Whitley Stephens

Firm: SFS Architecture

Title: Project Architect

Alma mater: Kansas State University

Hometown: Plano, TX

Why did you go into your chosen field?

I was always interested in art and drawing at a young age. Architecture piqued my interest when I found that it incorporated art, design as well as technology. It was a unique career path that few others in my graduating class chose.

What gives you motivation to progress your design career?

I chose this career path as a High School Junior and didn't quite realize that there were so few black architects when I first started my pursuits. Knowing that I am one of such a small percentage of black architects and even smaller percentage of black 

architects and even smaller percentage of black female architects keeps me motivated to stay engaged and involved in design and architecture. Young students that look like me are looking for tangible examples of black architects and that keeps me motivated to keep going. One of many passions as I have advanced in my career is Architecture Education Outreach to K-12 and college students through various organizations such as the American Institute of Architects Kansas City Chapter and Urban Technology Empowered Communities (Urban TEC).

What is your most meaningful project, and why?

I have a couple:

Excelsior Springs Community Center, in Excelsior Springs, MO has become a central hub for residents of all ages. From party rooms, aquatics center, sport courts, walking track, and a Senior Center just to name a few of the facilities attractions that have bridged many generations. The lasting impact this project has had on the Excelsior Springs Community and future generations to come is what makes this project so meaningful.

​UMB Bank at 151st and Blackbob, in Olathe, KS was one of the first projects I led efforts in all phases of design including overseeing construction. UMB has made an intentional effort to make all their bank branches unique. No two branches are alike, and they all incorporate an "art" installation. At the 151st and Blackbob branch we incorporated custom perforated metal petals that transition over the drive thru and into the interior of the branch from internationally known metalworks design firm A. Zahner, based in Kansas City. The opportunity to design outside the box on a project type that has the potential to become repetitive made this a meaningful experience.​

​Mission Family Aquatic Center in Mission, KS is a renovated pool and bathhouse for the City of Mission, KS where I participated in my first ribbon cutting/opening day ceremony.  It was the first time many family and friends got an opportunity to see one of my projects come full circle. I even saved the ribbon in hopes of putting together a project scrapbook one day.

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