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News > General > Hispanic Heritage: An interview with Alma du Solier

Hispanic Heritage: An interview with Alma du Solier

24 Oct 2023

By Kate Mazade (Madame Architect)

“New Chapters: Hood Design Studio’s Alma Du Solier on Landscape, Legacy, and Holding on to Your Power”

Madame Architect is a digital magazine and media start-up that focuses on celebrating women in the architecture industry, founded by trained architect, Julia Gamolina.

Alma Du Solier is a Mexican-American landscape architect and studio director at Hood Design Studio, an award-winning cultural practice merging landscape architecture, public art, and urban design in Oakland, California. She is an architect in her home country Mexico and has been practicing in the US since 1999, leading the design of diverse landscape projects in complex urban settings. She is a recurrent design instructor at UC Berkeley and is the board director for the Landscape Architecture Foundation.

In her interview Alma talks about designing new chapters for sites, empowering a great team, and working to have a positive impact on one person or site at a time.

Interview Highlights:

“Looking back at it all, what have been the biggest challenges? How did you both manage through perceived disappointments or setbacks?”

“I think the biggest challenges have been creating and empowering a great design team. I became a team leader relatively early in my career, and I’ve been looking into team dynamics ever since. Design is not a solo endeavor; building a strong team is the only way to be a successful designer.”

“Who are you admiring now and why?”

“I’m really inspired by Stacey Abrams right now. I read a quote from her when she lost her 2022 race for Governor of Georgia: “You can’t give up the power you have trying to get the power you want.” I admire that she has stayed true to her principles despite the losses in her gubernatorial campaigns. She has transformed the political arena in Georgia–and I would argue a bit the country—by not losing sight of her power. It resonated tremendously with me on a personal level. I feel we live in a constant power-balancing struggle, both as women and as designers, and we must keep at it despite setbacks because we are responsible for making things better.”

“Finally, what advice do you have for those starting their career? Would your advice be any different for women?”

“Try everything, and then try it again. I constantly hear from my younger staff and my students that they don’t want to be pigeonholed into something they do well. They perceive it as limiting or not what they want for the rest of their careers. I say, let people label you an expert in anything you do great; they recognize you as an asset. If you feel that the label they have given you does not fully define you, then continue to do that work but, at the same time, add more skills and other areas of expertise to your work. Do not ask to be “given the opportunity” to do something you are not doing at this moment; just start doing it on top of what you already do.”

Read the entire interview with Alma:

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