Please tell us about yourself

I believe in a simple, focused and coordinated approach in achieving project goals and an unwavering commitment to client satisfaction. My passion is in creating environments that can foster learning, innovation and discovery in science and technology that enriches life and improves our planet.

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(LD): How did you get into such an offbeat, unconventional and interesting field?

Deepa Balgi (DB): My dad is a civil engineer. In his spare time, he used to design homes for his friends and eventually designed our home where we grew up in Chennai, India. And coming to think of it, when I was a little girl I made accessories for my one doll, like furniture, rooms, etc. It was due to my dad’s encouragement that I went into school for architecture in India at National Institute of Technology, Trichy. My love for travel lead me to the U.S. to do my Masters in Architecture at State University of New York College at Buffalo (M.Arch). When I moved to California in 2002, I joined a small firm that specialized in laboratory design and the rest is history.

LD: What is a typical day like for you?

DB: One of the reasons I enjoy being in this field, apart from the creative side, is that there is no typical day. It varies from designing, detailing, coordination with consultants, presentations, client meetings, job site visits and travel.

LD: What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned in your career?

DB: What I learned in school is only a drop in the bucket from what you learn during the course of your career. You are constantly learning something new every day—if not new technology, it is about new building typology or new products and process.

LD: What do you consider the highlight of your career?

DB: Pride in finding out that a breakthrough research or a medical treatment came out of a lab that you designed. It gives you a sense of accomplishment that you played a part, however small it may be, in an important contribution to humanity.

LD: If you had to do something else for a living, what would it be?

DB: Probably something creative such as video game design or 3-D animation.

LD: Can you describe a funny or exciting moment in your career?

DB: Funny moment—when I was trying to find the turning radius of a cow for a veterinary school project I was designing! Turns out that cows can turn on the spot, so as long as it’s as long as she is, she’ll be able to turn. I also learned that they can also fold almost completely in half, so a bit smaller wouldn’t be a problem either.

LD: What advice do you have for people just starting their career, or for students who are thinking of majoring in architecture/engineering/etc.?

DB: Make the best out of the opportunities presented to you, and be patient if something does not work the way you imagined it would.

LD: What do you like to do in your spare time? 

DB: Traveling, reading and volunteering for athletic events at my son’s school.