August 22, 2022

People of Republic Feature: Thalia Andreoglou

“My dad accidentally brainwashed me,” Thalia Andreoglou recalls when asked how she decided to be an architect. Unbeknownst to her, the ‘computer game’ her father introduced her to was a floor planning tool and not a game at all.

The rest is history.

Q1: What three words would you use to describe yourself?

Thalia: “Oh gosh, that is so hard. I would say, enthusiastic, caring, and personable.”

Q2: What was the reason you went into the field of architecture?

Thalia: My dad accidentally brainwashed me. We had this CD that I thought of as a game, but really it was a floor planning tool called Floor Plan Plus. I drew these houses, all these floor plans, and I loved putting the little blocks inside. I’d draw a garage and put a car in, draw the bedroom and put the bed in and the bed even had a little blanket folded over on the corner. I thought that was so neat!

Q3: How old were you then?

Thalia: I was probably 10.

Q4: And is your dad an architect?

Thalia: No, he’s not. He went to school for engineering.

(Cont. from Q2)

At first, it was superficial stuff like playing with that game, watching HGTV, things like that. But then in high school, I took Computer Assisted Drafting. There’s something meditative about drawing lines and making them look a certain way, so I really liked that.

My high school had one course per year in Computer Assisted Drafting and at the end you got to design and model your own cottage. Not just a 3D model, either, but actually building a physical model.

At first my naïve, limited experience and interest in architecture was just designing houses. Then I got to university and found out it was way more. It’s looking at society and designing for people, looking at certain constraints and trying to come up with solutions for them and their environment.

Luckily, architecture ended up being more than I thought it was, in a good way, and then I loved it even more. Now I’m really glad I decided to go into architecture for all these superficial and kind of ignorant reasons.

Q5: Why Heritage Conservation?

Thalia: In school I never learned about Heritage Conservation and then I just happened to get a summer job with the City of Winnipeg in the Heritage Department. I was a Historical Buildings Officer’s assistant, and that job was wicked because it meant going around to City-owned museums, libraries, pools, and rec centres, taking pictures for documentation purposes. When people want to know what the buildings looked like at a certain time, now they have a record of it.

While at that job, I got to see what a Historical Buildings Officer does. I saw different buildings, met the owners and people working on those buildings, and heard the conversations between them. Once I finished my Master’s I saw a posting for the Historical Buildings Officer position.

I contacted the person who had that role before because it made me think of her and I wanted to catch up. When I talked to her, she was like, “You should apply for this,” so I did!

In that role, I started talking to building owners and contractors doing work for those buildings, helping them come up with ways to maintain heritage value while still upgrading their building, changing its use, or maintaining it.

Q6: What do you find most exciting about Heritage Conservation?

Thalia: Every building is different and that’s why I like it. Every situation, every context is different, and you have to consider all new materials and historic significances for each project, which is so cool. But I think what really seduced me about historical conservation is the predilection of repairing versus replacing. Say you really want to make the most out of the materials you have already: you could do that with any building, but I think for heritage buildings there’s this added layer of history of craftsmanship—skilled labourers were doing this work—so in that way it has significance. People put energy and hard work into these buildings. Tradespeople trained to create these buildings, so how can we properly maintain that or respect it when we’re undergoing interventions? I think that is interesting, and challenging. Many of these materials have also lasted a long time! And I love being part of helping them last even longer.

Q7: What was your experience as an intern at Republic?

Thalia: When you’re an intern you have to complete a certain number of hours in different categories, and I was exposed to everything and anything. I was just taking in all the practical experience. It was great! … but I’m glad it’s over.

Q8: Why did you choose Republic?

Thalia: I didn’t know that Republic had experience in historical work, but I really wanted to work somewhere where that was being done because I had this expertise that I wanted to develop further. In a funny way, Republic moving to our current building and renovating it was a reason I wanted to apply. When I worked at Fort Garry Place, I’d walk by 385 St Mary Ave and see the For Sale sign, and I was like, “Oh no, I’ve always loved that building.” I’d see the brick work on the side and think what a shame that somebody was going to buy it and probably ruin it. When I saw that Republic bought the building and rehabilitated it, it a reason to apply because I wanted to be among like-minded people.

Q9: What are you excited for in your career?

Thalia: To work on more projects and learn more about specific materials and processes.

Q10: Word to the wise? Any peer advice?

Thalia: Don’t care about what other people think. Follow what is most fulfilling to you and resonates with you the most. Treat everybody with kindness and don’t stop asking questions. I think following these seemingly cliché ideals have made me a more comfortable, confident person, and I think that’s what helped me progress through my career.