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Meet Bryn Young of BYoung Design in La Jolla

Today we’d like to introduce you to Bryn Young.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
My design story began in 1939 when my great grandfather, an Architect, moved to La Jolla with his wife and two daughters from New York. His daughter grew up to marry a fellow La Jollan, who then had four kids. One of their sons was my father, Ron Nau, who started working in the construction industry as a kid and grew to develop his own General Construction firm, Nau Builders, which has been in La Jolla for 35 years. My Dad also married a 2nd Generation La Jollan, setting our roots down deep in this small town.

Growing up, I was always immersed and in love with the built world. My dad and I would take nightly walks to discuss the local architecture. I was told I would make a great interior designer from a young age and didn’t even think about architecture as an option until I was in college. Women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) is a huge topic today, but when I was growing up it wasn’t talked about.

Once I started my undergrad in interior design, I KNEW I wanted to be an architect. I was even critiqued in school by professors for thinking too much about the architecture and not enough about the interior. So, I finished my BFA in Interior Design and tacked on a minor in Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management because I knew one day I’d own my own firm.

I returned to La Jolla after graduation to work for my Dad’s company. This was a great opportunity for me to learn the construction side of design, estimating, and details. We began a design-build side of the company, which allowed me to start designing projects of my own.

After about two years, I decided it was time to pursue my Masters in Architecture. I continued working and designing projects while in school. Then right before my thesis year, my husband and I found out we were expecting our first child. Instead of letting the pregnancy hold me back, I worked hard and powered through up until my due date. I’ll never forget meeting with my thesis advisor the day before my due date and her saying “are you sure you should be here?” I was definitely known as the pregnant girl on campus! Our daughter was born in January, healthy and happy, and in June, I submitted my final thesis and graduated with my masters. My thesis went on to receive an AIA Award!

Once the craziness of my graduate program and newborn life were over, I decided to continue with my firm instead of working for another. I probably would not have had the guts to do this if I didn’t have a baby. But, having my own firm allowed me to be home with my daughter and work on my terms. This was the best decision I ever made!

My company has officially been in business for about five years now. I’ve worked on projects all over San Diego, everything from small kitchen remodels to large 2-story additions and remodels. We’re continuing to grow and develop and I’m excited to see where BYoung Design will be in another five years. I love what I do and wouldn’t change it for the world!

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Becoming a licensed architect is hard! Anyone who will tell you differently is lying. One of the hardest decisions was whether or not to pursue becoming an Architect. After receiving a BFA in Interior Design, I could work in the design industry, even run a design firm. But I knew in my heart, I wouldn’t be satisfied until I was a licensed Architect. I didn’t want to wake up in 20 years with any regrets. So, even though I knew the path to licensure was going to be long and arduous, I decided to move forward. Now, after seven years of school, 4,000+ hours of work experience with a licensed professional, five years of running my own firm, and 5 national licensing exams, I still have 2 more exams until I am officially licensed.

In California, you need to complete 6 national Architectural Registration Exams, plus an equally hard California exam to become licensed. Each exam has a 49-51% pass rate. It’s not for the faint of heart! But now that I’ve been going through it, I understand why. Architects are responsible for the health, safety, and welfare of the general public. Licensed architects must be well prepared to protect these responsibilities.

With only 2 more exams, I am hoping to be licensed within the next few months. The journey has been long! Luckily, I am still able to do what I love, but I never refer to myself as an architect which is important for people to know. I don’t get that opportunity until I am officially licensed. Anyone who tells me they are interested in becoming an architect, I just tell them to look at it like getting your medical license. The average path to licensure is 10 years, but for many, it’s a lot more than that. It’s hard and weeds out those that are not passionate about the subject. But, if you love architecture, it’s worth it!

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about BYoung Design – what should we know?
BYoung Design covers multiple facets of design including remodels, new construction, ADUs, and site design. We primarily work along the coast from Point Loma to La Jolla. Our favorite projects are ones that challenge us creatively and have a sustainability aspect.

We’re about to start construction on a really exciting new companion unit right now. It’s our favorite so far because the owners gave us creative freedom to design what we wanted. This allowed us to focus on sustainable and passive design strategies, which produced a fun, unique building.

When designing a new building, we always make sure to take into consideration the homeowner’s program, as well as the specific site. Every site is unique and requires a different design to account for its uniqueness. This is why our projects are never one-fits-all designs. It’s important to us that our clients receive maximum natural daylighting, views, ventilation, and comfort. Each site requires a different approach to achieve this.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Integrity, passion, and perseverance are all qualities I feel are important to succeed in this industry. Integrity is important in the design industry because problems will always arise and it is important to be able to handle them with honesty and honor. Passion and perseverance are both necessary because you can’t be afraid to fail. You have to remain optimistic, with your eye on the goal, even when slip-ups happen.

It is also important to remove your ego from design. It is stereotypical for architects to have big egos, but when it comes down to it, when the ego is involved it can only be hurt. We are here to design for our clients and the environment, not ourselves. The best part of this career is talking to past clients who have been living in their homes after the design is complete and hearing the way they describe it. Hearing a happy client explain how they have a favorite spot in the house, how they love the way the light comes in at certain times of the day, or the way the design has completely changed their home is what it is all about. Their satisfaction, at the end of the day, makes it all worth it!

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Image Credit:
Elyse Clark, Michael Piatt

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