Exclusive ILMA Interviews

Thank you for all the support and encouragement over the years.  The following are some of our favorite interviews we have had over the past several years.  Hope you enjoy reading about the lives of Architects and how they decided to become architects and what keeps them inspired today!

An Exclusive Interview with Architect @FrankCunhaIII

Our Exclusive ILMA Interview with @KimVierheilig

Our Exclusive ILMA Interview with Jeff Venezia, AIA of @DIGroupArch

Our Exclusive ILMA Interview with Reginald Thomas

Our Exclusive ILMA Interview with Rosario Mannino @RSMannino

Our Exclusive ILMA Interview with Caterina Roiatti of @TRAstudio

Our Exclusive ILMA Interview with @Collier1960 Collier Ward

Our Exclusive ILMA Interview with Matthew B. Jarmel, AIA, MBA of @JarmelKizel

Our Exclusive ILMA Interview with Daniel D’Agostino, AIA of Plan Architecture

Our Exclusive ILMA Interview with Tim Witzig of @PKSBArchitects

Our Exclusive ILMA Interview with Toon Dreessen @ArchitectsDCA

Our Exclusive ILMA Interview with Felicia Middleton @UrbanAesthetics

Our Exclusive ILMA Interview with Enoch Sears @BusinessofArch

Our Exclusive ILMA Interview with Jenny Roets @Arch_Girl

Exclusive ILMA Interview with Kurt Kalafsky, AIA @KurtKalafsky

Our Exclusive ILMA Interview with ADA Specialist, Marcela Abadi Rhoads @Abadi_Access

Exclusive ILMA Interview with Tara Imani, AIA @Parthenon1 (Part 1)

Exclusive ILMA Interview with Tara Imani, AIA @Parthenon1 (Part 2)

Exclusive ILMA Interview with Aspiring Architect, Ian Siegel

Exclusive ILMA Interview with Aspiring Architect, John Fernandes

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,

FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook

 


Our Exclusive ILMA Interview with @KimVierheilig

AECOM welcomed Kim Vierheilig, AIA, LEED AP BD+C as vice president and managing principal for our Design and Consulting Services New Jersey Buildings + Places practice in June of 2018. Kim brings 19 years of experience in the development and leadership of high-performing teams and has worked across the education, transit, hospitality and corporate commercial sectors. As managing principal for the New Jersey team, she will provide strategic oversight, management and direction for the region’s architecture; engineering; interiors; design + planning/ economics; strategy plus and asset advisory practices.

“In everything that we do, we create value,” says Kim. “Our focus is on design excellence and creating value by bringing the very best in interdisciplinary thinking to our clients and our communities. I’m thrilled to work with the talented team here at AECOM to develop effective, innovative and holistic solutions for our region’s most pressing challenges.”

Prior to joining AECOM, Kim most recently served as vice president for another firm where she managed the architectural, business development and marketing departments. Over the course of her career, she has partnered with clients across markets to deliver highly engaging environments. With clients such as Unilever, Four Seasons and Marriott Hotels and many K-12 and higher education institutions, she has built a portfolio of award-winning work and is widely recognized for her impact on the development industry. In 2017, Kim was named one of the Best 50 Women in Business by NJBIZ and received the Outstanding Woman Award from the Women Builder’s Council. She has also been recognized in the NJBIZ 40 Under 40 and honored with the 2016 Smart CEO Brava Award. From the New Jersey Institute of Technology, she holds a Master of Science in Management and a Bachelor of Architecture.

“Kim will lead [AECOM’s] teams in New Jersey to connect and creatively partner with our clients to develop the most impactful projects in the region,” says Tom Scerbo, vice president, Buildings + Places, New York metro regional lead. “Kim’s depth of experience leading teams to deliver complex, functional buildings and places affords our team strategic growth opportunities and brings tremendous value to our clients.”

 

ILMA INTERVIEW

When and why did you decide to become an Architect?    

Growing up an only child, I was always encouraged to participate in anything that was of interest. My weekends often involved household construction projects with my dad, which I enjoyed tremendously. At the age of ten, I decided I wanted to become an architect. Architecture was the natural choice of a profession that blended creativity and science.

What were some of the challenges of achieving your dream?     

