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

 


Creating High Performance Buildings through Integrative Design Process

The “High Performance by Integrative Design” film by RMI includes examples of how design teams collaborate in new ways to integrate high-performance design elements, such as daylighting, energy efficiency and renewable energy, for optimal performance. Viewers experience charrette discussions and see the design process unfold on projects such as the Empire State Building retrofit, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Phipps Conservancy in Pittsburgh, the Desert Living Center in Las Vegas, Willow School in New Jersey and Chicago Botanic Gardens.

Typical Design & Construction Process

Conventional planning, design, building, and operations processes often fail to recognize that buildings are part of larger, complex systems. As a result, solving for one problem may create other problems elsewhere in the system.1

Integrative Design & Construction Process

Collaboration leads to innovation

An integrated design process (IDP) involves a holistic approach to high performance building design and construction. It relies upon every member of the project team sharing a vision of sustainability, and working collaboratively to implement sustainability goals. This process enables the team to optimize systems, reduce operating and maintenance costs and minimize the need for incremental capital. IDP has been shown to produce more significant results than investing in capital equipment upgrades at later stages.2


As discussed in a previous post, the integrated process requires more time and collaboration during the early conceptual and design phases than conventional practices. Time must be spent building the team, setting goals, and doing analysis before any decisions are made or implemented. This upfront investment of time, however, reduces the time it takes to produce construction documents. Because the goals have been thoroughly explored and woven throughout the process, projects can be executed more thoughtfully, take advantage of building system synergies, and better meet the needs of their occupants or communities, and ultimately save money, too.3


Considerations and Advantages of an Integrative Design Process:

  • ID&CP processes and strategies can be implemented to varying degrees depending upon the complexity of a project and an owner’s project goals.
  • A project team must be carefully assembled very early on in the process to ensure success.
  • All key participants must subscribe to the collaborative effort of establishment clear goals.
  • All project stakeholders must be involved and remain involved in the project, and must communicate openly and frequently.
  • Key participants must employ appropriate technology to foster collaborative design and construction.

Similar to the Construction Management at Risk approach to project delivery, the owner can benefit from the following IPD advantages:

  • Owner receives early cost estimating input, sometimes as early as conceptual design.
  • The owner can take advantage of special services such as:
    • Feasibility studies
    • Value engineering
    • Life cycle costs
    • Identification of long-lead items and their pre-purchase
  • Significant time can be saved because the design effort is emphasized and completed earlier in the process, and because construction can begin before the design is fully complete.
  • Architectural and engineering fees can be reduced by the early involvement of the specialty contractors.
  • Construction costs are minimized by incorporating constructability reviews into the process, and by the designers incorporating materials, methods, and systems that the team knows are more cost effective.
  • Operating costs can be reduced by providing opportunities to greatly affect long-term energy and resource use through design.
  • Capital costs can be reduced, thanks to clearer and better coordinated construction documents, which should minimize the incidence of change orders that impact both cost and time.
  • Misunderstanding between the parties is minimized when the IPD Team works together during the planning stages of the project.
  • The owner’s risk is minimized as the IPD Team approach tends to focus on early identification of potential conflicts and issues through the utilization of modeling tools. This early identification results in timely problem solving and resolution of issues through the use of models, as opposed to problem solving in the field and constructed environments.


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

Gift Ideas from ILMA


Frans Johansson: “Act & Collaborate to Drive Change”

Frans Johansson is an innovation expert and author of The Medici Effect. As CEO of The Medici Group, he leads a team which helps clients improve their innovation efforts through an approach they call Intersectional Thinking.

In the following video Frans Johansson illustrates how relentless trial-and-error – coming up with an idea, executing it on a small scale, and then refining it – is THE distinguishing characteristic of the greatest artists, scientists, and entrepreneurs. Why? Because humans are not very good at predicting which ideas are going to be a success. Thus, nearly every major breakthrough innovation has been preceded by a string of failed or misguided executions. So, as Frans says quoting Churchill, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

The idea for the book “The Medici Effect” is based on intersection.  The best way to come up with groundbreaking ideas is to combine very different ideas – like termites and architecture; ice and beds; and bikinis and burqas.  Diversity drives innovation.

What Drives Innovation?

We innovate best when we connect with others and share new ideas/perspectives. The key is to connect across our differences.

Technology increasingly drives new operational and business models.

He created a magazine “Catalyst” to bring stuff together, started a software company that “went really well until it didn’t.”.

He investigates how intersections lead to innovations.

We have the best chance to innovate when we connect across our differences.

Innovation is important because the world is changing very quickly.

Example:  Spanish fashion company Zara can go from design to selling a dress across the world in 7 days.

A more sobering example; only 68% of recent law school graduates are working in a job that requires a J.D.

Yet our ability to innovate constricts as our firms get larger.  Innovation tends to come from newcomers, upstarts.

One reason is that we tend to use logic as the only guidance for reaching success.  For instance, Audi and Volvo might both to decide to address their minor deficiencies, then end up with cars that look quite similar.

Why is it Necessary to Innovate Quickly?

If you want to keep your competitive advantage, you have to keep innovating because there has been a stunning drop in the amount of time it takes for your competitors to catch up with you.

Why is it so Hard to Innovate?

Because change is difficult and intimidating, we tend to settle for tweaking things around the edges rather than making a comprehensive change. The impact of this is adding more widgets to a Yahoo search engine until the clutter is overcome by the spare and elegant design of a Google search engine.

New Ideas Are Combinations of Other

Johansson proposes that all new ideas are combinations of existing ideas.  But not all combinations of ideas are created equal.

Working Understanding

Most truly stunning innovations result from combination two different ideas. The greater the number of ideas that you generate and implement, the greater your chance of a breakthrough. You need to try many things because humans are very bad at predicting what will work. The key is to keep trying until you perfect your execution. When your first idea doesn’t work, you have to try again. Diverse teams can unleash an explosion of new ideas. You end up with an exponential increase in new ideas that leads to more opportunities for innovation.

Create the Environment Necessary to Foster Innovation

We can help organize our firms to foster innovation. This ranges from seating people within your department in such a way that they can’t help be exposed to new ideas and new ways of working. Individually, you also can ensure that you personally make connections with people within the firm who are in different disciplines or from different backgrounds or have different interests.

Don’t Give Up! Innovators Fail More Often

We are horrible at predicting what will work. We don’t often hear the tales of the bad ideas only the heroic ending of how someone became successful with their one brilliant idea and how they were able to envision a new future and make that future a reality.

What is the Most Effective Way to Execute?

Directional ideas often are executed in step-by-step fashion.  More innovative ideas can take longer and get developed less directly.

We use up energy, money, and reputation in getting to a goal. So start by taking the first step; an easy manageable step.

Start with a good idea. And then act on it. Johansson calls this the “smallest executable step.” It’s not about going directly to the desired Big Hairy Audacious Goal. Rather, execute the first step; adjust based on results; execute again. The key is to iterate your way to success.

Some examples provided by Johansson:

ANTS & TRUCK DRIVERS

The example of ants and truck drivers, which I talk about in one of the chapters. So there is this telecommunications engineer that has been is trying to figure out how to efficiently route telecom messages through a haphazard routing system. And one day the communications engineer met an ecologist, who studies social insects, like wasps and ants. And they started talking, and the ecologist described how ants search for food. As it turned out, the ant’s search strategy turned out to be very applicable to the routing of telecom message packets. Once the engineer realized this, he decided to explore this particular intersection between ant ecology and computer search algorithms, so he spent three years looking at the connection between the way social insects behave and the way you can use computers to optimize particular types of search algorithms. And that has now lead to an entirely new field called swarm intelligence, which essentially came out of the intersection of the study of social insects and computer search algorithms. This methodology has been used in everything from helping truck drivers find their way around the Swiss Alps to helping unmanned aerial vehicles search for terrorists in Afghanistan.

TERMITES & ARCHITECTURE

A man was commissioned to build the largest office building complex in Harare, Zimbabwe without air conditioning.

