sites and draw details as a building is under construction. Learn what the lines you are drawing mean before you draw them.
Who have been your mentors or people who have greatly influenced you?
The greatest mentors in my life have been my parents. My mom and dad always supported my artistic creativity and of course helped me with setting up and tearing down at all of the art shows in which I participated. Throughout these years they always reminded me that I could do anything I put my mind to.
The head of the Department of Environmental Design was one of my professors; his name is John Only Greer, He became my first and most influential professional mentor.
A few years ago I met Dr. Raymond Etheridge through a business contact. He became a dear friend and business mentor.
What changes have you observed in your industry/field since you started?
I have seen huge changes in both architecture and construction. There is more of an acceptance of women in the field. Construction materials and methods have continued to evolve. Safety practices have become more stringent. Sustainability is key in all materials used in the construction of projects. More and more design disciplines are involved in the design and inspection processes; therefore, more subcontractors are involved in the construction process.
How do you see these changes affecting the future of your industry?
Design and construction managers must manage all of these additional teams with a complete understanding of each discipline’s specialization, as well as the coordination and implementation of all additional scopes of work.
What is the most difficult obstacle or challenge you have faced in pursuit of your goals?
Architecture and construction are both male-dominated professions.
Do you have a motto that you live by?
Where there is a will, there is always a way!