Faces of Gresham Smith: Asia Allen

Asia Allen, AIA, NOMA

Asia Allen, AIA, NOMA

Name: Asia Allen, AIA, NOMA

Current Title: Architect

Office Location: Nashville, TN

Years at Gresham Smith: 6


Meet Asia Allen, an architect in our Nashville Healthcare studio, and our latest Faces of Gresham Smith feature. Asia is passionate about all things design and enjoys volunteering her time to make a difference in the community she grew up in. Keep reading to learn how Asia got her start in architecture and what she’s learned along the way.


Where did you grow up?

I grew up in South Nashville—Antioch, to be specific.


Where did you go to college?

I earned my Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

What was your first job?

My first job was a camp counselor at a YMCA summer camp. It was a fun way to earn money when I was home from college during the summer months, and I enjoyed spending time with the kids.


What is your favorite project you’ve worked on while at Gresham Smith and why?

One of my favorite projects I’ve worked on while at Gresham Smith is the Wellstar Cherokee Health Park project. As one of my first major projects as a Project Architect, I gained so much knowledge working on this project. I was involved from the very beginning stages of the to the final completion, gaining invaluable experience along the way and finding a launch pad to grow my career.

main lobby with reception desk and staircase

What’s your favorite Gresham Smith memory?

A couple years ago, a few people in our office dressed up as our studio leader, Brent Hughes, principal at Gresham Smith. I didn’t dress up myself, but I got a good laugh at everyone who did! It was easily one of the most entertaining days in the office.

What made you choose your profession?

I’ve always enjoyed art, mainly drawing and painting, dating back to when I was a child. In high school I took an AP art class, which required a themed portfolio at the end of the year. I quickly realized that most of my art pieces up to that point related to the built environment. After doing some research, I chose architecture as the theme for my portfolio. From there, I became curious about the profession and began doing my own research. I applied and got accepted into the University of Tennessee’s College of Architecture + Design, and the rest is history!


What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?

“Mind your business. Resist the urge to be consumed with everything and everyone else. Become a master of you.” I read this is a planner I recently purchased, and it has stuck with me ever since.


What achievement are you most proud of and why?

I am most proud of becoming a licensed architect. Of the roughly 116,240 registered architects in the United States, only 2% are black. In fact, only 502 architects (or 0.4%) are black women. Both statistics are staggering, but I take pride in being one of those 502. There is still more work to be done towards increasing diversity and equity in the architecture field, and I try to do my part by volunteering my time with National Organization of Minority Architects and the Civic Design Center.

What’s on your bucket list?

I’d really like to take some floral design classes. I signed up for a class before COVID-19 shut everything down, but I’ve been experimenting at home (as you can see below). I’ve found that Trader Joe’s has the best floral selection at a decent price. Anything to brighten up my house as I continue to work from home!


What book are you currently reading?

I really enjoy a good self-help book. I’m currently re-reading a favorite of mine, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.


What are three objects on your desk?

An amethyst stone, fresh flowers, and a sea of sticky notes.