He did it by combining the ideas of architecture and termite houses.

Termite houses open and close vents to regulate heat and cold. He combined ideas from these two fields to break new ground and build an energy efficient office complex that was able to maintain a comfortable temperature.

512px-Natural_ventilation_high-rise_buildings.svg.png

BURKINI

At the intersections of different ideas and cultures, the Medici effect happens.

For example, if you wanted to come up with a new, creative idea for swimwear, usually you would combine swimwear with the beach. But what if you combined swimwear with the idea of a burqa?

A lady moved to Australia where the normal female swimwear was bikinis. Many traditional Moslem women go swimming in their burqas. She combined the ideas of bikinis and burqas – and made a burqa out of bikini material.

After the fact, an innovative idea seems somewhat obvious.

People that change the world try far more ideas than others because we are horrible at predicting what ideas will work. Einstein published over 240 papers, many of which not a single person referenced. Google has launched hundreds of products. Picasso painted lots of paintings to figure out what paintings did work.

To be successful, you have to take this notion into account – that you won’t always be successful.

WIKIPEDIA

Take Wikipedia, for example. We may have thought – is that even possible? Creating Wikipedia takes understanding the altruistic nature of people and understanding the Internet. Before he launched

Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales launched Newspedia and asked experts to contribute to it. After six months, there were only twenty posts. Jimmy’s new idea was to allow anyone to make posts. Wikipedia has been one of the most successful Internet projects. Jimmy Wales kept trying.

How does this play out? Maybe you have an idea. Often from an idea you create a large goal and then you use 100% of your resources (your money and your reputation) to reach it. After all that work and effort, you now realize how you should have done it. You realize what would have been a better goal or a better way to do it.

ICE & BEDS

For example, a guy in northern Sweden saw a future with the cold and snow. He combined the idea of ice with a hotel. He created a hotel made out of ice. Everything is made out of ice – the beds, walls, tables, etc. It is one of Sweden’s largest tourist attractions. He realized he could do something no one else could do. But it didn’t start with The Ice Hotel.

First, he had an idea to “sell” the winter. His first idea was to fly in some ice sculptures from Japan. He had an ice exhibition. It wasn’t successful because the ice melted.

Next, he tried a snow gallery and had paintings hung in an ice building.

Then he created an event hall with everything made out of ice, including a movie screen. A few backpackers who saw it said they would like to sleep on a bed made of ice. He made a bed of ice and they loved it.

Then he created The Ice Hotel. Within weeks Newsweek named it one of the ten coolest hotels in the world.

MGMT 561 Assignment #3 Reflection CUNHA 01.pngSource: Frans Johansson: The Secret Truth About Executing Great Ideas

CONCLUSION

You have to start with an idea – a step.

Take your first step to change the world. The best way to come up with this idea is at the intersection of different cultures and ideas.  Figure out something you can do and make it happen. The world is connected – there is somebody making those connections and it should be YOU!

MGMT 561 Assignment #3 Reflection CUNHA 02.pngSource: Frans Johansson: The Secret Truth About Executing Great Ideas

MGMT 561 Assignment #3 Reflection CUNHA 03.pngSource: The Medici Effect

MGMT 561 Assignment #3 Reflection CUNHA 04.pngSource: The Medici Effect

References & Sources:

Frans Johansson Keynote #ILTA12 David Hobbie

Frans Johansson: The Secret Truth About Executing Great Ideas

Frans Johansson Keynote #ILTA12 VMaryAbraham

How do people get more creative?

An Interview with Frans Johansson: The Medici Effect

Frans Johansson: The Secret Truth About Executing Great Ideas 

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

Gift Ideas from ILMA


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

Gift Ideas from ILMA


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

Mr. Jarmel is an Architect, Real Estate Developer, Renewable Energy Enthusiast, Entrepreneur and Owner of Jarmel Kizel Architects and Engineers Inc.

He received a Bachelors of Architecture from NJIT in 1990 and an MBA from Rutgers University in 1994. He can be found online at the following social media sites: LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

About the Firm

Since the firm’s founding in 1975, Jarmel Kizel has worked its way from the inside out; originally concentrating on the interior design of corporate offices and since has grown into a full-service Architectural, Engineering, and Interior Design firm that provides a single point of accountability for all aspects of design services. The firm’s size and abilities enable it to handle a broad spectrum of projects while allowing the principals to put their seal on every one. With in-house Civil, Structural, Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing and Fire Protection Engineering, clients can look to Jarmel Kizel to have all aspects of their projects designed and managed by one firm.

Today the firm provides a unique service platform that provides a single point of accountability for architectural and engineering services formatted to assist clients with managing their project’s design needs from site design and land entitlements to building design through construction oversight.

ILMA INTERVIEW

When and why did you decide to become an Architect?     

I knew when I was in Junior High School that I wanted to become an architect.  I grew up in the industry in that my father is a commercial interior designer, he actually founded our firm in 1975, and I was exposed to design and construction at a very early age.  My dad totally remodeled our home and he had my brother Richard, who is a civil engineer and partner in our firm, and myself helping and working with tools. 

What were some of the challenges of achieving your dream?  

The architectural and engineering industry can be very rewarding.  There is tremendous emotional fulfillment to see your ideas first take shape on paper and then through construction.  I take great pride driving by a building our firm has designed and saying we did that.  Despite the rewards the business of architecture can be very difficult.  Our industry is first hit by a recession, hardest hit and usually the last to recover.   One of the greatest challenges of working in the profession is learning how to batten down the hatches and weather the economic storms when they come. 

Any memorable clients or project highlights?  

I have many projects I am proud of many clients that I respect and that have become good friends and even partners over the years.  Some of the more notable projects I have worked on include designing the Bear Stearns Campus in Whippany, NJ.  This project was developed over years and ultimately included approximately 700,000 sf of office and data center space in five buildings, two of which we designed and the rest we designed major renovations to.  Unfortunately Bear Stearns does not exist anymore but the campus is still there.  We also were fortunate to design the first major redevelopment project in Plainfield, NJ where we designed four buildings for the Union County Improvement Authority that included a 100,000 sf office building, two retail buildings totaling 40,000 sf and a parking structure.   This project acted as a catalyst for new development in the city.   Over the last several years the firm has been very active in NYC designing many mixed use large scale projects, we have a 17 story building under construction in Queens right now.   One of my most memorable clients is The Learning Experience.   The Learning Experience is a national and soon to be international brand of child development centers.  We designed their first center 16 years ago and have since completed over 200 projects throughout the country for them.  Because of the volume of projects we have completed for them, about 70 in NJ alone, I gained tremendous experience in land entitlements and have become an expert in land entitlement strategy.

How does your family support what you do?    

The creative process can be very time consuming, running a business and being creative magnifies the time required to be an architect.  Some days I leave the house at 7 and if I have a hearing don’t get home until midnight.   Other times I am hopping on an airplane and away overnight.   My family is supportive in that they understand the taxing requirements of the job.   With that said everything I do is for my family.  So I make sure my wife and children get the attention they need from me and we plan as much quality time as possible.

How do Architects measure success?     

Some might say you measure the success of an architect by the quality and aesthetic of the buildings he or she designs, or by how much wealth and fame they have obtained.  To me a successful architect you have to be a strong leader, a strong communicator and be able to balance the aesthetic and technical issues of a building’s design all while understanding the functional and economical goals of your client.  The architect that can achieve this can become successful.  Ultimately success is measured by obtaining the respect of your peers, clients and even contractors in the industry.  

What matters most to you in design?      

Achieving my clients goals of function and budget while creating a building that is safe and attractive.   

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

Our firm has developed strong skills in real estate development which include land entitlements and real estate economics.   Many times we set the strategy for how to present a project to planning and zoning boards, explain the process to our clients and even their attorneys, advise on PILOT and other incentives, building valuation and assist in making introduction to equity investors and lenders.   These skills make us stand out from our competitors but not necessarily obtain higher fees.  Our goal for the next 2 to 5 years is to expand our Real Estate Advisory services to create additional revenue as a “Fee Developer” and on our own development account.

