Alumni Spotlight: Kayla Bailey ’19
Kayla Bailey graduated from Auburn’s School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture (APLA) in 2019 with a Bachelor of Architecture and a Bachelor of Interior Architecture. She currently works as a registered interior designer and architectural project coordinator for Studio 2H Design LLC, a woman-owned and minority-owned architecture firm in Birmingham, Alabama. In terms of working with both architecture and interior design Bailey says there is a lot of overlap. “There’s a lot of correlation between the two, and my role is just to put it all together.”
Since graduating from Auburn, Bailey has worked on two major projects in the Birmingham area: the BJCC Legacy Arena, which hosts various concerts and sporting events, and Protective Stadium, a 45,000-seat facility built for high school, college and USFL football as well as the Legions, the Birmingham FC soccer team. The BJCC Legacy Arena was closed in 2020 to undergo a massive interior and exterior renovation. When it reopened in 2022, the facility had a new four-story lobby with VIP suites and club space. The renovated open concept concourse included all new concession stands, restrooms and seating areas. “It was a phenomenal project,” Bailey stated. “We did a complete interior renovation, painted and added new finishes to the whole exterior and added a grand entrance.” Bailey and the Studio 2H Design team worked extensively on an overhaul of the Arena Club, a private lounge for patrons who have seats on the court, with new high end finishes, carpet, lighting and more. Around the same time, Bailey was also working on the new Protective Stadium, where her team focused on the design of the concourse level one-story buildings which included the concession stands, restrooms and other support facilities.
Having served as president of the National Organization of Minority Architecture Students at Auburn, Bailey was used to working with people from other areas of design, but she was surprised at the amount of interaction between firms and disciplines on these two big projects. “That was new to me,” she said. “I never really expected such partnership between different firms working together on larger projects.” She said that the stadium project required an incredible amount of coordination between the four architectural design firms and the multiple engineering firms that had to work together. “Because of BIM modeling and other new technology, you can now easily work together and become one big master team,” she explained.
Beyond these two giant ventures, Bailey has worked on plenty of other projects around Birmingham. She has recently created designs for a restaurant, a daycare, an airport lounge, a library and a salon. She is currently working on designing MARO, a new Asian Fusion restaurant in Mountain Brook, Alabama, that will open this coming fall. “I can’t wait to eat there!” she exclaimed. “I want to get into hospitality a little more, because it’s so much fun to design restaurants and lounges.”
With a younger brother and a sister still in school at Auburn, Bailey returns to campus frequently. Not only does she come to visit, but she also serves on alumni panels for the Tiger Excellence Scholars Program. She is most grateful to Associate Professor Kevin Moore for his support of the students majoring in both architecture and interior architecture. “Whenever we went into juries, he knew all of our projects and he truly understood what we were trying to accomplish. He would help us articulate that to the jurors so we weren’t floundering. He was always showing us cool projects on project site visits and studio trips. And it’s the way he taught; He would really listen to us.”
Last fall, Bailey was named by the Birmingham Business Journal as a NextGen BHM Honoree in the area of real estate and construction. These honorees were highlighted as emerging leaders in their fields who are helping to shape the city of Birmingham and the surrounding communities. Bailey said she didn’t quite believe it when she heard she was nominated. “I thought it was fake!” she laughed. “And I still don’t know who nominated me.” In addition to the honor of the nomination, a benefit of the NextGen BHM honors was the opportunity to network with other community leaders from different fields and industries. “I met people who are really thriving and who have huge goals for Birmingham,” she stated. “Our fields don’t necessarily overlap, but it was awesome to meet them and to hear what their plans are for the city.”