Indigenous Design Studio + Architecture, LLC Paves Way for Native Design says Construction Reporter
Industry: Commerical Building
IDS + A's all-native team includes two of only five female Native American registered architects across the nation, paving way for Native American and female architects
southwestern (PRUnderground) November 18th, 2014
Tamarah Begay, Owner/CEO/Lead Architect and Project Manager at IDS + A was the first registered female Navajo architect across the globe. She was also the youngest Albuquerque-based architect and planning firm when she started the business two years agao at the age of 32. She grew up with many family members owning construction firms, which paved the way for her interest.
Begay helped her father design and build his home, which deepened her interest in the field. She says it was also the strong women in her family who modeled for her the spirit, tenacity, and work-ethic required to thrive in a profession still overwhelmingly dominated by white men.
“The women in my family would tell me—‘whatever you put your mind to, you can do it.’ I always saw them worker super hard for what they wanted. There were a lot of strong-headed women on both my Dad and Mom’s side, including my Grandmother, who was a medicine woman. And my Mom was a big inspiration—she worked day and night, she was a role model for me.”
Begay’s had worked for 12 years for other firms, both native and non native prior to opening her own. After just two years IDS + A is developing an impressive portfolio of projects including the Kaibeto Independent Center Living Center, Upper Fruitland Senior Citizen Center, Twin Arrows Navajo Casino and Resort Renovations, San Ildefonso Land Use Plan, and Lodge Pole Trading Post in Lodge Pole, Montana near the Canadian border.
Begay shares that while working for other firms she was told whe would never become a project manager or own her own firm, which just spurred her on to prove them wrong.
“I don’t think they really knew who I am. I’m a competitor at heart. You want to put your bet on me because I will get it done and do something that is very successful.”
The IDS+A team includes Tamarah Begay, Owner/Lead Architect; Project Manager/ Registered Architect (Michigan) Jan Tifrea–also one of the five Native female registered architects in the nation, Construction Administrator Gail Brown, Intern Architect’s Christina Horton, Theodore Edaakie and Geraldene Blackgoat, Intern Planner Jamie Watchman and Marketing Coordinator Christine Means.
Many members of the team are involved in efforts to open doors for the next generation of Native American, minority, and female architects.
Begay and Tifrea both serve on board for the American Indian Council of Architects and Engineers (AICAE) with Begay as a founding member of the UNM Student AICAE. Edaakie is the President of the AICAE student chapter at UNM – where he was recently inducted into the prestigious Tau Sigma Delta Honor Society. Begay additionally serves on a multitude of committees for the national AIA to support greater diversity within the architecture field.
Though all of IDS + A’s current projects are tribal, the firm’s next goal is to design urban projects in Albuquerque, which Begay sees the firm as more than qualified to accomplish, as Albuquerque, non tribal projects pose fewer challenges than designing and building tribal projects in rural, remote areas and having to navigate multiple entities.
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