Who is your favorite Architect? Why?     

I respect the design styles of many current and historic architects.  I am a big fan of the Chicago School and of those architects Louis Sullivan is probably my favorite.  I like this style for the buildings of the time were the first commercial buildings and first to break away from using ancient detailing by employing and emphasizing technology in design.

Do you have a coach or mentor?

I do not have a specific coach or mentor but I like to bounce ideas off of my team, clients and friends.  

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

My favorite historic building is the Roman Pantheon.  It was built around 113 AD and has the largest unreinforced concrete dome ever made which has a giant hole in the center that allows the sun and the moon to shine in along with the rain.  It still stands 2000 years later.  The Romans were great builders, they invented concrete, experimented with reinforcing concrete with brass chains and even developed zoning rules and regulations.   As far as contemporary buildings there are so many that I love.   I lean towards high rise sky scrapers

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

Although new technologies are implemented in the profession and we go through these stages where we preach design build vs a separation between design and construction professionals the industry has not changed much in my career.  I find it interesting that Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead” which was written in the 40’s and takes place in the 20’s and uses the architectural industry as a back story to promoting her political views speaks to many of the same type of players and issues in the industry today.  There are developers, contractors, politicians and architects.  There are residential, public and commercial buildings and she even tackles issues such as affordable housing.  All the same issues we deal with today.   I do not see major changes in the business of the profession.  Although I do see major technical influences which will affect the way we design and build buildings.  There is a robot that lays brick now.  I think as the world gets smaller through technology building codes and licensing laws will become more standardized.

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

The use of BIM is becoming the most prevalent tool used in the design of buildings.  It allows architects and engineers to work in 3 dimensions, quickly and efficiently to improve coordination and actually see the building take shape on the screen.  Despite my comment about the brick laying robot above most construction is still done with heavy machinery and by hand.  However, technology has taken over the management of projects from creating schedules, to tracking financing and creating a database of information.  

Who / what has been your greatest influence in design?      

This answer may seem odd to most architects but my great influence in design arrives from an understanding of real estate economics tied to a building’s function and economics.   When a student at NJIT I took an elective in real estate development.  It was taught by a gentleman who ran the development arm of a now defunct savings and loan so we will allow him to remain nameless.  However, he was very influential in that he said he hated architects and found them to be a necessary evil in the process because the law forced them on him to use.  Obviously, this got most of the students in the class upset but I wanted to know why he felt that way.  He thought that architects only cared about what the building looked like and had no understanding or really care for what it might cost to build, what’s its function was to be or how it generated revenue for its owners.  He introduced me to the business side of why clients build in the first place.  This motivated me to go on and obtain an MBA with a concentration in real estate development and urban land use after architectural school.  I feel that the business education in conjunction with my architectural education make me a stronger architect and have been the most influential on my design.

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

I have been fortunate to work on almost any type of commercial project.  I would like to be exposed to more hospitality projects.

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

I hope to mentor the next generation of architects in a way that they can understand the business goals of the client and why they are building so that they can better respond to the client’s needs I also want to mentor them to be strong leaders and great communicators.

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

I would advise them to not only pursue their dream of designing buildings but to learn about the profession as a whole, to learn about the process of becoming an architect and career choices in the industry.  When I was in school no one told me how to become a licensed architect I had to figure it out on my own.

What does Architecture mean to you?     

It is my profession, it is my life!

What is your design process?     

First understand the client’s program goals and budget, then study the site and zoning constraints, roll up my sleeves and dive in.

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

A civil engineer and or real estate developer.

What is your dream project?     

A really tall building in a major city that becomes a landmark for years to come.  If I can be a partner in its ownership even better.

What advice do you have for a future Executive leader?     

Respect and care about the people you are leading, be kind but stern.

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

All challenges revolve around people.  First finding qualified people, there is a tremendous shortage of qualified architects and engineers, second finding people that can see the big picture first before the crawl into the details and finally finding people that can communicate effectively.   As far as trends see my answer to where I see the industry going above

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

I am optimistic that we are at the beginning of a sustainable economic growth period.  This will provide many of us with significant projects to choose from and an even more challenging labor shortage.  An executive leader will need to be able to recruit talent and keep them motivated to stay.

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 do not know if I am any smarter today at 50 then I was when I got out of school in my early 20’s what I have gained is life experience.  The most important lesson is that people will surprise you. Some will impress you, some will disappoint you, some will be loyal and others not.  I have seen some crazy things happen some good and some bad.   Just when I think I have seen everything someone surprises me. 

Final Thoughts on How to Be Successful?      

Learn your trade, be good at and then learn to be a good communication and leader and business person.

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

Gift Ideas from ILMA


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

Who is Daniel D’Agostino, AIA?

Dan D’Agostino is an architect with over 15 years of experience as an architectural designer and project manager.  

Mr. D’Agostino has extensive experience working on projects of varying scales.  His portfolio of work ranges from new and renovations to single-family dwellings  to high-rise mixed-use buildings in dense urban areas.  Mr. D’Agostino’s work has been recognized for achievement on multiple levels.  Winning an AIA Gold Medal for a mixed-use structure designed for Lower Manhattan, recurring appearances on NBC’s George to the Rescue and achieving the coveted “Best Of” award on Houzz.

Daniel received his Bachelor of Architecture Degree from the New Jersey School of Architecture at NJIT where he continues to serve as a visiting critic.  He is a member of the American Institute of Architects, the Little Falls Planning and Zoning Board and Little Falls Economic Development Committee.  He is a licensed Architect practicing in Northern New Jersey.  In his free time he enjoys being the best father and husband he can be, golfing and playing music.

About Daniel’s firm:

planarchitecturellc is a full-service design firm which specializes in producing innovative client-driven program-based architectural design and budget appropriate problem solving. 

Founded by Daniel D’Agostino, AIA, planarchitecture’s mission is to arrive at client and site specific architectural solutions to unique client demands.  The firm produces work for public, commercial and residential clients. 

You can find Daniel Online by clicking on the following links:

ILMA INTERVIEW

When and why did you decide to become an Architect?     

I found drawing to be a great pastime as a kid.  I also enjoyed building with my father.  Inspired by curiosity, I always wanted to find ways to make things better.  Design happens to be a way of making things better.  Architecture seemed like a natural fit for me. 

What were some of the challenges of achieving your dream?     

Becoming an architect in general is a challenging process.  While I’m patient with people, I’m not always so patient when it comes to progress.  I like to see things getting done, movement and motion.  Five years of schooling, 3 years of internship, 7 months of licensing, in the middle of a recession was challenging.

Any memorable clients or project highlights?  

Each project has a stand out moment.  The best moments occur when we are a part of the building process and able to walk a project with a client and discuss additional opportunities.   

How does your family support what you do?   

I am lucky to have a very supportive family.  Architecture is a big part of our lives.  We just had the amazing opportunity to design and build our own home so design is very much a part of our daily conversation.  Prior to that, we would travel to see buildings, stop on a walk to discuss a building material.  Dining experiences are typically accompanied by a short analysis of how things might have been better.

How do Architects measure success?     

I think Architects are an odd bunch if I may say so myself.   As such, it’s hard to generalize.  For me, if I’m happy – I am successful.  Some of the things that make me happy related to the profession are having the time to do something creative or inventive.  Having a staff meeting where everything gels.  Client meetings that end in laughter, hugs and an optimistic plan for advancing a project.  Discussion with a contractor where we walk away saying – this is going to be amazing!

What matters most to you in design?      

Function, daylight and views.  Each of our projects start and end with how the plan works, how we experience daylight and what we see both internally and externally along a view corridor.

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

I enjoy single family design and construction.  Over the last two or three years, we have designed a number of medium density residential developments.  I discovered that we were able to bring a neat little twist to this market that isn’t commonly found in these developments.  Our attention to detail and space making is needed in these larger projects.  I hope that in 5 years, we are doing a lot more of this.   

