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A Celebration of DPS Women in Construction: Anne Weber

Mar. 18, 2022
 
Anne Weber headshot

Anne Weber
Director of Planning and Design

Time in DPS: 6 months
Hometown: I grew up in the French Alps, enjoying sports and outdoor activities offered in the lakes and mountain region.

What advice do you have for girls and women interested in construction or other non-traditional careers for females?

Follow your passion. Do not listen to anyone suggesting that, as a girl, a job or career is not appropriate. Growing up, going to school, and then working as an architect, I never thought I was different because I was a woman. I have been in situations where I was the only woman in a construction job trailer and did not notice. Be knowledgeable, confident, and assertive; you will be respected for your qualifications.

Educational Background:

In my first year of college studying biology and geology, I discovered a calling for architecture. I joined the Architecture School of Lyon in France for a six-year Master’s Degree in Architecture. France offered a comprehensive program covering design and construction processes as well as mastering sciences related to the building and operation of healthy and safe environments. I finished my education in the U.S. with another Master’s Degree in Urban Design from CU Denver. This second field of study complemented architecture well as it focused on the design of spaces between buildings as well as creating healthy communities.

What career path did you take to arrive in your current role?

I did several internships in France while working on my degree. The internships were crucial – in school you learn about architecture but not necessarily how to be an architect.

Before moving to the U.S. I had a great opportunity to work in Marrakesh, Morocco, at the reconstruction of “La Mamounia,” a historic hotel. This experience combined drafting by hand construction drawings which were instantly used across the street on the construction site. This project brought together designers, engineers, managers, contractors, and suppliers reconstructing one of the world’s most famous hotels in North Africa.

Since moving to Denver in 1987, I’ve had the great opportunity to work for three architectural firms which focused on the design of educational facilities from early childhood through universities. My passion is in educational planning specific to K-12 schools and specifically creating thriving and sustainable environments to engage students in their learning and spark their creativity. The most recent step in my career was to accept the position of Director of Planning and Design for DPS. This new role is fulfilling as I bring 30 years of expertise in designing schools to the large scale of our district. This new role is fulfilling as I lead the evaluation for renovation of 190 schools in the district and the planning of future schools.

Describe your job:

My work is varied as I direct a team of planners who execute most of our work. It starts with assessing schools, renovation work, and determining the need for expansion or new schools. The team is instrumental in defining the scope for bond-funded projects as well as managing the expectations of school staff.

As the director, I need to have a good understanding of each project to report back to the district’s executive team on success and challenges faced on projects. I am in charge of defining new strategies to continuously improve our processes to deliver the best physical environment providing the best value for each dollar available for construction.

How does your work positively impact the lives of DPS students?

The work done by the Department of Planning and Design is to facilitate the design of schools where the physical environment truly impacts learning. It starts with a building where students and staff are excited to come to everyday, a place where students feel safe though ready to engage in their learning, a sustainable and exciting environment which sparks curiosity in all children!

What do you enjoy most about working in DPS?

I find it very important to continue nurturing a culture of collaboration. As a relatively new addition to the district, my first job was to understand the roles of each department as they relate to the design, construction and operation of our buildings. My networking in DPS extended to the departments that define the educational vision as well as feeding and keeping safe all students and staff. Bringing people together from each department to create and implement a new vision for thriving school environments is the most exciting part of my job right now.

Is there a project you are especially proud of that you’ve led or have been involved with in DPS?

It is hard to single out one project, as it is important for every project to be impactful to the users it serves. The one project which is not completed but I am very proud to be involved with is the replacement of Montbello High School. This project is not just impressive for its size and complexity but for the difference it will make in the whole Montbello neighborhood. The culture of this neighborhood is very strong as many generations often choose to stay in the neighborhood. The high school has been an anchor to the community, and was lost for a decade. The new design is integrating parts of the past – respecting the legacy – while creating a comprehensive program in a state-of-the-art facility.

What do you do for fun or relaxation when you’re not at work?

I am not sure that I can list all my passions outside of work! I have two grown children which allows me to now focus on myself. I love the outdoors; I ski, ride my bike, hike, camp, and garden. I am a pastel painting artist and a tango dancer. I do most of these activities with friends as I believe that it is the people you know who enrich your life.