We had the good fortune of connecting with Samantha Hill and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Samantha, what do you want people to remember about you?
We’re experiencing a trans-formative time in history. We began this new decade with what seems like insurmountable challenges. Exposure of our inadequate emergency response systems to a world-wide health crisis, economic inequality, gender discrimination, rampant racism, political polarity, massive injustices, and a complete loss of trust in our leadership have surfaced and are boiling over. There’s a lot to grapple both intellectually and emotionally. I look in the mirror daily and ask myself, “Am I part of the problem or part of the solution? The problem is clear, but what am I actually supposed to do to change it? What do I have the power to change?” For me, the answer comes in the form of creating equitable housing for our communities. I started my architecture career working on glamorous projects- a Guggenheim museum, national sports stadium, beachfront boutique hotel, NBC television studios, and high-end market high-rise condominiums. I was honored and proud to have worked on such amazing projects. Most architects can only dream of the opportunities I was lucky enough to experience. But honestly, something felt like it was missing. I will never forget the day I decided I wasn’t where I should be, where I NEEDED to be. I was working on the design of a penthouse condominium for a project in San Francisco. Business Insider had just published an article stating the penthouse I was designing would be the most expensive condo ever sold in the City. My stomach started to churn. I physically felt nauseous! I became an architect to positively impact our built environment AND to make a difference in our communities. The architecture I was creating wasn’t fulfilling. It wasn’t addressing the community at all. I decided to act. I switched directions to work on a public project for the LA County Department of Mental Health. It was so rewarding to feel like I was giving back to the community, that I was having a real impact. But something was still missing for me. How could that be? Why didn’t I feel satisfied? I was confused by the void I felt. Luckily, I’ve learned time will eventually answer all questions, and the answer came the day my previous employer asked me to join a new multifamily project. I was so ecstatic to be moving back into multifamily work. I had butterflies in my stomach. I knew at that moment my purpose is to create housing. Housing that is accessible for all. Housing that is affordable. Housing that is helping to close (and eventually eliminate) inequality. Housing that builds communities. Frankly, I don’t want people to remember me. I want the housing I create to bestow equality in our communities.

What should our readers know about your business?
At Design With Skill our founding principles are built on collaboration, community, and equality. Our company was formed to help alleviate the housing shortage. It is our mission to design and create multifamily housing and mixed-use projects that build communities. Design With Skill offers full architecture services from pro-forma and site analysis, to planning, concept design, design development, construction documentation and construction administration. We also offer consulting services for accessibility/ADA design compliance. We work through various project delivery methods depending on each projects needs, including design-build and public-private-partnerships. We engage local government agencies and look for opportunities to collaborate with other architects who share our community-based approach. We are excited to have been recently selected in a joint venture partnership to work with the Housing Department in the City of Pasadena on a new affordable housing program. We are in the early stages, but excited to be pioneering a local solution for our housing crisis. Additionally, we believe in equitable design for all. We offer consulting services as Certified Access Specialist (CASp 932) for accessibility/ADA review compliance. We recently applied as a joint venture partnership for the Accessible Housing Program Expert Architects contract through the Los Angeles Housing and Community Investment Department (HCID) to facilitate accessibility upgrades to over 4,000 housing units located throughout the City. Design With Skill believes the only way to really understand our communities is to be fully immersed. Our founder, Samantha Hill, is Vice-Chair on South Pasadena’s Design Review Board. The Board serves as an advisory committee to ensure design and construction work done within the City enhances the character and quality, while maintaining our strong history. We are a small firm, and we like to partner with other architects, developers, or contractors to pursue large scale work. If you are also looking to work with a like-minded, collaborative team, please reach out to info@designwithskill.com or call 747-900-2082.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
When someone important in my life comes to visit me, I believe it’s my duty to create opportunities that immerse them in the local culture. They should BECOME a local. I would insist on them staying at my house, but if they wanted privacy, I’d recommend booking a room at the Langham. We could relax with drinks and appetizers on the patio at The Tap Room. I would take them to stroll through the Arboretum or Descanso Gardens one afternoon. We could grab tea at Huntington Gardens. To get in some exercise, we’d walk (or run!) a couple of laps around Rose Bowl stadium, and possibly take advantage of the Flea Market if it’s the right Sunday. I wouldn’t want them to miss shopping in Old Town Pasadena one afternoon, if only to admire the quaint character of the street. I would make sure we would get some fun and laughs in during a game of miniature golf at the Arroyo Seco Golf Course in South Pasadena. I’d also make sure we got a chance to walk around Alhambra Park to people watch and catch a little Tai Chi in action. If they bring their kids, we’d venture over to Kidspace to experience one of the best children’s museum in the State. Or maybe a puppet show at Bob Baker’s new theater in Highland Park. We could follow it up with a trip to Dinosaur Farm to treat the kiddos to some wonderful toys and walk a couple blocks over to Cookies and Cream to sample their exotic ice cream flavors with amazing handmade cookies. In the evening we would catch a play at the Pasadena Playhouse. I’d also want to stop by Mission Wines in South Pasadena for some magnificent wine tasting. With all of the activities and treats, we would definitely need to fuel up on some of Gus’s famous BBQ. And brunch at Nicole’s Cafe or Fiore Market Cafe for delicious sandwiches. Maybe we’d try Mike and Anne’s for dinner. Or the Raymond for delicious food with a taste of history. Or maybe we’d get adventurous one evening and take the Gold Line into Downtown LA (DTLA) for some dinner at Bavel. Or stop in Chinatown at Majordomo. I would finish the visit with brunch at Lost Parrot Cafe on Sunday morning to get a real taste of the local South Pasadena culture.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
We succeed only through the help of others. There are numerous people and companies that have helped Design With Skill develop into the company it is today. I would like to specifically shoutout to Crux Studio, a fellow local architecture firm in South Pasadena owned and operated by Mark Smeaton and Rebecca Thompson. They have introduced me to the local building community. I am forever grateful for their help and guidance. I would also like to shoutout to Girl Friday, a personal assistant service company owned and operated by Cindi Knight. Our marketing and accounting efforts would not have been possible without their amazing service.

Website: https://designwithskill.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/designwithskill/?hl=en
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/samantha-hill-97899a4/
Other: https://www.pinterest.com/designwithskill/

Image Credits
Head shot by Robin Foley Portraits