Katie is an architect, an author, photographer and many other things based in Warren Rhode Island. She’s passionate about residential architecture, specifically small projects. She’s the author of The New Small House and she’s currently working on a new book.
This week on EntreArchitect Podcast, Living a Portfolio Life with Katie Hutchison.
Katie’s Origin Story
Architecture didn’t come to Katie early. She was most interested in writing when she was younger and she pursued that initially. Throughout her early childhood and education, she was very interested in fine arts; she drew, painted, and felt like she was very spatially aware.
After her degree, she went to work for magazines, including US Magazine, in Manhattan. Her friend worked for Robert A. M. Stern, and she ended up with a temporary position in the Publicity department there. She worked in the slide library of architecture from around the world. Katie spent hours in the tiny room going through the slides.
After that, she decided to go back to school and her family connections brought her to the Newport, Rhode Island. She called the head of Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and inquired about their architecture program; they only had an undergraduate program and she wanted to know if they had any suggestions. They suggested that Katie enroll as a transfer student, essentially using her prior credits to advance as far as possible and then take the remaining courses required for a Bachelors of Architecture degree.
Upon graduating in 1992 during a recession, Katie started at a Benefit Street Design, a firm in Providence that specialized in commercial interiors. After that, she jumped around a lot at many firms based on where her and her husband relocated to.
When did you officially start practicing?
Katie went out on her own in 2002. Shortly thereafter, she collaborated with an architect friend in Cape Cod which helped bring in some consistent work and get her off the ground. She has various other interests in addition to architecture, so her view of the small firm life is diversified.
Not long after she went out on her own, she began freelance writing for Fine Homebuilding. It was a great way to keep her thinking about design and build some publicity. That’s what started her along the journey to eventually write her book.
Katie had a friend who worked for another publication at The Taunton Press and continued to pitch them her ideas.
Why did you decide to be a sole practitioner?
Like any other career choices, Katie’s career evolved from who she was. She always followed design-oriented pursuits and didn’t want to do just one thing to the exclusion of the others. She loves the change in activity, bouncing around between writing, billing, administrative work, phone calls, and more.
How did you begin writing your book?
In 2007, she started pitching book ideas to The Taunton Press. They brought her in for a meeting to discuss concepts and figure out what was marketable. Because of the recession in 2008, her first book idea was killed. One day, she got a call that they had a book idea in the queue but no author to write it. In Katie’s case, it wasn’t a straightforward path, it was a lot of back and forth and working toward a goal.
What are you working on next?
The working title of Katie’s new book is The Cottage Now, and on her blog, House Enthusiast, she has a call for submissions spelling out some of the specifics of what she and her team are looking for along the lines of what does the cottage look like now? If you have a submission for something you think is a cottage, send it her way!
Call for Submissions
Do you have a submission for Katie’s cottage book?
If you know of a new (or newly renovated) cottage that you think I should consider including in the book, please let her know. For now, simply email Katie at Katie@katiehutchison.com some low-resolution jpegs of the exterior, interior, and context, along with some background information about the size of the cottage, where it’s located, who owns it, who designed it, if it has been professionally photographed, and if it has been featured in another publication. Also, please let her know if you’re aware of any architectural drawings that depict its plan and its site.
What is the one thing that small firm architects can do today to build a better business for tomorrow?
“Get connected. Do things that mean something to you and that you want to invest your time and energy into. Join organizations, groups, and committees in a field you’re interested in, you’ll meet people who are interesting to you. Those contacts will ultimately lead you closer to what you want to do.” – Katie Hutchison
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