Our Holly Ragan is featured in a new Q +A story from VoyageDallas. In the piece, Holly talks about her background, how she developed a passion for design, who inspired her along the way and much more. The full article is available online with key excerpts below.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Holly. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Looking back, my childhood shaped my path and passions in impactful ways. I grew up in the Texas countryside with a close-knit family. Anyone who watched me sketch, color and draw as a child might have guessed I’d grow up to work in the design profession. I sketched all the time, and as a child, I’d often sketch churches.
My family truly lived in the middle of nowhere in the early years of my life. Literally, the nearest grocery store was seven miles away and I spent most days with my sister and the boys from the other end of the street. I think some of those fundamental day-in and day-out experiences – standing up and holding my own with the boys; learning to navigate conflict and becoming best friends with my sister – echoes through how I’ve lived my life and molded my career.
For example, when I graduated high school, I went to UT Austin. After that experience, I really wanted to get out of Texas and explore the world. I took a job with a developer in Miami that had me traveling to different third world countries every week Monday-to-Friday. When I would travel on those business trips, I was often the only woman working and living alongside middle-aged men born and raised in UK cities. I was a country mouse working amidst experienced global citizens. I was way out of my comfort zone, but I had confidence in myself. I stood up for myself, navigated challenges and found my way. Even when I was home in Miami on the weekends, I didn’t have many pennies to my name. Everything about my life was a new experience, and I enjoyed the tests that life provided.
I worked in that capacity for several years. And then, one day, I realized I wanted to be home. I left Miami and came home to Houston to work with FKP Architects (now FKP/CannonDesign) – one of the leading architecture and design firms in Texas (now the world). I met people like Diane Osan – an international leader in pediatric design – who inspired me with her passion for how design could influence children’s health and society. I had exciting opportunities to lead architectural design for UT Southwestern Medical Center. I was hooked. I worked for the FKP team for years until my lovely husband brought me to Dallas. When we moved, I ended up working for UT Southwestern to lead the planning team for its medical, research, academic and office facilities. I held that job for nearly nine years before I made the decision to rejoin FKP as a principal in its Dallas office almost four years ago.
It’s been an enjoyable journey. I’m a country mouse who pushed herself to see the world before returning home to work in a job and field that allow me to pursue my passions, travel and leverage design to make a difference for the Dallas community.
Where do you see your industry going over the next 5-10 years? Any big shifts, changes, trends, etc?
Advances in technology and shifts in culture are changing the ways we work and solve problems, and this impacts every industry and every market. Times of change are ripe moments for design intervention. We can help higher education, healthcare and commercial businesses respond to their changing realities. For example, education has shifted from sitting in a classroom memorizing facts to much more activity-based curriculum. This requires the physical design of our learning spaces to evolve. As technology and automation further bolster our knowledge economy, workplaces will need to accommodate less heads down work and much more collaborative team-based efforts. Again, the physical design of workplaces will need to change. So, it’s an exciting moment for the design industry. We can help our clients navigate change and reposition their real estate and business models for success.