Shimkus Hall FAIA, Esq. Class of 1991
As a student at Tulsa’s Holland Hall, Cara Hall used to dream about becoming an architect, but she had a back-up plan, she could always be a lawyer. Now she is both. As one of only two Tulsa-based members of the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects, she has distinguished herself as a designer and has provided immeasurable service to the profession as an attorney. Cara sees the two professions as closely related, “They are both really about problem solving,” she says.
After completing a bachelor’s degree in architecture in Norman, Cara began practicing and tackling the problem of solving building programs, not just for individual buildings, but for national and international corporations whose buildings were under construction all over the world based on prototypical designs. She was faced with dual challenges of dealing with large, complex clients with specific needs and distant building sites with unique characteristics, local concerns and land use regulations. Her graduate degrees from the Urban Design Studio and the University of Tulsa, College of Law helped her develop the skills required to meet these challenges, "There are a lot of contracts and legal issues in architecture; the law background helps with that. The training as an urban designer helps more in dealing with planners and zoning boards.” Her clients used to refer to their lawyers when making important architectural decisions, now they lean on her. In fact, she has become so expert in dealing with these issues that now the profession relies on her advice as well. As a member of the AIA Documents Committee, which she’ll chair next year, Cara now writes the industry standard contracts and forms used in the architecture field by all practicing architects.
Her service commitments, however, do not interfere with Cara’s first love of design and practice. As Principal of GH2 Architects in practice with her husband, Michael Hall, and one other talented partner, she oversees the firm’s hospitality studio which designs hotels, conference centers and resorts. With her broad expertise and experience, she also gets involved in the firm’s other specialties, including historic preservation and design of equine facilities. Cara has come a long way from her days dreaming as a school girl, “… it has kind of come full circle, and some of my professors are now my clients."