Portrait – Patrick Daly on intergenerational collaboration

Woods Bagot’s Patrick Daly is ushering in a new wave of architects.

Patrick at Woods Bagot’s London studio. Photo by Principal Simon Saint.

Patrick Daly returns to his native state California after a three-year stint with the London studio. He is back in San Francisco as the Executive Studio Chair and Director.

Daly creates global impact through his multiple leadership roles and vast knowledge of mixed-use and tall buildings. He is widely recognized for his innovative contribution to historically significant, world-renowned, award-winning architecture across the globe, including the Commercial Bay PwC Tower in New Zealand.

Not new to advisory roles – with lecturing experiences spanning the University of California, Berkeley; California College of Arts; and the Boston Architectural Center, and more – the award-winning architect turns to a mentoring role, leveraging intergenerational collaboration to usher in the future wave of Woods Bagot architects.

“If you want a team to succeed, you spend as much time as you can as a leader investing every individual involved in the project with a sense of ownership,” he says. “You make them feel they’re all a part of the invention and the solution, whether it’s the most junior person on the team or the most senior.”

What is it like mentoring newer designers?

“I think that in the context of being a leader or mentor in a situation like this, you can never forget that across the sweep of your career and your own life, you were sitting exactly where Hiroe and Will are now,” he says of two Los Angeles based designers he is working closely with.

“And if you are constantly thinking about that as you are guiding a project, remembering success as well as failure or discomfort, it can enable you to be a more effective leader because one, you get over yourself and two, you’re able to guide with a sensitivity to the context of everybody that you’re working with.”

Patrick Daly with some of the Woods Bagot North America team at the San Francisco open studio 2023.

Multi-authorship collaboration in real time

The World Economic Forum poses that the benefits of intergenerational collaboration are essential to resolving socioeconomic, political, and environmental challenges. Crediting the older generations with perspective and influence and the younger people with numbers and digital connectedness. 

Daly practices intergenerational collaboration by encouraging designers to take ownership, valuing lived experiences at every stage, inviting diverse generational voices into the crux of design challenges, and helping designers bring their authentic selves to work. 

Intergenerational perspectives and trends

He considers that it is crucial to understand what designers care about. For example, he notes that younger generations value sustainability.

“A lot of it is about the social responsibility that’s at the forefront of design thinking,” which was not as present when he started, he says.

Burdened by decisions of the past, newer generations are building flexibly for the future.

“Climate, social issues, and cultural issues: if you are not meeting those demands, I do not think it is fair to call it architecture,” states Woods Bagot Project Leader William Hood. “So, when we talk about sustainability, it’s not just about making a building look sustainable but solving the issues of climate and global warming and addressing the carbon footprint.”

Still, cultivating a design voice, discovering the principles vital to you, and bringing your authentic self to work takes time, says Senior Designer Hiroe Fujimoto.

“Some projects will require you to show your technical strengths while others will require more of your design expertise and perspective, and every opportunity allows you to develop a deeper skillset,” she notes.

Meanwhile, Daly thinks it is paramount to foster an ownership-focused environment to get to a space where intergenerational voices reflect in the design. The three also agree that building trust and adopting two-way mentorship dynamics is pivotal to this kind of collaboration.

“You want to provide enough guidance to anticipate the problem being solved appropriately but without straight jacketing their level of creativity,” says Daly. “This method has given us a level of confidence that we have the right people to be the future leaders of the LA studio.”

Patrick Daly with Woods Bagot Project Leader William Hood and Senior Designer Hiroe Fujimoto at the W-B Los Angeles studio located in the Bradbury building.

“Remembering success as well as failure or discomfort, it can enable you to be a more effective leader….”

Patrick Daly, Director, W-B

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Denise Garcia
Content and Communications Leader (North America)

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