Our Exclusive ILMA Interview with Caterina Roiatti of @TRAstudioPosted: April 25, 2018
Who is Caterina Roiatti?
Caterina Roiatti received her Doctor in Architecture Degree from the IUAV Istituto Universitario di Architettura di Venezia in Italy, she is a Fulbright Scholar and received in 1985 her Master in Architecture from Harvard, where she attended both the GSD, and the Harvard Business School. Prior to founding, in 1995, TRA studio together with her Partner Robert Traboscia, she worked in the modernist offices of Peter Forbes and Pei Cobb Freed and Partners, gained large scale experience at Kohn Pedersen Fox and worked on interiors and identity projects at Vignelli Associates.
She began her own practice in 1995 following a five year association with Mathias Thoerner Design where she was the project architect for several flagship stores worldwide and the coordinator for the branding programs. Having worked in fashion, she understands how, like couture, a well designed interior can empower and improve the user’s self-esteem. TRA studio Architecture pllc, founded in 1995, is the New York based firm led by Caterina Roiatti, AIA, an architect originally from Venice, and Robert Traboscia, an environmental designer and an artist.
When and why did you decide to become an Architect?
My whole family were architects, as hard as the profession looked, they all loved it.
What were some of the challenges of achieving your dream?
This profession presents a new challenge every day, but you get more confident with experience, in the beginning, it is much more difficult to believe that you will find the solution for the project you are working on. Architecture requires endurance, when you are young it is easier to panic.
Any memorable clients or project highlights?
Always the first “big”, (or bigger), client: the New York Academy of Arts, after eighteen years they are still our Client!
How does your family support what you do?
I work with my family, my husband is my partner.
How do Architects measure success?
Surviving first, followed by feeling in control, followed by having fun working.
What matters most to you in design?
Longevity of our projects, timeless design.
What do you hope to achieve over the next 2 years? 5 years?
I always think I will design a skyscraper, but really all projects are a challenge, so they are all good.
Who is your favorite Architect? Why?
I like to look at Herzog de Meuron projects, they approach restoration and adaptive reuse with the same surprising solutions they employ when designing new buildings, yet they remain respectful of the context and historic structures. To me preservation/adaptive reuse is not a specialty, it is simply another aspect of design.
Do you have a coach or mentor?
I think you have to mentor yourself first, but my partner is really my most important mentor.
What is your favorite historic and modern (contemporary) project? Why?
The last project we are working on, favorites come and go, depending on what I am preoccupied with at the moment.
Where do you see the profession going over the next few decades?
My partner and I often marvel at the fact that architects are more and more needed, technology, sustainability, safety requirements, regulations make the profession more complex, which in turn gives responsibility but also control to architects. Other professions are becoming kind of obsolete, everybody can to a certain extent be their own photographer or graphic designer.
What type of technology do you see in the design and construction industries?
We cannot design anything without 3D modeling, I think programs like Revit will be the norm soon for all disciplines.
Who / what has been your greatest influence in design?
The eye of my partner Robert Traboscia, nothing goes out without his approval! In general, I am very curious and I look for new information and inspiration everywhere.
Which building or project type would you like to work on that you haven’t been part of yet?
All, we do everything and get into all challenges. It is amazing how quickly you can become an expert in a new building type, but you always need great consultants.
How do you hope to inspire / mentor the next generation of Architects?
I would tell them that it can be exciting every day, not many professions can offer that, but if you want to make any real money you have to try to be part of the development process and invest in your own projects. Right now we are trying to get our first development project going, it is very exciting.
What advice would you give aspiring architects?
Study all subjects, you will need to know a little of everything.
What does Architecture mean to you? Lifestyle What is your design process? If you could not be an Architect, what would you be? What is your dream project? The next What advice do you have for a future Executive leader?
What are three key challenges you face as a leader in business today and one trend you see in your industry?
The first challenge is always to keep the studio financially healthy, we owe it our staff, the second is to recognize bad clients and the most important never do excellent work, not work you might not want to show!
What one thing must an executive leader be able to do to be successful in the next 3 years?
It takes longer than that to be successful
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?
We are still a small studio, although we have been in business many years, we do learn every day, may be the most important lesson we learned is always strive for more control, not less. More involvement in your projects makes you more essential and, frankly, creates more opportunities for financial reward.
Final Thoughts on How to Be Successful?
Are we that old that people see us as successful just because we have been around a long time? I always think someday we will grow up and truly finally be…
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