Do you recall the first time you saw snow in your life?
For some people, that may not be an easy question to answer, but for Jacobs Director of Emerging Technologies Natasha Luthra, she recalls it vividly. She was 23 years old, having recently moved in whirlwind succession from Pune, India to San Luis Obispo, California, and then on to Buffalo, New York to pursue her Master’s degree in Architecture.
“I had attended a student exchange program at CalPoly (San Luis Obispo) the year prior and fell in love with the education system here in the U.S.,” says Natasha. “I felt that it was designed to let the student explore and expand on their interests instead of forcing them down a single linear path of study. I actually ended up taking classes in the media studies department around both the use of language in media and the use of technology in design, an interest I have taken through into my career.”
So, what was it about the snow in Buffalo that made such an impression on her?
“The snow was fascinating to me because my only other experience with the U.S. was California, so it was certainly a culture shock and it felt very foreign. And while I had never even seen snow before, snowfall in Buffalo is overwhelming! It felt very much like being thrown into the deep end of things.”
It’s that desire to explore the unknown that has fueled Natasha’s career trajectory. As she says, “I think that’s what draws me to my work in general. I like being thrown into the deep end of experiences and expertise that is foreign to me – that’s where the challenge and interest lies!”
The pace of technology changes so rapidly. It’s been interesting to follow that as we grow as an industry and as a company
Age at which Natasha moved from India to the United States
Number of cities Natasha has lived in in the last 15 years
Year Natasha chaired the AIA Technology in Architectural Practice
Joining Jacobs in 2009, Natasha fittingly serves as the company’s Director of Emerging Technologies where she runs an Emerging Ideas Innovation program. Its focus is to incubate transformational ideas, technologies, and tools in parallel to cultivating and validating emerging ideas based on client needs as well as Jacobs strategic mission, to advance the practice through innovative processes. She is also a facilitator trained specifically around our industry’s approach to innovation. In this role, she helps facilitate innovation workshops with Jacobs clients to co-create and co-develop solutions for envisioning and preparing ourselves for the future.
Natasha is a sought-after commentator and thought leader who has spoken about technology, innovation and architecture at conferences like the Leadership Forum at Autodesk University, BILT NA, BILT Asia, BIMForum and the AIA National Convention. She has been featured in and written articles for Architect Magazine, AIA YAF Connection and AUGIWorld.
In 2018, Natasha was the Chair for Technology in Architectural Practice, the AIA knowledge community focused on the intersection of technology and architecture. In this capacity, she hosted the 2018 Building Connections Congress in Washington DC, a conference that looked at the themes of the future of design in the age of AI and machine learning.
While she trained as an architect, she has found that her true impetus is to also be at the tip of the spear as it relates to technology in design. “I like drawing threads of seemingly disparate bits of information and knowledge and finding patterns that fit,” shares Natasha. “That’s something both architecture and technology share in common.”
More from Natasha
CommArch: Creating the Future of Design, Today
Architect Magazine: The Tech to Expect in Architecture in 2018
Columbia: Architecture and Artificial Intelligence
Architect Magazine: Digging into BIM Data
The American Institute of Architects: Embracing artificial intelligence in architecture