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COMO Business Times - The 20 Under 40 Issue - May 2024
Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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2016’s 20 Under 40: Lyria Bartlett, University of Missouri


20 Under 40

Lyria D. Bartlett
Assistant Teaching Professor, University of Missouri; Head Dance Coach, Rock Bridge High School; Architect, Studio 4 LLC
Age: 35

Job description:

I am a creative coach. That’s the best way that I know to briefly describe my life. As a professor at MU, in the Department of Architectural Studies, I teach three classes a semester and advise all of the pre-professional students and student organizations in our program. I am a liaison between the department, community colleges and Columbia Public Schools. I work closely with students to prepare them for careers in architecture, interior design and other design-related professions. My teaching philosophy is structured around a balance between the tactile and the digital, the imagined and the realized. I work heavily in building information modeling and am gradually evolving into virtual reality and fabrication technologies.

As the dance coach at Rock Bridge High School, I work with 21 high school girls and three other coaches, two to four times a week, 52 weeks a year, at 7 a.m. — in a facility that I helped design for the program. We work on dance technique, choreography, teamwork and positive psychology. It is simultaneously the most trying and rewarding thing that I do. As a licensed architect for my company, Studio 4, I typically work on one to two small projects a year for friends.


Columbia (born in Houston, Texas, but moved here at less than a year later).

Years lived in Columbia:



Bachelor of Arts from MU Interdisciplinary Studies; Master of Architecture from Washington University in St. Louis; Master of Arts in art history and archaeology from MU.


My Mom, Lyria B. Bartlett. Hands down, she’s the most amazing person I know. Her balance of endless grace and strength is something I will always try to achieve. Also, Kristin Schwain, professor of art history and archaeology at MU; Keith Miller, architect in Columbia, and Brian MacKay-Lyons, architect in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

What don’t people know about your job?

Most of the things that I teach in the classroom or coach in the studio are life lessons about collaboration and good citizenship, viewed through a designer’s lens. The skills are different, but the principles are the same: learn to identify the problem, evaluate ways to approach it, create a solution that fits best within the given circumstance.

What is the best thing about your job?

Helping people become successful — in whatever way that I was able to contribute. Watching my Facebook feed fill up with the awesome things that people I have worked with are doing every day is simply amazing. I am a proud coach, even when I haven’t worked with someone for over a decade!

A favorite recent project?
The STEAM Bus collaboration with Columbia Public Schools is pretty awesome. The project will continue to develop over the next year, and we hope to find many similar collaborations in the future.

What was your New Year’s resolution in 2015? Did you accomplish it?
Find a balance between work and home. It’s a constant battle, but I’m very happy with the world that my family and I have created.

What are your specific professional goals for 2016?
Build our house (and not have anyone kill me in the process)! Have a happy team of dancers, regardless of our rank, after the National Championships in February! Also to push on with our fabrication laboratory aspirations at MU.

What about your day do you look forward to most?

Walks around our Old Southwest neighborhood with my husband, Brook, our daughter, Lily, and our dog, Gaucho.

What motivates you?


If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?

Designing in Barcelona. It’s my favorite city in the world, and I had a job offer to work there after graduate school.

Community involvement:

I feel like everything I do is based in the CoMo community. A lot of my time is spent at Rock Bridge High School.

Accomplishment you’re most proud of?

Our daughter, Lily.

What do you do for fun?

Eat. Watch sports. Take pictures.

What is your guilty pleasure?

I watch entirely too much HGTV. And peppermint bark — thank God it’s a seasonal item!

Greatest lesson learned?
Be tough (thanks to my three older brothers for delivering this one loud and clear). Stop trying to be like everyone else. It is okay to be different — actually, it’s better.

Want more 20 Under 40? Check out Andrea Paul’s Q&A.

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