Who is your favorite Architect? Why?     

It’s a toss up – Frank Lloyd Wright or Louis Kahn

As an architect, saying you like FLW is like saying you like the Beatles.  I mean, the Beatles are mainstream, have a ton of hits, and reinvented themselves multiple times over the years.  FLW did the same thing.  His work is accessible and always delivers.  If you dig deep and learn about why his buildings look the way they do (sustainability, economics, desire to build cheaply, wartime rationing, etc.) they are amazing.  

Louis Kahn, on the other hand, not so mainstream and certainly not so accessible.  His buildings manage to be incredibly complex yet simple.  Having traveled the world looking at architecture, the Salk Institute was my greatest experience.  When you walk that plaza, it’s an actual experience.    

Do you have a coach or mentor?     

Not really.  I’m a pretty good listener and observer.  If you keep your antennas up, you are going to learn a lot.

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

The Pantheon in Rome is my favorite historic work.  It is structurally significant.  The sun is used as a light fixture in the building charting messages.  It’s all encompassing.  The Salk Institute is my favorite contemporary project due to its connection to site.  A strong axis of symmetry and orientation with the horizon.  It’s breathtaking.

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

I see the profession going more toward design-build.  There’s a lot of waste in the profession.  It’s impossible to get every single detail included in a set of plans if you are trying to adhere to an architectural budget and short timeline.  In New Jersey, the cost of land and taxes are so high, there is hardly ever an opportunity to draw every single detail and review it with your client.  The industry has therefore come to accept (through demanding) a set of plans for base building, and finer elements being decided by the builder.  As this process has evolved, we have come to see many features lost because original design intent isn’t considered.  It will also help to minimize the number of projects that come in “over budget”.

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

I think modular still has a chance.  When I was leaving college, modular was the new thing because it was faster and cheaper.  Over time, it turned out, modular wasn’t exactly faster, or cheaper.  We should pay attention to modular building with an emphasis on trying to work aesthetic into it.

Who / what has been your greatest influence in design?      

Walt Disney.  We need to make sure our buildings work functionally but we also want to be entertained while being part of an experience.  Disney was great at this.

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

I’d like to do a New York City high rise on the West Side.  Growing up in Hudson County, New Jersey, the New York skyline was a big part of my childhood.  I drive down a street and see projects I designed going up or completed and you feel a sense of pride and permanence.  I’d like to have that feeling looking at the skyline.

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

Our office consists of 10 people, 9 of which are designers.  I constantly put forward that our job is to help our clients and serve them.  Listen to them and find the best way to deliver that which they are requesting.

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

I started working as a Sophomore in High School at an architecture firm.  I would recommend it.  It gives you an opportunity through college to understand “how” you might use what you are learning.  I would recommend college students get involved in outreach.  Get involved in your local community and start planting seeds for future networking opportunities.  Can you join the planning board? Is there a historical society you can join? 

For Graduates, it’s going to sound funny but go work at a restaurant as a server.  You are going to learn how to interact with people, understand how a person asks for something they need either verbally or with body language.  You’ll learn how people feel comfortable by studying where they ask to sit, the way they face, how they talk to one another.  You’ll learn about working in a tight space in the Kitchen and the importance of efficiency and flow. 

I was lucky – I learned how to speak Spanish working a restaurant while working with the Kitchen staff.  This has proven to be invaluable as the two predominate languages spoken on a job site are Spanish and English.  I am able to converse in both languages.  While sad, it’s worth noting that when I graduated from college, I made more money as a weekend waiter than I did as a full time draftsman.  It helps to have money.

What does Architecture mean to you?     

Simple, a place to be comfortably protected from natural elements.

What is your design process?     

My design process starts with the site.  From there, I sit with my clients and I start designing with them.  I’m not the type that comes to my single family residential clients with plans for how they should live.  With my larger development work, we analyze the site to maximize efficiency and density.

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

I couldn’t imagine myself being anything else.

What is your dream project?     

I’d love to work on a stage set.  Loose some of the parameters of gravity, building code, weather resistance to create an environment.

What advice do you have for a future Executive leader?     

Surround yourself with great people in all aspects of your life and consistently invest in yourself.

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

As a business leader, I find staffing challenging because we are a service industry – not just design and construction so personnel is the most important.  You can get anyone that meet’s your qualifications.  You can also get anyone with a good personality.  Getting them both isn’t always the easiest.  When you do you, do everything you can to keep them.  Balancing the administrative elements of the business while maintaining your service qualities is a challenge.  I was only able to find success here after hiring administrative personnel.  When I started the business five years ago at 29, fresh out of a recession, no portfolio of work and competing against other architects more than double my age was a challenge.  We’ve now developed an impressive resume to support my interview process, however being the “young” architect seems to rear its head.  I try to convince people, it’s not the number of years you’ve been doing it, rather the number of years you’ve been doing it right.  The trend now is the integration of internet design.

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

Develop patience and resilience which has no regard for timeline.  Patience, as I stated earlier, wasn’t one of my virtues.  Everything takes time.  Resilience is important because the highs are way up there and the lows – we don’t talk about them.

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?     

As the world of business continues to morph, our industry has stayed the same in principal.  We have to be flexible in how we deliver information.  A BIM model isn’t always the answer, sometimes a sketch to be texted out in 20 minutes is more important.  We also have to remember, architecture is a business.  The more successful firms know this.

Final Thoughts on How to Be Successful?           

Surround yourself with great people.  It starts with family and follows through staff, clients, contractors.  Work as hard as possible.  While it’s important to get your sleep and rest, you still have to write that extra email or do that extra sketch.  Go that extra mile, especially when it may not be needed or no one may be watching.

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

Gift Ideas from ILMA


Our Exclusive ILMA Interview with Tim Witzig of @PKSBArchitects

This week we have a great interview with Tim Witzig.  I had the pleasure of meeting Tim this year and we had a lengthy conversation.  I think you will be impressed with his take on the world of architecture and design.

About Tim Witzig

Tim Witzig, AIA, Principal at PKSB Architects, is known for his breadth of understanding.  He has played an instrumental role in the success of PKSB for almost two decades.

Mr. Witzig has overseen teams for numerous projects. His experience includes, public and private schools, religious spaces, residential interiors, personalized homes, commercial interiors and a history of projects with civic importance. He served as a designer and Project Manager for the interior renovations of the AIA award-winning Franklin, Mansfield and Shoreham Hotels in New York City.

He was responsible for directing fabrication for guest area upgrades, interior elements and furnishings for all three hotels. Mr. Witzig has also participated in the design and construction administration of the Physics Building Addition and Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology Research Building at the University of Virginia, refurbishments for the Joseph E. Seagram Company in New York, and customized hotel resort interiors for the Walt Disney World Company. Prior to joining PKSB in 1990, Mr. Witzig was a designer at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill with a team developing the first designs for Worldwide Plaza at Columbus Circle. His participation in designing and managing projects with various scales, local code requirements, and unique technical requirements has brought Mr. Witzig a broad understanding of the challenges our client’s face in realizing a project.

About the Firm

PKSB Architects was established in 1964 by Giovanni Pasanella. Celebrating over 50 years in practice, PKSB is recognized as an award-winning full-service firm with a long history of completing projects of every scale and scope. Our practice areas include academic, preservation, institutional, residential, hospitality, public housing, infrastructure, public art, civic memorials, and houses of worship. PKSB’s efforts have been recognized with numerous design awards, including the prestigious P/A Award and AIA honors on the local, state and national levels.

While PKSB’s practice has evolved since its first years as Pasanella + Klein Stolzman + Berg, a commitment to architecture that blends artistry, craft, and pragmatism has always defined its work. The firm has a modernist foundation, but does not rely on a set “PKSB style.” Rather, the needs of the client come first, and PKSB’s strength lies in its ability to create solutions that respond to the unique aspects of each client, program, and location.