As a woman in the architecture and engineering industry, where women make up only 15% of the job force, there were several challenges I faced to get to where I am today. In beginning of my career, I was the sole woman at the firm slotted as the office “receptionist,” where I answered phones and made coffee while designing and working on building projects. I was told I was not allowed to go into the field for construction site visits, even though my male counterparts were allowed, because I was “too much of a liability.” I realized that I could either complain about the situation or take what opportunities presented themselves and use these to better myself.  It wasn’t long until in addition to answering the phones, clients were calling to talk to me about projects, not just get transferred to a male colleague.  What I’ve learned is that in every bad situation there is something you can take from it to grow both personally and professionally.  Although eventually I left that firm, to find a company that more fully supported my development as an architect, there is no doubt my early work experiences made me a more passionate professional who wants to support the next generation of female architects.

How does your family support what you do?  

My family has always been extremely supportive of my career. As a partner of my firm, I often travel or attend evening receptions. I am fortunate enough to rely on my family’s support which has been a major factor in my success.

How do Architects measure success?    

I like to think I have a broader vision of what architects and engineers can bring to their communities through the design and construction industry. Almost all of the projects we work on have an impact on our communities; a successful project is one that fosters long-term relationships with the client and positively impacts the community.

What matters most to you in design?    

To me, designing a space that sparks creativity is most important. Using a holistic design approach, we focus on incorporating light, flexibility, choice, connection, complexity, and color into all of our designs.

What type of technology do you see in the design and construction industries?

Over the last few years, we’ve seen a significant shift in technology in the A/E/C industry. We are now incorporating virtual reality renderings and realistic walk-throughs of buildings or spaces, as well as, 3D printed models to allow our clients to better understand our design before construction begins.

How do you hope to inspire / mentor the next generation of Architects?   

I have been active in mentoring female architects on many different levels, from helping to fund architectural scholarships, to lobbying for change in the intern development process, assembling opportunities through design competitions to promote general learning, and serving as an individual mentor to numerous staff with her firm. I have partnered with various vendors and professional organizations to bring awareness about the challenges facing female architects. As such, I previously served as the American Institute of Architecture (AIA) Women in Architecture Chair for New Jersey to educate women on how to conduct business in a male-dominated industry by hosting seminars and providing networking opportunities with successful women speakers from various disciplines.

What advice would you give aspiring architects (K-12)? College students? Graduates?

I am an advocate and mentor for young women who wish to pursue a career in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields. If I could give any advice to aspiring architects, I would say to break the barriers and follow your passion. This is a great industry with amazing potential.

Final Thoughts on How to Be Successful?

Continue to push forward every day by overcoming any hurdles that might face you and success will find you.

For more exclusive ILMA interviews click here.

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,
FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook


Our Exclusive ILMA Interview with Reginald Thomas

New York, New Jersey Reginald L. Thomas, AIA has garnered over twenty years’ experience working with a diverse group of distinguished architectural/design firms in New York City.  Reginald L. Thomas Architect LLC specializes in historically based, high-end, residential projects. Recently, he has added commercial and institutional work to the firm’s diverse clientele. His work has been featured in several prestigious publications, notably The New York Times and Architectural Digest.

Web | Blog | Facebook | LinkedIn | Houzz

ILMA INTERVIEW

When and why did you decide to become an Architect? 

  • I’ve wanted to be an architect since I was 10 years old. During a weekend visit to the local art store to purchase paints, a how to book on architectural rendering caught my eye.   I remember thinking that the floor plans seemed magical.
  • We can thank Mike Brady, of the then popular Sitcom, the Brady Bunch, for that.  My first introduction to renderings and models came from watching the episodes after school and I was hooked.
  • Growing up in New York City, however, I visited the Museum of Natural History and MOMA regularly.  I was fascinated by the dioramas at the Museum of Natural History and the artwork at the MOMA and so at first, I dreamt of being an artist and being able to create this kind of beauty.

What were some of the challenges of achieving your dream?    

  • I grew up in the South Bronx, so the first challenge was of course, money.  I fretted about how I was going to pay for college or even how I was going to apply to college.  It was stressful to think that I would have to help my siblings after college and therefore not be able to realize my own dreams.

Any memorable clients or project highlights?   

  • I’ve had the pleasure of working with corporate giants, entertainment and sports celebrities as well as hard working people who are interested in living in beautiful spaces. All are special to me.  Each project has its own individual story However, I have had clients that allowed me to design and build every inch of their space including the furniture. That’s amazing in today’s climate.

How does your family support what you do?    

  • College was a priority in my household as both my parents attended college.  My dad for his Associates Degree and my mother for her Master’s in Education.  , Although I did not have money I had an abundance of support for what I wanted to accomplish and an expectation that I get there.

