Ashley Bell Davis, RA, AIA

I am registered architect and entrepreneur who resides and practices in South Louisiana with my professional engineer husband, our 2.5-year-old son and elderly rescue dog. I am a Cajun descendant who was raised in New Iberia by my parents with my fraternal twin sister and younger brother. I am a third-generation graduate from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette where I earned my Masters in Architecture in 2011 and was very active in AIAS and Student Government.

I started working for various architecture firms in Acadiana the summer after my freshman year and continued to complete my experience requirements after I graduated while overlapping the start of my exams. As I was completing my last two exams, my husband Brendon, a civil engineer, and I founded Davis Design & Consulting which offered engineering, project management and drafting services. Upon receiving my license to practice in Louisiana, we applied for the firm’s architectural license and were able to add architecture to our list of services. We now operate as a multidisciplinary design firm.

DD&C has a unique partnership between architecture and engineering within one design firm providing professional architecture, civil engineering, and project management services to local clients in South Louisiana and beyond. Brendon and I have over 20 years of combined commercial construction design experience between us, and we are passionate about providing our clients the value they expect. We have the expertise to efficiently take a project from the initial design conception all the way through construction completion, quickly, to facilitate productive operations for business owners.

Why did you choose architecture as a profession?
I decided on my career path at a young age when I was inspired by my father’s degree in architecture along with his profession as an estimator for an electrical engineering contractor. I was also encouraged to begin a career in a male dominated industry by my mother who was the only female executive that built and ran the information technology department for an international company. The combination of art and problem solving drew me in, and the feeling of accomplishment when seeing my designs built and watching my clients operate their businesses successfully in the spaces we created, has made me stick around.

Do you have a special routine/habit you may do to get creative juices flowing?
I am a morning person, so I like to concentrate all my best ideas and quality work as early as possible with more mindless tasks in the afternoon. Monday is my favorite day of the week because I feel like it is a fresh start to be productive.

What type of projects do you like to take on?
Our firm focuses on commercial projects, specializing in business, industrial, and storage occupancies. Our dream projects would be designing a brewery, a distillery, or an event venue.

What is your most satisfying professional accomplishment?
Starting, building, and running my own firm was always my dream. When I met my husband in college, that goal started to become a reality, and we were able to create a vision together and then actually make it happen. We set up our firm in a way that prioritizes our family and are fortunate enough to be able to operate from home setting our own schedules which affords us the flexibility to be full-time, working parents to our young son with minimal outside childcare.

What is the greatest personal or professional obstacle you’ve overcome?
My greatest personal accomplishment is being able to manage my learning disability of ADHD which I struggled with growing up. Through adapting and implementing systems, I can function and channel my neurodivergence being able to use it as an asset.
My greatest professional obstacle was becoming one of the small 17% of architects that are women and breaking through institutional barriers in place by fighting for accommodations while taking the AREs during my pregnancy, then as a breastfeeding mother, and becoming licensed in Louisiana when my son was only 5.5 months old.
Since then, I have also gained my reciprocity licensure in Texas.

What do you do after a hard day at work to unwind?
My personal happy place is a bubble bath with a glass of wine.
Unwinding as a family though, we enjoy my husband’s culinary skills, building Legos, and solving puzzles together.

If you could have any other job, what would it be?
I truly wouldn’t want to be on any other career path, but if I had to choose… I think event planning would be something I would like since I really enjoy planning, hosting, and celebrating parties, events and showers for my family and friends.

Do you have a business/creative role model? If so, who is it and why?
I get a lot of inspiration and support with professional development from my peers through networking online. I have been able to meet, connect with and learn from architects across the US and beyond. I am active in the EntreArchitect Community Facebook Group, which is a group of firm owners, and NEXT Architects Facebook Group, which is a group of emerging professionals.
In addition, I am part of a cohort of women-owned small architectural firms that we have called LEAP (Launching and Evolving Architectural Practice). We meet weekly to share knowledge by discussing our professional struggles, setting goals together, and inviting speakers to present to our group.

What other leadership roles do you hold in the community and/or what volunteer efforts do you support?
I really enjoy contributing to the future of the profession of Architecture. I am a member of the Emerging Professionals Committee with AIA Louisiana and I previously served on the AIA LA State Conference planning committee (2020 & 2021). I am currently Vice President/President-Elect of my local AIA South LA chapter. I am a board member of Designing Women of Acadiana, which is a local professional group for women in construction and design. I have been a guest speaker and panelist at the Young Architect Conference. I am a moderator for the Women Architect Collective Facebook Group. I also actively volunteer as a thesis advisor and guest critic at ULL School of Architecture and Design, and I have been invited to present for career day at Catholic High New Iberia.

What is your favorite way to spend your time?
With the little time I have left outside of running a business, chasing after a toddler, and volunteering, I spend it by traveling, crafting, swim training, doing yoga, beer & wine tastings, and sharing a good meal out.