“Since its founding in 1964, PKSB has distinguished itself as an innovative practice whose projects combine artistry, craft and pragmatism. A spirit of collaboration and a willingness to explore have been the hallmarks of the firm since its inception.”

When and why did you decide to become an Architect?     

High School age. Seemed to encompass all my interests when I listed them. Before those years I wanted to be a Disney Imagineer.

What were some of the challenges of achieving your dream?  

Math. Undergraduate math, calculus, trig were such failures. Cost of school, lived in a marginal neighborhood in St. Louis to keep my living costs low for a couple of undergraduate years. During grad school working during breaks, working in the library for a little cash in my pocket when I should have been in studio probably. The library that I worked in up at Columbia was the library devoted to library sciences…only… could not have been more boring.

Any memorable clients or project highlights?    

Bess Myerson, Miss America 1945. She made me laugh… not right away. You got the joke on the way home in the re-telling. She wanted a beautiful new modern sculptural stair in her NY apartment renovation. I did not get to design the stair but I watched the process and helped do the drawings for the shell of the apartment. I learned a lot working with her, and helping make presentations and seeing how all talented  people involved worked.

How does your family support what you do?   

They listen to my ranting. Patiently.

How do Architects measure success?  

I think, gladly, that measure is made on very large field. I think if one helps, no matter how small, to make a piece of the world a more beautiful or usable place with our buildings, cities, infrastructure… one is a success. If you enjoy it as well? Huge success.

What matters most to you in design? 

Constructability, utility, timelessness, passing on inspiration to the users in some way.

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

Focus and allow others to run with the balls.

Who is your favorite Architect? Why? 

I do not really have a favorite, but if pressed on just the Architect part and not the human being part, then Frank Lloyd Wright. He achieved a very warm and approachable transcendence with his own style. If you look up Architect in the dictionary, it would not be wrong to see his picture there I think.

Do you have a coach or mentor? 

A few. The founders of the Architecture firm I am a part of now, Henry Stolzman, and Wayne Berg would go day-by-day explaining the practice and business of Architecture. My current business partner Sherida Paulsen brings reality to my day dreams. Going way back to school days there was William B. Bricken and Leslie Laskey. The latter should me how you could live like a designer and get interested in everything.

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

That’s so hard there are so many on both ends. Villa Malaparte in Capri. and almost anything Louis Kahn did, Yale British Art, currently I keep looking at Tod Williams and Billie Tsien and their Kim & Tritton Residence Hall. Over and over I stare at that simple building. 2 story residential dorm building with no stairs or elevators inside. Genius.

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

I think it’s very exciting, and I think Architects or folks who know a thing or two about making buildings will be in high demand. I think the firms will get larger and folks within the firms will be specialized a bit more. I think Architecture as a defined terms will blur and blend into other things we use.

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

The 3D modeling and Building Information Modeling and ability to bring that up zoom in to look at all of the “guts” anytime and anywhere,, well it is already happening now and it should just get better and more fun. I would like to see a dose of A.I. in some of the mundane and complex tasks we do, like crosschecking current rules, zoning, codes, that come into play. I would like a computer programmer take a crack at developing a “ArchAI” program that will compile a basic building envelope and create a set of drawings just off say 10 basic inputs or dimensions you give it.

Who / what has been your greatest influence in design? 

Failure.

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

I would love to work on a large community center or cultural icon like the 92Y (92nd Street Y)

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

You sit with them see what they are doing and ask questions? If there is something good there, progress or talent in a particular direction you help develop that and point them to something that they might find helpful or interesting based on the direction they are already heading in. You might point them in a direction where they might get un-stuck (if they share their sticking point). Then they come back and ask again.  Then the mentoring kind of begins.

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

Just keep swimming. Do not be afraid to ask questions. Do not be afraid to fail.

What does Architecture mean to you? 

Every time I get mad at it and curse it for being hard, or impossible it comes back, I see a beautiful building and I just think it’s great and there are so many talented people to watch and buildings to visit. I guess it’s just ingrained in there and I hope I can enjoy it as long as possible.

What is your design process? 

That is a hard question. It really depends. But Testing and Tossing is such a big part. I used to say do not draw more in the first half of the day that you cannot erase in the second half. Of course we don’t have to spend time erasing anymore, so we have more time for flipping stuff on its head and seeing what can be gained. One tries to list, develop or articulate the restraints, constraints and guiderails first so you can get to the design phase. Then the Testing and Tossing begins. I still believe in the old fashioned pin-up in a room and let the criticism flow.

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

The animation thing I guess. It’s never too late to go to Hollywood. Yes it is I think.

What is your dream project?  

The Museum of the Tour de France. It must have views and a fantastic café. And banks of Zwifting set-up’s with a huge High Def screens floating in front of real glazed views.

What advice do you have for a future Executive leader? 

Help others succeed and then encourage and praise, daily if you can. Sit right across or next to someone at their desk for bit, avoid constant big meetings. Smaller ones. You do the leg work the big meeting might have made easier.

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

Technology costs, Marketing. Managing cash flow. I see a trend in larger firms as an umbrella with smaller brands below     

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

Listen, stay positive, learn how people do what they do.

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?  

Younger people are very creative in the way they work and use software. I think it’s important to “give in” and “give up” the ways one might have done something in the past. Even if those ways worked well before. Be willing to re-prioritize what you thought was important in how projects are realized and mananged.

Final Thoughts on How to Be Successful?   

Keep a sense of humor, laugh and value irony along the way. Take some time to enjoy the journey and not just the finish line. Realize everyone one else is trying to do the same thing, and help whenever you can. Each client is a chance to learn something new.

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

Gift Ideas from ILMA


Our Exclusive ILMA Interview with Toon Dreessen @ArchitectsDCA

Click on the image above or click here to listen to our interview with Toon Dreessen.

Click on the following links to learn more about Toon Dreessen and DCArchitects:

For more exclusive ILMA interviews please click here (written interviews) or click here (audio interviews).

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

Gift Ideas from ILMA


Our Exclusive ILMA Interview with Felicia Middleton @UrbanAesthetics

Felicia Middleton is an Architecture Design Professional, an Author, an EPA Certified Renovator and an Entrepreneur. She is the principal of Urban Aesthetics, LLC serving the Philadelphia metropolitan area.  She specializes in Residential and Commercial Architecture and Interior Design – both Renovations and New Construction – as well as Commercial and Residential Kitchens and Baths, Quality Assurance, Interior Material Specifications, Interior Commercial Design including Restaurants and Bars, Salons and Spas, Education and Church Facilities and Corporate Design and Retail Planning. She also provides Construction Administration and Construction Management services.

She can be found on social media by following these links: Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and on LinkedIn.

ILMA INTERVIEW

When and why did you decide to become an Architect?

At the young age of 15, while attending the Carver H.S. of Engineering and Science I took a drafting class and decided what I wanted to do as a career. I told a drafting teacher that I wanted to draw on computers. We had a drafting teacher who was very encouraging, named Mr. Avant. The students loved him so much because he would let us eat lunch with him in his drafting class and he had a genuine interest in each one of us. Sadly, he passed last year. I always wanted to thank him for his help and encouragement.

What were some of the challenges of achieving your dream?

College financing often was a challenge for me. My family had difficulties and paying for college became a struggle. I had to work many jobs while in college but I realize now that those jobs helped lay the framework for my future. Thank God for making it possible for me to overcome so many obstacles and pursue and achieve my dream.

Any memorable clients or project highlights?

Earlier in my career, I designed a Commissary Kitchen Warehouse and several cafeterias for the Vineland School District in Vineland, NJ. I learned so much from that project. I learned a lot about the operations of school food facilities. That learning process really reinforced how important the use of a building is in design and planning.

During that same time, I worked on many well-known food facility projects in casinos throughout the country. I found a design niche that I grew to love and still love over a decade later.

How does your family support what you do?