How do Architects measure success?   

  • I believe versatility is a skill we all value as designers. We build projects that are beautiful as well as functional. Being able to create an aesthetically pleasing space to satisfy each of my client’s specific   taste and at the same time ensuring that it functions is its own reward.

What matters most to you in design?

What do you hope to achieve over the next 2 years? 5 years?

  • To grow my business using all of the experience I’ve garnered over the last 30 years in multiple jurisdictions.
  • Like most artists, I also wish to push the barriers of my creativity while remaining true to the traditional and timeless nature of my designs.

Who is your favorite Architect? Why?    

  • Paul Rudolph for salesmanship, talent, and cultural navigation skills which were beyond belief
  • Frank Lloyd for his skill, as well as his ability to convince his clients to be daring and tenacious.
  • Julia Morgan for her dedication and ability when she was the only one, and her clients who recognized and rewarded her abilities.

Do you have a coach or mentor?

What is your favorite historic and modern (contemporary) project? Why?

  • The Great Pyramids of Giza. They are pure form, functional and beautiful.  It was once written by an early 19th century explorer who catalogued the proclivity for ornamentation throughout the known world that what we are able to see of Egyptian Architecture now is this architecture represents the last 2500 of this work in decline, what left of this 5000 year old architectural culture.
  • If that be the case, then how much more glorious the architectural vocabulary of this civilization must be. The elements of order including the concept of hyper style halls must be astounding. These are the elements that make an edifice “timeless.”
  • Notre Dame du Haut: The building teaches the intangibles of architecture as art. How does one use light as a design element?  Most people will never even notice how the intangible shapes made by light in their space let alone the effects on their psychological health.
  • The Mildred B Cooper Memorial Chapel: The boundaries that identify characteristics of nature and the difference from manmade structures are so blurred I this building that it is magical. I think in this design he did make his mentor proud. It is truly great work.

Where do you see the profession going over the next few decades? 

  • I think we are finally reaching the point where we are accepting the fact that we are part of a global community.  That means a true understanding, in real time, of the relationship and importance of urban design, architecture and interior design etc. to the human conditions.
  • Our use of technology will continue to grow at a rapid pace and architects will be required to leverage their expertise to benefit the world community especially in the areas of sustainability, and resilience.
  • I am most excited by the possibility of the profession as the lead, taking on the real-estate profession as developers

What type of technology do you see in the design and construction industries?

  • The digital drafting board and smart drafting solutions. The stylus is back, Instant 3d models and the expansion of BIM as a tool.
  • Wireless outlets
  • ASCII, GPS, LiDAR technology continue to advance. Assisting historic preservation giving a vision of what was formally unseen thereby assisting design and limiting errors.
  • 3d modeling, as a tool, will advance to the point that we will grow more independent of contractors and furniture designers

Who / what has been your greatest influence in design?  

  • The reading of a Pattern Language. The book continues to teach me to think in layers until I get to the optimum solution.
  • Jean Michele Frank: The comprehensive business model that he practiced was one to be envied and to be emulated.
  • My mentors Max Bond and Richard Dozier.
  • New York City designers that I’ve work for like Peter Marino and Juan Montoya

Which building or project type would you like to work on that you haven’t been part of yet?   

  • A Place of worship on an island site

How do you hope to inspire / mentor the next generation of Architects?   

  • I hope to inspire the next generation through visibility. African-American descent represents a very small part of the architectural demographics.
  • I hope to write treatise and guides thereby leaving a guide to others to build on.
  • My suggestion always is to be assiduous; to be relentless, recognizing that  this is a lifelong area of study, one that requires . “long distance runners.”

What advice would you give aspiring architects (K-12)? College students? Graduates?

  • The best advice for K-12 is to engage with architects when they come in to your schools on career days.  It is important as this stage to really get a clear understanding of what an architect does and the value of architects’ play in their daily lives.
  • College students: Provide information and honest dialogue on expectations after graduation; how to set reasonable and attainable goals, and lastly the many ways to measure success.
  • Financial guidance on how to plan for a secure retirement.
  • Explain what it means to own one’s own firm.

What does Architecture mean to you? 

  • Architecture is life.  It is the culmination of the aspirations of the human condition at different time periods.
  • Architecture means being conscious of the places and spaces we occupy as humans.  It’s being in the unique position of being able to effect change in the communities welive in a way that is unique to no other profession

What is your design process? 

