Khushboo Shah’s interest in architecture comes from her father, who is in the construction materials business.
He saw the dedication and creativity an architect brings to any project and pushed her to pursue it as a career. When her family moved from India to the U.S., she started at College of DuPage based upon her uncle’s advice.
“It was one of the best recommendations I could have taken. Attending COD helped me to adjust to this country since I was able to take courses and live at home,” she said. “Initially, the Architecture program asked for a lot of patience, but the faculty brought the students some fun and challenging projects. Their one-on-one attention with each student and excitement for every project are really what motivated me to continue.”
In addition to living at home and being a full-time student, Shah worked part-time while earning her Pre-Architecture associate’s degree. She was able to use her savings when she was accepted into the prestigious Versailles program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She spent her junior year in France and then returned to UIUC, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies and a master’s degree in Architecture.
After graduating, she traveled to China for five weeks to participate in the Solar Decathlon China competition, which was started by the U.S. and Chinese governments to promote sustainable economic and social development while encouraging the use of renewable energy sources. The next year, she began working at Bailey Edward, which was established in 1991 as a woman-owned firm.
“After starting there, I put my education to work on projects for the General Services Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Northwestern University, Argonne National Laboratory, South Dakota State University and the department of Veterans Affairs,” she said.
Shah also returned to her alma mater as a professional architect, working on plans for the renovation of COD’s Naperville Center. As a student, she took a French language course at the Center as well as several placement tests. This experience served her well while working on renovations to the 20,460 square-foot facility.
“Having been to the center before, I was able to express to the design team the unfriendly, cold feeling of the building from the perspective of a student,” she said. “The reconfigured design of the interior, along with the vibrant colors used in the facility, really brightens up the experience inside and out.
“Bailey Edward gave me the opportunity to work on the project during every phase. The majority of my time was spent developing the project through the design development and construction documentation phase and producing the design in AutoCAD. I related to the project not only as an alumnus of COD, but also because the fast pace and small team – which focused on creating a beautiful and functional design – was similar to the studio culture in COD’s Architecture program.”
In 2016, Shah moved to BDE Architecture, a firm based in California that works on mixed-use residential projects. She is working in the company’s Chicago office and has been fortunate to be part of several large projects. Currently she is completing her first Construction Administration (CA) experience.
“CA is a completely different world of experiences that has made me realize the importance of taking on a leadership role, managing stress and effectively communicating for best productivity,” she said. “With CA, the major learning curve is finding a solution for many issues small to big, coordinating with other trades and keeping up with daily questions from the job site. I have enjoyed the challenging days even when I would have little to no understanding of the problem and its potential solution.
“The confidence I have gained is immense, especially understanding each trade and asking questions. I enjoy CA so much so that I’d love to continue doing CA for the rest of my career in architecture.”
Shah considers College of DuPage one of the best cost-saving schools in Illinois with educational standards that parallel any prestigious university.
“The Architecture program is constantly updated to match what students might need to meet the real-world challenges,” she said. “The school provides an all-around curriculum that includes, but is not limited to, architecture history courses, computer drawing and presentation program courses, introductory structural courses, and more that prepare students to design a project. For example, I was first introduced to AutoCAD in one of my courses at COD and I use it daily for my work at Bailey Edward.
“My education at COD made the transition to the real world smoother.”