My immediate family supports me 100%. Especially my mother. She has been my biggest fan. My friends and family will often pass my name to others who may need my services. In addition, they support events and projects sponsored by my company, especially the community projects.

How do Architects measure success?

Many architects measure success via projects and achievements and the impact that they have on others. I would also add that success is measured by the way we are able to make a difference in our communities.

What matters most to you in design?

Safety, is extremely important to me, also function and aesthetics. Buildings are where we spend the majority of our time so they should be safe spaces that add to our well-being.

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!

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

Over the next two years I will focus on managing Urban Aesthetics projects while developing my own individual brand. Within 5 years I will have my brand developed in Food Facility Design and operate separately from Urban Aesthetics.

Who is your favorite Architect? Why?

I feel in our profession mentoring and inspiring is very important. Your life, work and values should inspire your followers. My favorite historical architect, Daniel Burnham’s life story is inspiring, his buildings are beautiful and he has written very inspiring quotes. I have used his quote as a motto for my business.

“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, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency…”

My favorite current architects are my colleagues.

Do you have a coach or mentor?

I have a Business Coach but unfortunately, I do not currently have a mentor. I have been blessed with many mentors throughout my life and career and I have mentored many.

Mentoring relationships are not permanent. They end or change as we grow. I have desired to find a mentor for a couple of years but I have not been able to create the relationship.

The architect that I share an office with is probably the closest person to a mentor that I currently have. He is a senior on the architecture profession and he offers advice and gives advice when I ask. I have a great deal of respect for him.

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

My favorite historic project is the Colosseum. The Colosseum is a grand structure located in Rome, Italy. It is beautiful and strong, representing the games that were performed for spectators. Amazingly, it has stood robust and tall for almost 2000 years.

My favorite modern building has changed a many ties over the last 20 years, as innovation, design and the environment surrounding me changes. Most recently, the Cira Center, in Philadelphia, has been a favorite. I love it because it stands a jewel above the surrounding buildings and it represented the expansion of our downtown to the other side of the Schuylkill River. An added bonus is that the building is green, LEED Certified.

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

For a while, it seemed as if there was a decline in the profession but I have noticed a recent resurgence. I do believe there needs to be some liberation in the process involved in becoming an architect and function within the profession. I see the profession opening up to multiple careers, interchanging with architecture.

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

Virtual 3d Modeling is a form of technology that I have seen most recently. Virtual reality in design will help us communicate designs to clients who have difficulty understanding plans. In addition, advances in project management software helps to streamline the planning and construction processes.

Who / what has been your greatest influence in design?

The Green Movement has been my greatest influence in design. I became serious about environmental issues while in college and there I decided that it would have a big impact on my work. I worked for an environmental organization for a couple of years while in college and I learned so much. I added a few environment-centered courses while in college and

my senior internship included researching Brownfield’s Redevelopment. When I first entered the design world, eco-friendly design was not a large part of what we did. I was a bit discouraged at first but was reenergized in the early 2000’s when the green movement really started taking shape.

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

A LEED project. My current burning desire is to participate on a LEED project.

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

I will to continue mentoring our young people by explaining to them as many aspects of our work as I can, to help the understand all that is included and let them see that this profession has so much to offer, depending on what direction you wish to go. I will let them see that when you fall in love with your work, it can be very fulfilling. I hope to let them see that you can make a difference in your community and also the world while working in this field but you MUST find your way.

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

Fall in love love with architecture and the profession if you want to succeed and endure the work. You will have to put your time in while working but be sure to learn more than what is expected.

What does Architecture mean to you?

Architecture is art in the form of function and use. We create structures that affect people physically and emotionally. We discover solutions to problems both spatially and creatively. I learned at a young age that I liked seeing how things come together. In architecture, part of your work is to develop the way a building comes together. At times we have to take a building apart to bring the desired project together.

What is your design process?

I follow a basic process:

  • Determining the client’s Gain an understanding of their situation (financial, time constraints and any limitations)
  • Preliminary Research – Code, Zoning, Needs of Use, Property,
  • Pre-Design – Discuss research findings, create
  • Design Development – Develop the concept into a more workable Additional research.
  • Coordinate with project team.
  • Complete

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

If I could not work in this great profession, I would be a writer. I guess I already am a writer. I have always excelled at writing. Writing is my second love, next to architecture. I have published 2 books, written for magazines and published several blogs. I absolutely love to write.

What is your dream project?

I have a strange desire to design a high-end Starbucks, similar to the project in progress in Chicago.

What advice do you have for a future Executive leader?

Take time to let things develop. Relish in the importance of being guided by others, mentors who can help you and your interests. You must share in your success, look to give to your fellow business colleagues. Develop a relationship with fellow business owners and remember that collaboration produces multiple wins. Work with partnerships, strategically develop partners with whom you can develop lasting business relationships.

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

Maintaining Momentum is a challenge that requires constant thought and planning. Moving to the next level while continuing a current pace is very important for success.

Keeping the needs of our community in focus while maintaining momentum is important and also challenging.

One trend I have seen in my industry, especially locally is the explosion of development within the inner city. It is similar to the Mc-Mansion boom we saw years ago.

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

Remain relevant to society, business and your community. Offer a unique service that keeps the client as a focus.

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 learned that business is difficult and you have to extract emotion from the process or it will wear you out. I work in a creative profession but often the bottom line drives my work. I’ve read about and followed the lives of innovative leaders in business to inspire me, geniuses such as Steve Jobs. Although they are one-in-a million I you can be one, I can make a difference. I strive to learn as much as you can from these leaders, both good and bad and use their tools in my work.

Shark Tank may be entertaining but you can learn a lot watching that show. Learn where you can. Never stop educating yourself. Follow the rules.

A surprise I have encountered is the number of opportunities that are available for current and future business owners.

Final Thoughts on How to Be Successful?

Read as much as you can. Keep learning. Be honest, thankful and give back as much as possible. Follow the rules. To me, true success, being able to use the resources that you’ve been blessed with to bless someone else. Whether it is with your money, labor, knowledge, time, mentoring, etc.

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

Christmas Gift Ideas from ILMA


Our Exclusive ILMA Interview with Enoch Sears @BusinessofArch

Enoch Sears is a licensed California architect, and author of the book Social Media for Architects. After struggling to find good business information for small firm architects online, Enoch started the Business of Architecture platform – an online community which has helped hundreds of architects earn a better income and time freedom through good business skills.

He is also the creator and host of the #1 interview podcast for architects, the Business of Architecture Show, where guests like M. Arthur Gensler, founder of Gensler, and Thom Mayne, of Morphosis, share tips and strategies for success in architecture.

You can find out more about about Enoch by visiting his LinkedIn profile or by looking him up on Twitter: @BusinessofArch

 

ILMA INTERVIEW

When and why did you decide to become an Architect? 

I decided to become an Architect my senior year in high school when I realized I loved drawing but actually wanted to earn some money. I mistakenly thought that architects did both.

What were some of the challenges of achieving your dream?  

Getting through architecture school at Cornell University was a challenge. The professors and curriculum were great, but the winters were cold and dark, and I didn’t understand a lot of the theory at the time.

Any memorable clients or project highlights?   

One thing I love about architecture is helping clients achieve their dream. In this way, every project is memorable because I remember the clients we did the work for.

How does your family support what you do?  

They do support what I do! I’ve actually moved out of architecture full time and now I run the Architect Business Institute and Architect Marketing Institute

How do Architects measure success? 

It is different for each person. For me, success is continual growth and contribution.

What matters most to you in design?      

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

I hope to continue to develop Business of Architecture so that every architect is empowered with the business knowledge he or she needs to succeed.

Who is your favorite Architect? Why? 

I love the work of Louis Kahn and Le Corbusier for their use of raw materials and dramatic, honest spaces.

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

My current favorite modern project is the Kimbell Art Museum in Dallas, Texas by Louis Kahn. See my response above about my favorite architect. 

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

Architecture will continue to get more competitive and consolidated – only architects and firms who invest in growing their firms and influence will grow during this time.