  • Client interview: Do more listening than writing.
  • Who or what community am I designing for.
  • Identify client particulars not just in program but culturally. How does the client perceive and use space. What is the corporate or family dynamic?
  • Where am I being asked to design?
  • What are the constraints of the site or space?
  • How do I make it function perfectly and at the same time be beautiful?

If you could not be an Architect, what would you be?  

  • Apart from very early on when I wanted to be an artist I have never given thought to being anything else, however, if you were to ask my father, a surgeon would have been his preference.

What is your dream project?  

  • One that encompasses urban planning, landscape architecture, architecture as sculpture, interior design and furniture design; the complete package in the vernacular of the local culture.

What advice do you have for future Executive leaders?  

  • Seek out and work with like-minded people who share your vision and whom you can trust to honestly evaluate, and counsel you.  Also, do not be afraid to delegate or share responsibility giving you the time and space you need as the leader to imagine and create.

What are three key challenges you face as a leader in business today and one trend you see in your industry?    

  • The challenge of finding curious and willing junior staff who are willing to put in the long hours needed to really learn the ins and outs of the profession.
  • Loyalty
  • Finding staff that is willing to learn how to build, even, by drawing the components rather than by cutting and pasting.
  • My hope is that with the advances in Wacom Tablet technology we will have monitors as drafting boards and stylus as pencils causing the young architect to unconsciously pay more attention to what and how the building is being created.

What one thing must an executive leader be able to do to be successful in the next 3 years?

  • The executive leader must to be able to leverage the power of the internet and especially social media

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?    

  • I have been surprised at how much television, social media and the internet have impacted the decisions we now make as leaders.

Final Thoughts on How to Be Successful?   

  • Improving and adapting are keys to longevity and to success.   Be relentless in your desire to grow and learn recognizing that learning is a lifelong pursuit.

For more exclusive ILMA interviews click here.

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,
FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook


Our Exclusive ILMA Interview with Rosario Mannino @RSMannino

Rosario Mannino was born and raised in New Jersey.  He holds a Bachelor of Architecture from Florida Atlantic University and a Professional Certificate from New York University in Construction Project Management. Eight years after graduating from FAU, Mannino founded the Architect-Led Design-Build company RS|MANNINO Architecture + Construction.  RS|MANNINO builds on our diverse professional and construction backgrounds to provide a balanced and thoughtful approach to our clients’ projects. Together with our trusted network of professionals, trade and supplier resources, we bring the expertise and hands-on experience in architecture, design, engineering, construction trades, and project management necessary to make every project we take on a success. They approach everything we do with a commitment to an integrated design and construction process.  For more information visit them online FacebookTwitter; LinkedInWebsite

ILMA INTERVIEW

When did you first become interested in Architect-Led Design-Build?

I knew I wanted to be an architect from a very young age.  Growing up around construction, I was so intrigued by the entire process.  I loved being on the job site watching the architectural plans unfold into a beautiful home or building.  I always thought I had to decide on which path to pursue: architecture vs. construction/office vs. jobsite.  I had been exploring the idea of both disciplines from a very young age, and it grew into a focused research project for me by the time I reached high school.  I don’t think there was ever this “ah ha” moment.  It was a passion that I had from the start.

Can you describe the process of ALDB?

As the Architect, we contract with the owner both to design and to construct a building, and we procure the construction services by contracting directly with the various construction trades.

Can you walk us through a typical project?

In ALDB, we start our projects very similarly to a traditional method.  We start with a budget and scope.  If the budget and scope are approved, we start to design.  Once we complete our schematic design, we provide an updated preliminary estimate.  Once we confirm we are within budget, we continue to refine the design and the cost estimates.  We want our clients to be informed and included throughout the entire process.   This factor creates a trusting relationship between our firm and our clients.  With our method, the clients only need to communicate with us.  There are less parties involved making communication much more efficient.

How are the fees structured?

Depends on the complexity and size of the project; some are hourly design fees with the Construction documents set at a fixed fee which is determined after Schematic Design.  Most of our projects are defined well enough that we can provide a professional fee plus reimbursable expenses.  Our Construction Management fee is a fixed fee which also includes a pre-construction management fee.  Occasionally we will perform Construction as a fixed price.

What are some of the risks and rewards of ALDB?

If a problem arises, there is only one place to point the finger.  In the traditional design-bid-build method, miscommunication between Architect and Contractor can cause unnecessary tension.  With ALDB, the entire process is much more cohesive creating a team-like environment. The clients also feel a sense of comfort when only having to communicate with one entity.

