Hi! I’m Emily Mottram, and this is my story:
I was raised by two amazing parents who taught me I could be whatever I wanted to be. I grew up a dairy farmers kid. We didn’t live on (or own) the farm, but my dad still works 15 hours a day most days. I grew up with a really strong work ethic, and architecture is a hard profession. It requires equal parts determination and imagination. It probably didn’t hurt that growing up in a farming community was like surrounding yourself with entrepreneurs. So that may be why I was drawn to start my own firm, but why I chose architecture is a whole different story. Construction and woodworking runs in our family. My grandfather was a contractor and while I was in high school we participated in several summer work camps where we travelled to communities in need and rehabbed homes. He got to be the one in charge, sharing his expertise. I got to be the one holding the paintbrush or screwing down flooring in a 4×8 bathroom with no window, in Georgia, in August. Not only did it teach me a few things about construction, but it had an impact on why I choose to be involved with two local community action agencies. Truly, everyone deserves access to good housing. And when I found out that one of those housing agencies was going to partner with a local trade high school so the students could learn how to build energy efficient homes, It brought me back to this experience and how it shaped my future. But I chose to go to architecture school because my high school drafting teacher told me “architecture school is really hard” I said “Challenge Accepted” Thank you Mr Oatman, you had a huge impact on my life.
My love of travel had a major impact on the school I chose to go to. I was raised in Pennsylvania and my parents wanted me to go to an in-state school. There are 5 architecture schools in Pennsylvania, and I chose Penn State because they had the only program that integrated a study abroad semester into the curriculum. I spent a semester living in Rome and I learned so much by immersing myself in another culture. And Mr Oatman was right, architecture school is hard. Penn State’s program got hundreds of applicants, they took 100, and at the end of our 5-year college experience, only 30 people graduated with a degree in Architecture. I still love to travel, and my husband and I do so as often as we can. And every day I think that being an architect is hard! (But rewarding)
After graduation, my husband and I lived in Washington DC for two years. I worked for a great firm that strictly did residential design, and I knew that was what I wanted to do. But through college, and maybe subconsciously through the way I was raised, I developed an interest in building science and sustainable design. My grandfather had a solar panel on to make hot water all the way back in the 80’s. My thesis was about deconstructing obsolete objects and turning them into art by using the skilled labor force in factory towns that no longer had industry. And if I hadn’t gotten into architecture school, I would have gone to school for science. By 2007 we were ready to move closer to one side of the family or the other. We flipped a coin and his family in Maine won and I picked a firm that did more sustainable work. By 2009, the market was terrible. It actually became a joke that being an Architect was considered “gainfully unemployed”. Instead of throwing in the towel, I said “What am I interested in, and what does Maine need”. And that’s when I started doing energy audits, energy engineering, and gained a few more certifications that taught me how to look at buildings just a little bit differently. That’s when I knew I had found my true passion. And that is what led me to start designing energy efficient, zero energy ready, and super insulated homes. It’s not enough that it saves you money or that it uses less fossil fuels. It has to be somewhere you WANT to live. It has to be comfortable, durable, healthy, and beautiful. Because, I believe homes have an impact on your physical, social, mental and economic well being. And that was what I thought Maine needed and is the foundation that I have built Mottram Architecture on.
And even though you’re on my business page, I want you to know, that I’m not just an architect. I’m a wife and mom to two fur-kids (Bastian, a min pin and Chase, a shepherd rescue). I love to hike, kayak and read. I’m a teacher at heart and have taught several sustainable design and building science classes. I learn just as much from my students as they do from me. And even though I’m very social, I am an introvert. My mom said I always marched to the beat of a different drummer, while my husband is convinced that I am not “inside the box”, I’m not even aware there “is a box”. I think square footage is just a number and stuff is just stuff. I lead an adventurous life, whether it is traveling with my husband or taking my nieces and nephews on adventures. I try to lead a purpose filled, balanced life by doing yoga, reading business books, traveling, and working when and where I am most productive. I became and architect because I wanted a challenge. I remain an architect because it’s rewarding and I get to design beautiful spaces that make people happy and healthy!