Talking Women in Architecture with SGA Principal Ariane Tattershall

Ariane Tatershall


This month we sat down with SGA Principal, Ariane Tattershall, to talk women in architecture, big projects, and travel. 


What inspired you to become an architect?
I really don’t have an “aha” moment when I could say the light bulb went off and architecture was calling my name. Growing up, my mom was always the person doing the handy work around the house. Most of the time my sister and I, mostly I, had to be on stand-by to help her in some form or fashion. Also, my mom always has had a creative hobby like china painting, so we watched her doing artistic things. But ultimately, my dad told me I should take an aptitude test before moving to the US. The results of all the tests they did suggested the profession of architecture. I had a strong awareness of being able to visualize 3-dimensional space. So, I went with it.

Today, nearly half of SGA’s employees are women. How have you seen the role of women in architecture change throughout your career?
I think some of the change I’ve seen is a generational shift.  More women who have studied architecture are practicing architecture and have more options these days to balance family and work. My belief is that women have to work harder than men do in order to succeed. We need more men to start to support their female colleagues and recognize their achievements. I’m proud to be one of two women owners at SGA Design Group who have been recognized and supported. Standing with women in solidarity can alter the way women are valued. People of different genders, ages, and backgrounds helping each other can only enrich the practice of architecture.

What words of advice would you offer young girls wishing to pursue a career in architecture today?
Figure out where you want your career to be and then have a game plan and stick to it. Also, through mentoring, emerging female architects can begin to overcome the lack of advancement opportunities. It is important for someone to guide you through the process of career advancement, to progress in the architecture profession, offering networking opportunities and possibly considering you for promotion so that you can realize your path to a higher position.

Are you currently working on any big projects outside of work?
Yes, my husband and I are building an overlook/deck at our lake property. On a steep hill, over cliffs, mind you! I was browsing through a social media app and found this awesome picture of a place that had multiple decks cantilevering over cliffs overlooking the ocean. It was so cool that it inspired us to do the same thing on our lake property. What a chore, not to mention how scary it is working on a steep incline on one side and a 25 foot drop off on the other side. Good thing my husband, being a firefighter, has the proper training for rescue, as we did most of the work with safety harnesses and equipment tied off to something. Let me tell you, it’s a good workout and my calves screamed at the end of each day from having to go up and down that hill. But I know the end result will be well worth it. I can’t wait to enjoy the beautiful sunsets.

We know that you grew up in Switzerland. Tell us about your favorite thing to do when you go “home” to visit.
Visiting and catching up with family and friends. Other than my parents who live in the Tulsa area, all of my relatives including my sister are still in Switzerland/Germany. When I go back, I usually tour the country going from one group to another to see as many folks as I can within the short amount of time that I can be there. Of course, I try to eat lots of bread, cheese, and desserts that I haven’t been able to enjoy in a long time. I can’t forget Swiss chocolate either; that’s still the best in the world.