Jonathan Glance (SA Class of 1993) is our Alumni Spotlight this week.
Jonathan is currently the President of Glance + Associates, Inc. He received his Master of Architecture from the University of Virginia and his Bachelor of Science in Architecture from Kent State University (Kent, OH/Florence, Italy). He is also the architect for our renovations to the Oliver Building and Means Alumni Gym.
1. What was your favorite subject while you attended Sewickley Academy and why?
Free period. SA taught many tangible things, but it also taught autonomy. I learned very early on that decisions you make have direct consequences. So when I went to college, I was able to handle all the unstructured time. A close second was anything I took in the English and history departments. And, of course, AP Physics.
2. Did you ever think that your chosen profession would involve using so many math concepts and skills?
Math and architecture are often thought to be very closely related, but in reality actually are not. The more technical components of buildings are designed by the engineers (structural, mechanical, acoustic, etc.). Architects require less technical knowledge but a lot more conceptual and critical-thinking knowledge. Architects are, at their core, problem-solvers.
3. What advice would you give to a current student who is interested in becoming an architect?
I love my job, and I'm living my childhood dream, but I always tell prospective architects that if there is something else you like to do or have other interests, do that something else. Architecture is a little like becoming an artist or actor - terrible pay, highly competitive, long hours, and most fail. In my freshman year, nearly 60% of the incoming class chose (or was forced) to drop out of the department. But if architecture is in your blood, there is nothing better than getting paid to do what you love.
4. What are your favorite buildings or structures to design?
Renovations and additions. My thesis project was on this very subject. I am fascinated by how the collage of the existing and the proposed come together to create something wholly new and surprising.
5. What was the experience like creating the plans for your alma mater for the Oliver Building and Means Alumni Gym?
My three short years at SA changed my life, and I would not be where I am without that experience. SA taught me to think critically, creatively, and thematically. I could never do what I do without those tools. Add to that, I made friends for life there. The six of us from my Class of '93 get together several times a year, and our kids now are all friends. To be able to come back and apply my skill set to such an important place in my life is an honor.
6. Who was your favorite teacher at Sewickley Academy?
Well, that is an impossible question to answer. Just about every one, really. Everyone in the English department, most in the history and math departments. But, perhaps the two towering figures in my life would be John Ball and Joyce Ferris. They could not be any different in their approach, but both were looking for the same results.
7. What was the best piece of advice you received while you were at SA?
“To be blunt, stop shoveling and start thinking,” which is what former SA teacher Peter Golding wrote on one of my mediocre term papers. Up until SA, I could float my way through school with glib remarks that I (and others) confused for insight. His advice stuck with me my whole life.
8. If there is one thing you could change about your time at SA what would it be and why?
I would study. A lot harder.