What are the three greatest challenges with ALDB process?

Higher Insurance premiums – This is one of the main reasons why we separate our business entities, having separate insurance for both entities and separate contracts for the client.

Most Architecture firms can take on smaller projects if the work load is slowing down, and most builders have very small overhead to compensate for the slower times. With ALDB, you need to have separate staff for both Architecture and Construction; it’s a bigger machine to feed.

Training new staff is much more of an investment because overall, they are becoming much more knowledgeable about our whole profession. There is even more training involved because new staff must learn both Architecture and Construction. It is extremely gratifying to educate Architects to think in a different way.

What are the three greatest advantages of ALDB?

One of the best advantages of being an ALDB firm is that we get to work directly with the craftsmen themselves to discuss how we can make improvements to the project; it is a learning experience for both of us. We appreciate this close relationship, and I am certain our craftsmen enjoy working in close contact with the designer. The designer and the craftsman work directly together.

As the Architect, we take on a role that allows better control of project budgets, schedules, and overall project quality, including the quality of design.

It’s so much fun. I think it’s so much fun because we are truly going back to being Master builders. As Architects we love to problem solve; that’s what we do all day long, but now it’s even more in depth and more dynamic.

Do you see ALDB as a way for Architects to take back “control” of the design and construction process?

For certain markets, yes.  I have had the pleasure of working on projects with unlimited design budgets, having total control of the project as the Architecture firm.  In reality, not every client is going to have an unlimited budget.  The client relationship in ALDB is far greater than in a traditional design-bid-build method.  We have found our clients to be so much more appreciate of our talents on our design-build projects vs. our design only jobs.  Some of our design jobs have a 2-3 month duration, followed by phone calls and quick site meetings.  In design-build, we have a much closer relationship with our clients; most of them feel like family before the project is over!

Why do you think that most Architects, Clients and Contractors shy away from ALDB?

For Architects, it is not necessarily something they ever thought about because they weren’t introduced to it.  We are trained in (most) schools to be Starchitects with grand budgets.  After school and our internship is completed, most architects find the niche they are most comfortable in.  I cannot say that ALDB is easy nor is it for everyone to pursue.  There is a more executive and dynamic role; there is a much more entrepreneurial mode to ALDB as opposed to running a boutique design firm.  You can be a one-person design firm, but to do design-build you need to build a solid team.  The daily tasks of designing, managing the office, managing the sites, and keeping finances in order is not for everyone, nor can one person do it all.  It requires a great team, and we are fortunate to have that.

I have not yet met a client who shied away from ALDB. However, we do work on design only jobs.  This usually happens when the client already has a relationship with a contractor.  We are agreeable to this because we can only build so much, and we want our clients to be comfortable with who they are working with.

For contractors, there is a sense of losing the market.  Good builders and contractors should not be concerned.  They may choose to adapt, but to be honest I do not think this will be some sweeping trend in the AEC industry.

What are some of the tools you use (from AIA, NCARB, Insurance Company, Other Professional Organizations) to help you manage your firm’s performance and reduce risk?

I have read a lot of literature on ALDB; the AIA has a few great articles as well as a book on ALDB.  There is an organization specifically for design-build called Design Build Institute of America (DBIA).  This organization is geared more toward government and large-scale projects.  There are also a few attorneys who have published articles on ALDB that have been very helpful.

My research has lead me to separate my design and construction contracts, but each project is unique.  I treat each project differently.  I cannot really say I have a set method because our scale of work differs so greatly, spanning a large spectrum.  On one end, we have worked on small kitchen renovations, and on the other end we have done new construction on vacant lots.

What is the percentage of ALDB your firm is currently working on – what are the major differences between traditional project delivery vs ALDB projects?

Being recently engaged in a few large multi-family developments, we’ve found that we are providing more than the basic services on those scale projects.  This is due to our experience.  Developers are taking advantage of our management and construction background.  Our role is much more than just producing design documents.   I would say we are about 60% design only and 40% ALDB projects.

Is there anything you would like to see to make the ALDB even better for future projects?

I hope to see more architecture schools incorporating some type of design-build programs.  If Architects played a larger role, communities would greatly benefit.  It would be nice if ALDB gained more popularity so that clients can learn to appreciate Architects playing a larger role.

For more exclusive ILMA interviews click here.

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,
FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook

 


Our Exclusive ILMA Interview with Caterina Roiatti of @TRAstudio

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.