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

I hope that through my work on the Business of Architecture, architects can learn to win great projects and make the income of their dreams!

What advice do you have for a future Executive leader? 

The most important advice I can give is to learn how to coach people to their full potential. Give them responsibilities and let them fail (on things that won’t get you sued).

Final Thoughts on How to Be Successful? 

Commit yourself to continual growth and improvement, and the future is yours! Always be learning!

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

Christmas Gift Ideas from ILMA


Exclusive ILMA Interview with Kurt Kalafsky, AIA @KurtKalafsky

Architect Q&A:

When and why did you decide to become an Architect? 

When I was in HS I took some mechanical and architectural drawings classes (yes hand drafting) I really enjoyed it and the teacher encouraged me to pursue it further.

AZTEC Corp

Design and Photo provided by The Aztec Corporation/Aztec Architects LLC

What were some of the challenges of achieving your dream? 

Setting priorities and committing to a future profession is always challenging with all of the potential distractions on a college campus. I was working during all of my breaks and summer recesses and getting a lot of real office experience while attending Syracuse University. Syracuse was a very design focused school with very little thought put toward what we would actually be doing when we got out. After my third year I choose to transfer to NYIT Old Westbury. While still focusing on a high level of design, most of my professors were also practicing architects. I believe this balance of two very different types of education has helped me to become the Architect that I am today.

 Any memorable clients or project highlights? 

Every client and project is memorable it its own way, they are all unique with a different set of problems to solve. Ultimately that’s what an Architect is, a problem solver.

How do you balance design with your family life?

I value my family time very much. I get involved with my kid’s activities not just as a spectator but as a coach or a scout leader. I started coaching youth football while I was still in college and I was parents that just dropped their kids off and others that took a more active role. With very little exception, the kids that excelled were the ones whose parents showed an active interest in what their kids were doing. I learned a great deal about parenting dos and don’ts before I ever had children of my own.

Calatrava New York WTC Station

World Trade Center Transportation Hub by Santiago Calatrava Valls

How does your family support what you do?

They are my #1 fans and supporters. A little over 20 years ago my wife was pregnant with our first child, we just purchased our first home and I come home one day and tell her I want to quit my steady job and start my own firm with some friends. She was behind me one hundred percent and now we just celebrated the 20th Anniversary The Aztec Corporation and Aztec Architects LLC.
 
How do Architects measure success?

I can’t speak for all Architects, but I measure it by going to work every day and enjoying what I do. Constantly learning about the industry, business, how other businesses work, what makes people tick…

What matters most to you in design? 

Solving the clients problems and making their dreams a reality.

What are the challenges you face realizing your vision?

Getting to know who my client is and what their vision is. Understanding where they’ve been and where they what to go.

What do you hope to achieve over the next 20-30 years?

I don’t put any limits on my future, I guess I’m at a point where I enjoy working with younger people in our profession not only teaching them what I’ve learned but also learning from them.

Who is your favorite Architect? Why?

I have eclectic tastes in architecture, from Michelangelo to Frank Lloyd Wright to Bruce Goff to Richard Meier. I really enjoy architecture that brings nature into the design and reacts to the site and its surroundings regardless of who the designer is.

What is your favorite historic and modern project? Why?

I find the classic lines of St. Peter’s Basilica awe inspiring. The detail that went into it is truly amazing. I also love the Library of Congress in Washington DC, easily my favorite building in a city with so much great architecture. I’m also really enjoying watching the progress of Santiago Calatava’s new Transportation Center at the World Trade Center Site.

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

That’s going to be largely up to the next generation of architects to determine. We as a profession face many challenges and if we don’t stay at the forefront of today’s issues political, technology, business…. we will be left behind. We need to continue to show our communities the value that we bring to the table.

St. Peter's Basilica is a Late Renaissance church located within Vatican City designed principally by Donato Bramante, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno and Gian Lorenzo Bernini. It has been described as "holding a unique position in the Christian world"[3] and as "the greatest of all churches of Christendom".

St. Peter’s Basilica is a Late Renaissance church located within Vatican City designed principally by Donato Bramante, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno and Gian Lorenzo Bernini. It has been described as “holding a unique position in the Christian world”[3] and as “the greatest of all churches of Christendom”.

Who / what has been your greatest influence in design?

I believe that we are influenced by the totality of our life’s experiences. I don’t believe there is any one person, project or experience that has been life changing for me. I also think we need to keep an open mind to best serve our future clients.

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

Keep them excited about learning; if we stop learning we will have no value.

What does Architecture mean to you? 

Architecture is both a process and a result. The process of defining the clients’ problem or vision and the process of solving that problem to get the end result that they are looking for.

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

I would probably do something outdoors with nature, maybe a park ranger or something in the field of wildlife management.

What is your dream project?

The next one.

You can follow Kurt M Kalafsky on Twitter: @KurtKalafsky.

The oldest of the three United States Library of Congress buildings, the Thomas Jefferson Building was built between 1890 and 1897. It was originally known as the Library of Congress Building and is located on First Street SE, between Independence Avenue and East Capitol Street in Washington, D.C. The Beaux-Arts style building is known for its classicizing facade and elaborately decorated interior. Its design and construction has a tortuous history; the building's main architect was Paul J. Pelz, initially in partnership with John L. Smithmeyer, and succeeded by Edward Pearce Casey during the last few years of construction.

The oldest of the three United States Library of Congress buildings, the Thomas Jefferson Building was built between 1890 and 1897. It was originally known as the Library of Congress Building and is located on First Street SE, between Independence Avenue and East Capitol Street in Washington, D.C. The Beaux-Arts style building is known for its classicizing facade and elaborately decorated interior. Its design and construction has a tortuous history; the building’s main architect was Paul J. Pelz, initially in partnership with John L. Smithmeyer, and succeeded by Edward Pearce Casey during the last few years of construction.

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post.

We sincerely appreciate all your comments.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

FC3 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN, LLC
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e-mail: fcunha@fc3arch.com
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Licensed in CT, DC, DE, FL, MD NJ, NY, PA, VA


ILMA of the Week: Eero Saarinen

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Eero Saarinen (August 20, 1910 – September 1, 1961) was a Finnish American Architect and industrial designer of the 20th century famous for varying his style according to the demands of the project: simple, sweeping, arching structural curves or machine-like rationalism.

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One of Saarinen’s earliest works to receive international acclaim is the Crow Island School in Winnetka, Illinois (1940). The first major work by Saarinen, in collaboration with his father, was the General Motors Technical Center in Warren, Michigan. It follows the rationalist design Miesian style: incorporating steel and glass, but with the added accent of panels in two shades of blue. The GM technical center was constructed in 1956, with Saarinen using models. These models allowed him to share his ideas with others, and gather input from other professionals. With the success of the scheme, Saarinen was then invited by other major American corporations to design their new headquarters: these included John Deere, IBM, and CBS. Despite their rationality, however, the interiors usually contained more dramatic sweeping staircases, as well as furniture designed by Saarinen, such as the Pedestal Series. In the 1950s he began to receive more commissions from American universities for campus designs and individual buildings; these include the Noyes dormitory at Vassar, as well as an ice rink, Ingalls Rink, and Ezra Stiles & Morse Colleges at Yale University.

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He served on the jury for the Sydney Opera House commission and was crucial in the selection of the now internationally known design by Jørn Utzon. A jury which did not include Saarinen had discarded Utzon’s design in the first round. Saarinen reviewed the discarded designs, recognized a quality in Utzon’s design which had eluded the rest of the jury and ultimately assured the commission of Utzon.

