by AIA New York
Kathryn Thiele, AIA, CSI, CDT, Founder and CEO of Buildstock, is a former co-chair of the AIANY Emerging New York Architect Committee, where she helped to launch the AIANY TORCH Mentorship Program, a scholarship program, and hosts many events. Thiele is a licensed architect with over 10 years of experience in ground-up construction for high-rise buildings. Launched in January 2022, her company Buildstock recently closed its pre seed funding round and is actively hiring and working towards a 2023 Q1 live release with customers.
Prior to founding Buildstock, Thiele began her career at Codeworx, a dedicated team of code and zoning consultants with industry expertise to keep architectural projects both compliant and on schedule for high-rise leading developers. She then joined the Manhattan Building Company, a fast-track design-build developer. Over the next decade, Thiele went on to become a lead architect and project manager on site, managing over a billion dollars worth of high-rise development projects, including leading development for eight towers and over eight million square feet of mixed-use high rises.
Thiele is active in her community at local and national levels. In addition to her role at AIA New York, she’s a Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation (BWAF) Emerging Leader and also teaches at Cornell University.
Q: What is influencing your work the most right now?
My passion for driving positive change in the construction industry is the main force behind our company, Buildstock. Listening to the needs and challenges of our customers, both builders and suppliers, informs the direction and development of our two-sided construction materials marketplace. Our goal is to bring efficiency to the procurement process and create value for all parties involved. By providing real-time material volume, pricing, and lead times, we aim to save builders time and money, while driving growth and timely payments for suppliers. Working towards creating a better experience for our customers drives us to constantly innovate and improve our product, ultimately making a meaningful impact in the industry.
Q: What has been particularly challenging in your recent work?
The recent challenges in my work have been centered around the shift from an architect’s traditional skill set working for a high-rise developer, to a more encompassing role that requires problem-solving, leadership, and accountability, as a founder/CEO. This pivot has required me to adjust my approach to work and challenge the status quo in an industry that is often resistant to change. It’s been a challenging but rewarding experience as I strive to bring fresh perspectives and innovative solutions to the table.
Q: How do you feel about the state of the industry right now?
The design and construction industry are experiencing a period of significant change and disruption.
The changes bring about exciting opportunities to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and create sustainable solutions in procurement and supply chain. As a company in the industry, Buildstock, we are eager to seize these opportunities. Our marketplace streamlines direct purchasing in high-rise, bulk buying environments, saving builders time and money, and helping suppliers get paid earlier, which ultimately benefits everyone. The more projects we can build on-time and on-budget, the more people we can help, and the more impact we can have in this dynamic and ever-evolving industry!
Q: What are your thoughts on architectural education today?
My thoughts on architectural education are centered around the relevance of the curriculum to professional practice. While architectural education today strives to be comprehensive, incorporating both theoretical and practical aspects, I believe it falls short in preparing students for the realities of professional practice. This includes crucial aspects such as managing a project from start to finish, understanding accessibility and code requirements, and appreciating the significance of these considerations. Furthermore, there is a concern about cost and lack of diversity. In my opinion, architectural education needs to place more emphasis on these important aspects to better equip students for success.
Q: What are your greatest sources of inspiration?
My inspiration flows from people. Every time I see someone battling hunger, loss, or a lack of shelter, my heart aches. I am deeply moved by the courage of pregnant women who face such uncertainty while sleeping on the streets, not knowing what the future holds. The tireless dedication of teachers and bus drivers, who spend hours commuting every day to support our community yet struggle to make ends meet. I’m inspired to help the city & private developers, build more affordable homes, to add equitable jobs, to create safe spaces for all.