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Making Dreams Come True | Courtenay Dill Glander
Courtenay Dill Glander
Founder and Principal Architect
“I hope to be an inspiration to other women architects – you can incorporate your own company, you can design and build your own home, and you can empower others to dream big and bring those dreams to fruition.” Beautiful words to stand by, as stated by Courtenay Dill Glander, Founder, CDG ARCHITECTURE. Courtenay hopes her story and success set an example for other young women who dream of taking on the architecture, technology, and building industry to be a powerful force of change and inspiration.
With over 20 years at the intersection of architecture, design, technology, and sustainability, Courtenay has a unique and diverse skill set that has allowed her to work on the cutting edge of 21st-century architecture. Having sharpened her skills at four architecture firms and three building technology companies, before starting her own firm, Courtenay has deep knowledge and experience in seeing projects from conception to fruition. She brings the same passion, drive, and intuitive, creative spirit to every project.
Amongst her diverse portfolio of work spanning residential, hospitality, commercial, green and net-zero buildings, and building technology, some of her favorite projects have been the Golden Gate Bridge Visitor center, and the Net Zero LinkedIn headquarters buildings.
Courtenay had to carve out a place early on as a female architect in a historically male-dominated world. In her first architecture roles, she was the only woman working with 100% male teams. However, seeking out strong women as mentors early on, she found a woman-owned and led architectural office and worked alongside owner and architect Jill Benton Tardy. Jill was a tremendous inspiration and great role model, inspiring Courtenay to lead her own projects, and eventually start her own practice.
Courtenay also credits Ann Hand, former CEO of Project Frog and now serving as Chairman/President/CEO, Super League Gaming Inc,, as her greatest business and executive teacher. Ann gave Courtenay the incredible skill set of learning how to lead and be successful in a building tech startup as it went through several rounds of venture capital funding. Courtenay learned from Ann how to be an inspirational and powerhouse female leader. Calm, confident and determined is a mantra that Courtenay learned from Ann and uses every day.
Today, as the founder and principal of her own architectural practice, Courtenay seeks to model success, transparency, innovation, and inclusion. Currently, she is working alongside other women lead designers to create symbiotic and powerful female-led design teams. As a powerful and impactful businesswoman and architect, Courtenay looks forward to guiding other women architects and businesswomen into their own practices as well.
Being an Architect
With a deep love of people, places, and spaces paired with an intuitive, supportive, vibrant nature, Courtenay approaches architecture with responsiveness and dynamism. Courtenay understands how to create unique spaces and has a special talent for creative design solutions. Striving for beauty, balance, and integrity in all projects, big or small, she is your guide to living and working in style.
“I’ve been an architect my entire life. It started with sketching horse stables as a girl and selling childhood friends’ parents on home improvement. After receiving my architectural degree, I went on to design world-class resorts and cutting-edge prefabricated green buildings, and then spent time selling energy and building software, before founding my own boutique architecture firm.
I design intuitively and am deeply passionate about improving energy, flow and function through architecture to thrive in the places we live and work.
The spaces we inhabit have never been more important. With a resurgence of “staying in,” the home is truly everyone’s sanctuary. Spaces speak to me, and I feel my calling is to bring people together in spaces to create the best environment possible.
I love guiding clients to realize their own goals and dreams. As a thoughtful problem solver and design coach, I will help create the optimal environment so you can live your best life.”
Courtenay works arm-in-arm alongside her women clients – helping them see their dreams come true architecturally. It is incredibly powerful and rewarding to help extract, envision, and translate her clients’ dreams into fruition. Akin to being a midwife, she helps guide and fosters new buildings, ideas, and dreams into reality.
She has been inspiring women by modeling that they can be not only successful business owners, architects, and leaders, but that they can do so while showing up to every opportunity with integrity, intuition, drive, and deep collaboration and respect. “As an architect, you must empower the entire team, from the clients to the workers on the ground. It takes a truly united team to see a successful project to completion, one that relies upon trust, integrity, communication, and a healthy dose of shear will power,” Courtenay explains.
One of the greatest skills Courtenay wants to pass down to the leaders of tomorrow is to face challenges head-on. She advises everyone to ask the tough questions early and meet the difficult conversations with directness. “Often women are described as being submissive and not wanting to deal with difficult situations. One of my earliest lessons from CEO Ann Hand was to not to shy away from challenges. Working through each and every pain point is what makes you stronger.”
Hence, she wears each and every difficult conversation, challenge and failure as a badge of honor – it has made Courtenay who she is today. “My greatest teaching for other young women leaders is to walk straight into the fire and not let fear overcome you. It is all part of the process and the path.”
Courtenay found success when she brought her whole self to the table. “When you let go of trying to be anything but your authentic self, is when you step into your full power. I found that I could let go of the labels and ideas of what I should be and empowered the rich and dynamic real me,” she explains. “As an architect but also as an executive, leader, visionary, and collaborator, I found that by dropping the idea of what I had to be based on my schooling and past experiences, I could take on so many more challenges and roles.”
Courtenay has worked with many Fortune 500 companies, successfully leading cross-functional teams representing corporate real estate, technology, energy management, and others, toward a common goal. “I found success as soon as I let go of what I thought I should be and embraced all of me and brought my full self to the table. My advice is to be you – all of you – for when you bring all of yourself to the table you are in your full power.”
Courtenay states another key life lesson, letting go of being liked and people-pleasing. Being a good leader is about being authentic and truthful. If a leader is trying to please and avoid confrontation – they will never fully embrace their full power and success. “Learn to trust your gut and speak truthfully – knowing that you cannot please all people,” she adds. “Being a leader is not about making people happy – it is about having integrity, speaking your truth and managing difficult challenges with a calm, confident and determined state of being.”
Building A Brand
One of the biggest achievements for Courtenay is having completed several net-zero facilities, which means they generate as much power as they use, thus having a near zero impact on the environment. Courtenay believes strongly that every new structure constructed today should strive to have as little impact on the environment as possible. Courtenay’s goal for her own home is to have it operate at net zero and be a model for net zero residential architecture.
“Currently I am constructing my own forever home and I look forward seeing that to fruition and living in the fruits of my labor. As an architect, designing and getting to live in your own home is a huge goal and challenge,” says Courtenay. “It has been very enlightening putting myself into the position of the client. Experiencing the huge time commitment, emotional, and financial stress has been an incredible lesson. I have learned so much during the process about how to best support my clients on the journey.
Being a steadfast leader, Courtenay always strives to learn more and continue to hone her skills as an architect and designer. The building industry is continuously evolving, so Courtenay makes it a point to keep up with all the new materials, methodologies, and technologies. “Buildings can mark a time and an era, and working on designing, building, and maintaining beautiful and sustainable structures that last multi-generations is a goal I will undoubtedly work my entire life to achieve.”
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