Gretchen Lambert

January 25, 2010 

Her job: Vice president, Studio 2LR Architecture + Interiors

Age: 38

Family: Single

Education: Bachelor's degree in architecture from Virginia Tech

Community/professional involvement: President, Congaree Vista Guild board; member, American Institute of Architects Greater-Columbia Section, Viva la Vista committee, Recycling Grant committee and U.S. Green Building Midlands Branch

Her story: Lambert moved to Columbia in 1996 and owned the Shandon School of Irish Dance for four years while working as an architect. In 2005, she started Studio 2LR Architecture + Interiors where she specializes in the design of restaurants, retail, and interior upfits of commercial and medical projects. Her firm's clients include Starbucks, Doctor's Care and TBonz Restaurant Group.

With the Congaree Vista Guild, Lambert helped secure two state grants for $40,000 to start a recycling program in the district. The program provided bins to businesses and residences, and built a recycling station. She was recognized by the state last year for her efforts.

What saying does she live by? "I don't have a catch phrase. I work hard, try to do the right thing, usually that works out all right."

Her life changed when ... She and her partners started their own architectural firm. "We had planned and researched and done all the preparation we could, but taking that jump into the abyss was both frightening and exhilarating."

How did she recover after failing at something? "In middle school, I decided to try out for concert choir with a large group of my friends. After auditions, I was devastated to find out that my friends had made it and I hadn't. I felt pretty down, but I realized something important - I can't sing, and that is OK.

"I had other talents on which to focus, and moved on to become a member of the school's concert band. I realized it is important to know both your strengths and your weaknesses."

She ran a dance school. How did she balance her profession and her passion? "Being a dancer and being a dance school owner are two very different things. As the owner of the Shandon School of Irish Dance, my time was spent paying bills, processing tuition, lesson planning, etc. ... I miss my students, but know that I made the correct decision (in starting an architecture firm). I still love dancing."

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