Our Exclusive ILMA Interview with Jeff Venezia, AIA of @DIGroupArchPosted: March 15, 2018 | |
Who is Jeff Venezia, AIA?
Jeff holds a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the University of Virginia and has practiced in New Brunswick since 1981. He is presently a Principal Owner and President ofDIGroupArchitecture, a 32 person firm specializing in K-12 Education, Higher Ed, Senior Living and Healthcare. He heads the design and marketing efforts of the firm as well as the Academic Studio which includes K-12 and Higher Ed.
About the Firm
DIGroupArchitecture is a process-centric architecture and design firm. We work tirelessly with our clients to understand their priorities, evaluate the physical and budgetary constraints, and communicate potential options. As a result we create distinctive design solutions that help our clients achieve their vision, with unwavering attention to detail at every scale.
It is our unbiased approach to scale that helps us evolve in the changing climate of contemporary architecture. As many of our clients’ priorities have shifted away from ground-up architecture to renovations and adaptive reuse, our interiors studio has flourished and our graphic design studio has developed a diverse portfolio of projects in environmental graphics, signage and wayfinding, and brand identity.
80% of our business comes from repeat clients.They appreciate our “whatever it takes” approach and principal involvement at every level of every project. Our goal is to make every client a “legacy” client doing project after project and improving the experience of those who occupy the facilities we have created together as partners.
Memorial Elementary School
Phillipsburg High School
Remsen Ave. Firehouse
Jonathan Dayton High School Media Center
When and why did you decide to become an Architect?
I’ve wanted to be an architect since I was about 12 years old. I loved model building, drawing and construction and just knew from that time on what I wanted to be.
What were some of the challenges of achieving your dream?
I think the biggest challenge has always been living up to the level of trust your clients place on you to deliver a project that meets or exceeds their expectations.
Any memorable clients or project highlights?
Most clients are memorable in their own way. Since a lot of our work is for repeat clients we get to know them extremely well over time, both professionally and personally. The best highlights of any of our projects is the reaction of the end users as to how we’ve improved the quality of their everyday lives. That occurs most often in our Healthcare, K-12, Senior Living and Community Rooms projects. One of our top highlights was having our Memorial Elementary School in East Brunswick receive the 2013 AIA New Jersey Honor Award for Excellence in Design, the first NJ public school to be recognized with that award (see photos above).
How do Architects measure success?
We measure success by how a project meets the goals established in the very beginning, especially with regard to program, design, budget and schedule.
Good design does not have to cost more – it requires patience and commitment to doing it right.
Grow the business, develop a transition of ownership strategy, continue to focus on improving our architectural, interior and graphic capabilities.
Who is your favorite Architect? Why?
Unquestionably Alvar Aalto. I love the way his buildings embrace the landscape and often look to him for inspiration.
What is your favorite historic and modern (contemporary) project? Why?
Where do you see the profession going over the next few decades?
We need to reverse the trend of being considered by the public as a commodity. We need to educate the public and our clients on the value added in what we provide in the services we perform. We are not copy or toilet paper.
Who / what has been your greatest influence in design?
The greatest influence on my design work was my 3rd year architecture professor who demanded only the highest quality work from me and forced me out of my comfort zone to continually strive to learn from every project, to grow and become better as an architect.
Which building or project type would you like to work on that you haven’t been part of yet?
Airport – I love the idea of doing something at that scale.
If you could not be an Architect, what would you be?
A National Geographic photographer.
What advice do you have for a future Executive leader?
Always be true to yourself, treat people fairly and conduct yourself with the highest level of integrity. Your word should be your bond.
What are three key challenges you face as a leader in business today and one trend you see in your industry?
Challenges: the economy, dealing with diversity in the work place and the ever-increasing reliance on technology. As mentioned above, the competition and lowering of fees continue on a downward spiral.
What one thing must an executive leader be able to do to be successful in the next 3 years?
Don’t just adapt to change – embrace it.
What are some executive insights you have gained since you have been sitting in the executive leadership seat – or what is one surprise you have encountered as the world of business continues to morph as we speak?
Take risks and have the commitment to see them through. Be a good listener. Show a concern and appreciation for your employees. Be proactive in solving problems. Never let anything fester. Once the attorneys get involved no one is happy with the outcome.
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