Alice Arterberry, co-founder of Arterberry Cooke Architecture, curates unique designs and flexibility.
By Molly Jo Tilton
Growing up, Alice Arterberry always knew she wanted to create something one day. In college, she thought this meant simply becoming an architect and designing buildings. But Arterberry has since successfully co-created an interstate architecture firm focused on holistic design.
After graduating from Woodbury University with her architecture degree, Arterberry worked in various firms focused on public sector projects, including schools and libraries, an industry notorious for long weeks and late nights. However, after having her second child, she decided that it was time for a change. She and her partner, Barrett Cooke, co-founded Arterberry Cooke Architecture, a firm originally based in California focusing on design in the private sector.
The 10 years of public sector experience prepared Arterberry to start her own company, but she still wishes she would have recognized her strength early on.
“[It’s] the confidence [to say], ‘Okay, you know this is hard. Of course it’s always hard, but [Barrett] and I, we know what we’re doing.’”
The company has now expanded with dual headquarters in both Los Angeles and Austin. While both cities offer incredibly different design opportunities, the holistic approach doesn’t change.
“We’re not just exterior architects, in the sense that we [also]focus on interiors,” says Arterberry. “So we have a whole other service level when it comes to the design portion of it, which is this interior design piece.”
Especially in Austin, the process is even more involved.
“We are actually involved in the construction project management, all the way through certificate of occupancy,” she says. “We’re picking out paint colors and grout colors and all the minutiae of what goes into making a space come together. We’re involved in all of those pieces.”
Arterberry’s diverse background, both in experience and places lived, has influenced her designs to include more spaces meant to foster community.
“It’s my really strong belief that those exterior spaces, they might be kind of small, but they’re so critical in terms of how a person sociologically connects to their environment. In terms of architecture, we can either facilitate that or not.”
The journey hasn’t always been easy. Architecture is a male-dominated field; Arterberry remembers being only one of three women in her college program. She admits that this created many challenges, from balancing motherhood to earning the respect of her peers.
“But at this point in time, we have established a reputation with the people we work with and our builders,” she says. “They respect the hell out of us. There is no ‘thing’ about a woman or a man.”
This has influenced her business model, creating a more flexible working environment for those who need it.
“My goal is to offer an incredible working environment where if you’re gonna hustle, I don’t care if you hustle five days a week or seven days a week.”
Arterberry reminds people not to limit themselves and to pursue their dreams.
“We’ve built this thing, and we’re just moms,” she says. “I think that’s my message to people. If you have passion about what you want to do, then you should go and do it. Acknowledge your value and fight for what you want.”