For more information: Web Site  ; Facebook Page ; Instagram ; Twitter ; LinkedIn

ILMA INTERVIEW

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? 

Executive thinking

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…

For more exclusive ILMA interviews click here.

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,
FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook


Our Exclusive ILMA Interview with @Collier1960 Collier Ward

Collier Ward is a registered Architect, an aspiring novel and short story writer, an acknowledged construction industry influencer, and a follower of Jesus, who thrives on communication and community.

“One of my long-term career goals is to see more books, movies, and television shows about architects and architecture. For years I have said “Architecture Holds a Thousand Stories” and it remains an untapped source for dramatic content. If you are in charge of story development in the entertainment industry I would be glad to discuss the comedy and drama embedded in my profession. If you have interest in any of these subjects, I’d be pleased to connect with you.” -Collier Ward

Connect with Collier Ward on LinkedIn or  Twitter.

ILMA INTERVIEW

When and why did you decide to become an Architect?

As a child, I’m not even sure how old I was, I saw my older brother drawing a floor plan. I didn’t understand the series of rectangles and asked him what it was. He informed me that it was our house. To me, a house was depicted by the archetypal image of a simple box with a door, a sloped roof, and a chimney with a swirl of smoke. I told him it was an awful drawing. He explained that it was what we’d see from above if we took the roof off and looked in from above. Then I saw it! The bedrooms, the kitchen, the carport were just as they should be. Although I considered art teacher, artist, cartoonist, and ad man as possible careers, this childhood revelation of architecture proved to be my origin story.

What were some of the challenges of achieving your dream?

Other than a few financial struggles and loan debts (which don’t even compare to today’s students’) my schooling and internship were fairly typical. From the first day I walked on campus (Auburn University, 1979) to the day I became registered in North Carolina was just under a decade.

Any memorable clients or project highlights?

As an intern, I worked on the College of Architecture building at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. The design architect was Gwathmey Siegel (I worked for the local firm that produced the Construction Documents.) I had the pleasure of detailing the three monumental stairs in the main gallery, based on concepts by Charles Gwathmy. Since then I’ve worked with many Architects who climbed those stairs and pulled all-nighters in those studios.

How does your family support what you do?

My wife and I were married in my third year of school. If there were awards for architects’ spouses Celese would have several by now. She has supported, humored, and encouraged me to this day.

Who is your favorite Architect? Why?

As a student, I had two architects (one past, one current) that inspired and influenced me most; both for their writings as well as their designs. I think it’s interesting that both Alvar Aalto and Robert Venturi practiced with their wives.

What is your favorite modern (contemporary) project? Why?

Having grown up in St. Louis, MO, the Gateway Arch (as much sculpture as a building) has always been a favorite landmark for me. It was a source of pride – we took visitors up when they came to town. It was also a link to my fascination with Finnish architecture.

Where do you see the profession going over the next few decades?

Our profession has transformed very little over the past three decades. Groups within the profession push for change (improved education, environmental sustainability, employment diversity, etc,) but to the rank and file architect (and the clients we serve) I’m not sure much has changed. Nevertheless, I have hope for future.

What does Architecture mean to you?

“True Architecture exists only where man stands in the center, his comedy and tragedy both,” said Alvar Aalto. When all is said and done, architecture is the stage upon which we live the stories of our lives.

If you could not be an Architect, what would you be?

This is my favorite question. I will always be an architect, but I hope to reach more people with my other passion – writing. For years I have said, “Architecture holds a thousand stories.” Our profession is a closed book to most people. I believe well-written stories will reveal to the population at large what Architects can do. Every other profession has its TV shows, books, and movies; why not Architecture?

What is your dream project?

Per my previous answer, I would like to be the story consultant for a movie or TV series that accurately portrays what architects do – and can do – for our society. I want a wide audience to know the joy and drama that is embedded in every work of architecture.

Final Thoughts on How to Be Successful?

As cliché as it sounds, hard work is essential. But not hard work and long hours for the sake of fulfilling a stereotype; hard work toward a personal goal. I quote Daniel Burnham; “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work…”

For more exclusive ILMA interviews click here.

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,
FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook

 


Our Exclusive ILMA Interview with Jeff Venezia, AIA of @DIGroupArch

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

 

Click to Follow the DIGroup: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn

ILMA INTERVIEW

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?  

My favorite historic building would be the Pantheon in Rome.  Favorite contemporary – the Kimball Art Museum in Texas by Louis Kahn.

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.

For more exclusive ILMA interviews click here.

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,
FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook

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