Meet Your QCP Team – Rosa Cheney, Architect & Specifier

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We’re delighted to introduce you to Rosa Cheney, principal of Rosa D Cheney, AIA, PLLC. Rosa provides professional technical, specifications, and sustainability consulting services out of Arlington, VA. We recently talked to Rosa about how she became an architect and how she came to be involved with AWI-QCP.


You can also listen to this blog post as a podcast hosted by QCP’s Executive Director, Randy Estabrook. Listen now.


AWI-QCP: Hi, Rosa! It’s good to talk to you. Can we start by finding out a little bit more about why you wanted to be an architect?

Rosa Cheney: I was always interested in designing, and I think architecture is an art. You’re creating something, but it’s also technical in nature. It’s got to work. It’s a building, not just a painting or sculpture. It’s art with purpose. That’s why I wanted to become an architect originally. 


AWI-QCP: And now you’re a spec writer, what led you to that?

RC: I worked at an architect firm for many years before deciding to become a specification writer, because that’s a unique specialty in architecture, it’s the more technical side of being a project architect. I was given some experience right away in terms of being on a construction site and seeing the work that I had drawn and detailed as a real project. I loved that kind of experiment experience. The fact that there’s so much information within specifications that affect the final outcome of the project was an eye-opening experience. 

I began to see more and more of the importance of specs on a project to allowing the actual design to not just be constructed, but to actually live. If you just draw what you want, you might not quite get your point across to the contractor, or it might not be exactly what is built. It’s all about what’s in the specs. You can reinforce the design, and I found that to be important in the work that I was doing with construction administration as an architect. I started to lean more towards spec writing, and now I have my own practice where we basically consult, mostly to other firms, about writing specs so they can achieve the designs and vision they want.


How Spec Writers work with AWI-QCP

AWI-QCP: When did you first hear about the Quality Certification Program?

RC: I got to know about QCP when I was working at an architectural firm. The idea of having a third party quality process is so important to construction, now more than ever because staff throughout the construction industry are less and less experienced but they have more responsibilities. I think that’s just the nature of our industry, you’re being thrown into the mix right away. The QCP process allows for some of that quality assurance to be taken off their hands and ensures projects are being built the way they’re supposed to be. You can entrust that to QCP, and it’s the huge value QCP brings to woodworking projects. Being able to limit the people who are working on the project or the woodworkers that you’re going to allow on your project is a way of ensuring quality, especially if you have a really important project where the aesthetics are key. Working with a QCP licensee gives you a little bit of assurance that they’ve already had to go through a process to show that they know the Architectural Woodwork Standards.


AWI-QCP: We definitely agree! What do you think is the biggest challenge facing QCP right now?

RC: I think the challenge for QCP is the industry’s experience gap. Younger architects see a picture and they say, well, I want that, how do I get that? And if they’re able to buy a product that’s off the shelf, such as casework, for example, that’s pre-manufactured, and it gives them the look that they want, they can get it, but they don’t realize that the sky’s the limit. They could definitely design something bespoke however they want, to get the exact look that they want, they don’t have to pick something out of a catalog. 

What the woodworking industry and QCP provide is custom work. Something that’s built for a specific project and it’s built to really high quality, not something that’s off the shelf. But the industry seems to be trending that way right now.


AWI-QCP: So Rosa, you’re chair elect of the QCC board of directors, which means that in January 2021, you’ll become chair. That’s pretty exciting, isn’t it?

RC: Yes! I am excited. I think the fact that I can bring an architect’s viewpoint and my experience on the design side and on the more technical side I think will be helpful to AWI-QCP. I want to help the industry understand what’s going through the minds of architects or designers. I look forward to leading the charge a little bit! 


AWI-QCP: Can you give us a preview of some of the things you’ll be focusing on next year?

RC: I would say that diversity certainly is important to me and always has been. In today’s political climate, diversity is a huge issue, and I want to make sure that AWI-QCP is as inclusive as possible. Another thing is a focus on the standards themselves. With the AWI issuing new standards, a key charge is making sure that QCP is in a position to react and uphold those standards and can work to those standards as the AWI issues them. 


I’m looking forward to the role that I can play at AWI in continuing to move the industry and QCP forward.


More questions? Contact us and let’s chat.

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