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Blog

Spotlight On: McKenzie Betfort, Associate AIA

Mez Joseph

A native of Charleston, McKenzie quickly found her passion in the built and natural environment surrounding architecture. She recently graduated from Clemson University with a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture and a minor in Sustainability. McKenzie looks forward to learning more about practical uses of sustainable techniques and implementing them into real design solutions. After giving her time to settle in, we sat down for a little Q&A with our newest Spotlight On feature.

Where did you grow up?
Right here in Charleston! I went to Charleston County School of the Arts for Dance actually.

Are you married? Do you have children?
HA! No, and the world isn’t ready for more of me.

What is your favorite thing in your house?
The refrigerator? I’m still looking for a special little place to call my own.

What do you like to do when you have free time?
Oh right, I have some of that now…kinda. I love getting together with friends and trying out a new place to eat, watching Clemson Football, going to the beach, concerts and playing pick-up soccer out at Patriots Point. I’ve also picked up painting recently, but nothing to hang on the fridge just yet. I’ll keep you updated.

Do you have any pets? If so, tell us a bit about them.
I’ve always been a big dog lover, but I currently have one cat named Adeline (Adi). She’s the clumsiest and silliest kitten of them all. I adopted her at 4 months and have been training her like a puppy ever since.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?
My graduation from Clemson. I know it’s just the first step in my route to licensure, but there were plenty of moments where I was reminded that nothing is a sure thing. I truly fought for my degree and I think it means more to me because of that.

What building have you visited that most impressed you?
I got to visit so many wonderful places and buildings thanks to Clemson’s study abroad program, including the Brion Cemetery by Carlo Scarpa, the Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain and a few Palladian villas. That being said, the one that sticks out to me is the Renzo Piano Building Workshop’s work in Trento's Le Albere district, a riverside site that was originally a Michelin tire factory. They have redone the district with multi-use buildings and a new park with a wonderful museum. It’s a testament to sustainable design and a beautiful meeting point between the industrial history of Trento and the mountains that surround it. You should check it out.

What is your favorite thing about working at Liollio?
The people. A visitor to the office the other day said something that struck me, paraphrasing here, “A [group or an Organization] is only as powerful, influential and good as the individuals who make it up.” I haven’t been here long but I already know that I am very fortunate to be on the same team as these people. Can’t imagine a more talented group to learn from and collaborate with.

What inspires you most?
Visual inspiration is at the ready everyday on social media which is a wonderful thing, but what really provokes me is the way our actions and designs affect the wellness of our community. Serving people and helping them drive their personal narratives and achieve their goals through a well thought out and well-designed built environment.

What is the hardest part about your job?
Getting the glue off my hands at the end of the day, everything else is a much welcomed challenge.

What style of architecture most impresses you or is your favorite?
I’m not sure I have a single favorite style. I think that every style has its place and, if done well, offers something to be learned.

Favorite book?
At the moment its Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Favorite place in Charleston?
Being out on the water or at the beach. These days, it’s harder to find a quiet spot, but once you do, it can’t be beat.

Favorite food?
Either Fried Green Tomatoes from Page’s Okra, Sloppy Smoke Sandwich from Smoke BBQ, Pesto, or Mexican food.

What is your least favorite food?
Milk. Specifically the kind from cows.

If you could be an animal, what would you be and why?
River Otter. They just always look like they’re having so much fun together. Plus they’re so cute!

Do you play any instruments?
I have played piano, violin, ukulele, guitar, recorder, harmonica, the finger harp, and once got a semi-acceptable noise out of a clarinet. Guitar is the only one I still have and play around with on occasion.

What song is at the top of your most played list (be honest)?
Billie Elish’s entire don’t smile at me album.

Favorite musical artist or genre?
My favorite musical artist is easily Frank Ocean. He is an artist that really doesn’t have one genre to label him.

Favorite artist?
My youngest sister, Erin

Favorite television show?
Game of Thrones, Parks and Recreation, Criminal Minds, or Stranger Things… OR Queer Eye. Definitely one of those.

Last book you read?
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

Last movie you watched?
Forrest Gump

Favorite movie or genre?
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

Guilty pleasure?
Cheese - on anything and everything

Where is your favorite place you’ve traveled to and why?
Ireland is my favorite country I’ve travelled to, but my favorite place is the Cinque Terra in Italy. Beyond just the raw beauty of the towns (and the food and wine), it was the first time I got to travel outside of our school groups with a very dear friend. I immediately felt at home and at peace totally immersed in those mountains and cultures. It was by far and large the best trip of my life so far.

What would the book or movie about your life be called?
It’s Not for Lack of Trying

Who would play you in a movie about your life?
A mixture of Zendaya, Blake Lively and Amy Poehler. Just blend them together.

What’s your astrological sign?
Taurus

What three traits define you?
Hair.
Humor.
Heart.

What’s one thing you couldn’t live without?
My best friends. I truly have the best in the world. SHOUT OUT TO RANDI, LAUREN & MIKE (and queso).

What is the greatest challenge you have had to overcome in your life thus far?
This will probably come as a surprise even though I’ve only been here a short time, but I’ve had a lifelong struggle with anxiety and depression. I won’t say I’ve overcome it just yet, but I try to bring my best self forward every day and treat every day as a chance to start over- a new opportunity.

What is your greatest fear?
Failure

If you could do another job for just one day, what would it be?
Either an actor in a Marvel Superhero movie, a character at Disney World or a History/ English teacher.

What would you most like to tell yourself at age 13?
Have more fun. Do the things you aren’t sure about, and everything will work itself out in time.

How do you define success?
Happiness