Sam Bent is a Project Designer and Emerging Professional (EP) in our Education studio and has been with Lionakis for two years. As part of our series on the EP Program at Lionakis, we sat down with Sam to discuss his current role in architectural design and as an EP. With LEED Green Associate credentials and both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Cal Poly Pomona and UCLA, Sam says he was excited to join the education focused team. He tells us that his favorite part of being a designer thus far is seeing how excited faculty, students and parents are to see their schools completely transformed. Sam says that:

“The milestone accomplishments in K-12 projects are best represented in the student, parent and faculty reactions to their new schools. The transformations bring about possibility and opportunities that many parents and teachers never had access to when they were that age.”

Sam first became inspired to be an architect through his grandfather, who was an architect and had his own firm in Southern California where Sam worked for a short time. Sam has recently passed his Final ARE exam and only has the California Supplemental Exam left to pass before he is finally a licensed architect!


A typical day for Sam usually involves working on no more than one to three major education projects at a time. He could be working on a DSA submittal for one project one day, and then programming and schematic design for another project the following day. Sam enjoys being flexible, wearing multiple hats and being able to work with mentors in management at every phase of each project. While management might be overseeing five or more projects at a time, Sam says they will sit down with each EP and challenge the EP’s to really think through each decision they make on their projects. Dennis Guerra, Associate Education Principal has been known to bring in recent job site photos and ask the team “what’s wrong in this photo”. From there they develop strategies to solve the issue together and it’s a real-time learning and solution oriented activity.

Moving from schematics to design development is one of Sam’s favorite parts of the process. Seeing your original hand drawing, then the digital concept and possibly even a 3D rendering merge more fully into something that’s “real” and shows everything coming together for the first time. While Sam is skilled in all programs needed in his position including Revit, Adobe Creative Suite, Photoshop and Enscape, his favorite part in the early onset of a project is creating hand sketches – every sketch helps him to discover something.

One of the misconceptions about architecture Sam says, is that you have to be good at math and drawing:

“What many don’t realize is that there are programs and templates that help with both those things and that the real skills needed in this profession are how you manage all the pieces. Do you have vision? Can you share it? Are you personable?”

Everyone has their strengths of course and inevitably some are better at math and some are better at drawing – but there are people and programs to help you get to be the best architect you can be with the skills you have and the skills you’re willing to learn. At Lionakis, developing EP’s is a priority. This unique program not only gives young professionals like Sam a support group to study with, but allows each member to challenge the other to stay on task – and sign up for the next test! In general, Sam tells us it has helped him to navigate the sometimes bumpy ride towards licensure by providing him with many valuable resources that not many firms have.

Want to know more about working at Lionakis and how to become an Emerging Professional?  Here is a list of our open positions. We’re always looking for great candidates!