TBG | get to know Samantha Whitney, TBG San Antonio’s newest principal
A recent hire, TBG San Antonio’s newest Principal Samantha Whitney, AIA, brings over 20 years of experience in urban design – helping to diversify the firm’s skill set and expertise. TBG Partners is thrilled to welcome Samantha and witness her knowledge contribute to the San Antonio office’s growth and impact.
Q: What led you to architecture?
A: As a kid, I always liked to be creative and make things. As I got a bit older, I became obsessed with This Old House which I guess developed into a big enough curiosity to pursue architecture in college – which was nothing like This Old House!
Q: What encouraged you to receive your master’s in urban design?
A: I spent time living overseas in Morocco shortly after undergrad. My time there really opened my eyes to a completely different world and cultural experience. It changed my thinking about cities and how they are shaped and reshaped over time and wanted to learn more about that.
Q: Where do you find inspiration when you need it?
A: Outside! Being in nature and having time to think is so important. I can recharge and see things in a fresh perspective when I make time for that.
Q: Why are you passionate about what you do?
A: I think the work we do in the space of urban design and planning has the ability to create change in a big way. Knowing that people’s quality of life can be enhanced by what we do drives my passion for doing it as well as I can.
Q: Which of your projects has been the most rewarding and why?
A: The update we did for the Downtown Lubbock Master Plan (that I led while at Overland with TBG by my side) has been so rewarding because we earned the trust of so many people in the community. I think the most important part of that was our commitment to knowing them and understanding what makes them special meant as much to them (if not more than) the work itself. We continue to work with the City as the lead of the Downtown Civic Green.
Q: What do you love about San Antonio?
A: That it feels like a small town. I have no idea why we call it the “Seventh Largest City in the US” since it feels so much smaller, so shapeable. The community of folks here who are in the city-building/placemaking space is a great group who all believe in what makes our city special and see how much potential it has to be even greater.
Q: How does your personal appreciation of the city of San Antonio intersect with your professional passions?
A: I think you have to love your own city and serve it well to be able to contribute to the profession in a broader sense and vice versa. Each project I immerse myself into is a labor of love and I discover something new that I didn’t know about before. Any time I have the opportunity to attend a state or national conference in urban design and placemaking, I challenge myself with three actions to take home and apply in my day-to-day practice at home in San Antonio.
Q: Where do you see us, as TBG, the profession – making impact?
A: I am so excited for the growth of TBG’s presence in San Antonio and love that I am a part of this moment. I see a growing need for the fresh perspective we bring at the intersection of landscape architecture, urban design, and planning and see us continuing to make an impact in San Antonio and across Texas as cities here will continue to wrestle with striking a balance of growth and quality of life.
Q: Tell us how you approach design. Which part of the design process excites you most?
A: The research, engagement, and visioning parts of the process excite me the most – this often starts before we even have the job. I love digging into a place to see what makes it tick – understanding what the community needs and aligning that with other drivers.
Q: How do you spend your free time? What are your passions outside of work?
A: What free time? Ha, just kidding. Spending time with my kids who crack me up. I also really love to travel and have a newfound appreciation for that since the pandemic. I make sure that I take in a new place with the same curiosity I would give to a far-flung location since there is always an opportunity to learn and experience something different.
Q: What’s something critical you wish you were taught in school?
A: I think what is often overlooked (especially in the urban design/planning world) is how to curate information so that it is clear and understandable. We are expected to take in an exorbitant amount of inputs and factors – the challenge is in distilling it into a compelling story. It’s hard to teach, I guess!