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Eero Saarinen and Associates was Saarinen’s architectural firm; he was the principal partner from 1950 until his death in 1961. The firm was initially known as “Saarinen, Swansen and Associates”, headed by Eliel Saarinen and Robert Swansen from the late 1930s until Eliel’s death in 1950. The firm was located in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan until 1961 when the practice was moved to Hamden, Connecticut. Under Eero Saarinen, the firm carried out many of its most important works, including the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (Gateway Arch) in St. Louis, Missouri, the Miller House in Columbus, Indiana, the TWA Flight Center at John F. Kennedy International Airport that he worked on with Charles J. Parise, and the main terminal of Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C.. Many of these projects use catenary curves in their structural designs. One of the best-known thin-shell concrete structures in America is the Kresge Auditorium (MIT), which was designed by Saarinen. Another thin-shell structure that he created is the Ingalls Rink (Yale University), which has suspension cables connected to a single concrete backbone and is nicknamed “the whale.” Undoubtedly, his most famous work is the TWA Flight Center, which represents the culmination of his previous designs and demonstrates his expressionism and the technical marvel in concrete shells.

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

Marcela Abadi Rhoads, AIA RAS, whom I had the pleasure of meeting on Twitter, is the owner of Abadi Accessibility, an accessibility consulting firm that is dedicated to educating the building industry about the laws of accessibility. She  received her Bachelor of Architecture  in 1991 from  the University of Texas in Austin and became a Registered architect in 1999 in Texas and a registered accessibility specialist in 2001.  Marcela  is sought after by owners and architects across the country who look to her for guidance to understand the accessibility standards throughout the design and construction process.  She assists the building industry, in part, by performing plan reviews and inspection for TAS, producing  a monthly newsletter to educate on the best way to apply the standards to their architectural projects,  and wrote The ADA Companion Guide published  John Wiley and Sons which explains the 2004 ADAAG.

Marcela Abadi Rhoads 01

“The ADA Companion Guide: Understanding the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) and the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA)” by Marcela A. Rhoads

When and why did you decide to become an Architect?

Ever since I was a little girl, about seven years old, I wanted to be an architect.  My uncle was a Civil engineer, my cousin is an architect and my grandmother studied interior design.  I was very influenced by them and what I would see. When I was a teenager, my other uncle went to the University of Texas to study engineering also, and told me that when I became an architect we could work together.  What a great incentive.  So the seed was planted.

What were some of the challenges of achieving your dream?

At the time I attended architecture school, male professors did not respect women.  So I had to work extra hard to be respected.  Another challenge was that I had NO idea how much art and drawing I was going to need.  I thought it would be more mathematical.  So although I loved to draw, I focused on physics and calculus in high school in preparation when I probably should have been taking more art and drawing.  So my colleagues that came from that background did much better than me at first.  But I slowly but surely caught up to them.

Later in life I was also challenged by the fact that I was a woman.  Being a woman living in the South, looking young and being short did not elicit much confidence and respect.  But I worked hard and proved myself.  I am also not a great test taker (I get very nervous) so when I was ready to sit for my boards (ARE) I forgot everything I knew.  It took me a couple of years to pass all my nine exams!  But I did it! yay!

Any memorable clients or project highlights?

My very first solo project was the Dallas headquarters for Univision.  I started out as the intern, but then the project manager quit in the middle and they put me in charge!  Wow!  I loved it.  I became very close to the client (and we are still friends today) and saw the project go from design all the way to CA.  It was amazing!

Another awesome highlight is when I was asked to write a book about the ADA (which is my passion!).  John Wiley and Sons approached me after seeing my group on LinkedIn (Abadi Accessibility News Group) and asking me to write a book explaining the ADA.  We called it “The ADA companion Guide: Understanding the ADA”.  It was the most exciting thing ever!  And then they liked working with me so they asked me for a second book that just came out in March called “Applying the ADA”.  I collaborated with three other architects friends of mine to develop a case study book on the ADA.  I think it came out really nicely.

How do you balance design with your family life?

That is one of my biggest challenges.  I decided to start my own firm when I became pregnant with my first child for that very reason.  I have my work at home, so my kids always see me here (unless I am in meetings). I try to schedule all my meetings and travels during the day while they are at school, so I can be home with them in the evening.  Lucky for me I am an observant Jewish woman who keeps the Sabbath.  That makes me take one day off every week (no matter what).  That day I spend with my family.  But during the week, I may not sleep as much when I have deadlines.  I work after the kids go to bed, or after my husband goes to bed.  I really try to give them my priority.  That is really difficult and I am so busy.

How does your family support what you do?

They are great!  They really never complain.  I do hear them when they say they want me to do something with them.  I make time for them so they allow me time for my work.  They are really awesome!  I remember when I was writing my two books and all the number of hours that I would spend on it, and my family was very supportive and understanding.  It also helps to have my husband also be an architect….but that is a different question

How do Architects measure success?

I think happy clients which then either return or give me referrals are my gauge.  If I have a project, even if it was not perfect, but after I work with my clients they are happy at the end, I think that is success!

What matters most to you in design?

For me if a design is thoughtful to its users that is the most important thing.  We can all design what we want, but if it does not work with what the end user needs it to do, then it is an exercise in ego boosting.  It is very important to me to have a project that is designed so that everyone can use it and is universally thoughtful.

What are the challenges you face realizing your vision?

Time.  There is never enough time in a day to do all I want to do.  So I have to learn how to prioritize and not do everything.

How do you translate the client’s vision to meet your own design expectations?

I try to put my ego aside, but also be a guide for my clients.  I hear what they are ultimately interested in seeing, and then I try to find them solutions that would be good design and also meet their expectations.  Most of the time they are looking for my input anyway, so that is not so hard.  When they have an idea in mind that doesn’t meet mine, I try and listen and adapt my ideas to theirs, but still guide them in a path that I will be happy to see.

Marcela Abadi Rhoads 02

“Applying the ADA: Designing for The 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design in Multiple Building Types” by Marcela A. Rhoads

What do you hope to achieve over the next 20-30 years?

I would love to have more people working for me so I can devote my time to marketing and relationship building.  I would love to be the person who meets the clients, come up with a great design for them and then comes back to the office and delegates the work to my other architects.  I am hoping that will happen by then.  I don’t ever think I will retire, though.  Being an architect is in my DNA.  It is who I am, not what I do.  So in 30 years when I am in retiring age, I still hope to be designing.

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

Our profession is ever evolving.  The involvement that design professionals have on projects is always a big issue.  I would hope that through education and advocacy we can have architects be the leaders we once were.  That is what I’m hoping to contribute.

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

I hope to instill the passion for architecture to the young architects by attending AIA events, volunteering to lecture and educate about universal design, ADA and how we can design environments that are usable and inclusive for all.  I have a strong passion about that, and I hope to bring that passion to the younger generation and try to teach them about how a great architect influences our profession and our society.

Marcela’s Contact Information 

You can get in touch with Marcela via her website www.abadiaccess.com or email her at marhoads@abadiaccess.com

You can also purchase her books by clicking here.

Marcela Abadi Rhoads

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We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments.

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!

Have a great weekend!

Sincerely,
Frank Cunha III
I Love My Architect – Facebook

FC3 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN, LLC
P.O. Box 335, Hamburg, NJ 07419
e-mail: fcunha@fc3arch.com
mobile: 201.681.3551
direct: 973.970.3551
fax: 973.718.4641
web: http://fc3arch.com
Licensed in NJ, NY, PA, DE, CT.


10 STEPS TO GETTING THINGS DONE: WHAT MY KIDS TAUGHT ME ABOUT LEADERSHIP AND TEAM BUILDING

I often compare working with adults to working with children. Here is a list of suggestions to getting something done, whether it is other colleagues at work or your kids at home.

Please share your comments and feedback below this post.

1. SHARE THE VISION
It’s never easy getting someone else to just “buy in” and do something — at least not unless there is some big reward at the end. So share your vision and get “buy in” from your team. If it is possible, allow the team to shape the vision of the project, task, or event.

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2. MOTIVATION
Find out what motivates your team. My wife and I have been procrastinating about swapping out the kids play room with my office. By engaging my team (my kids) while my wife was out, I was able to have them help us jump start the small but arduous task ahead of us (since the two rooms are separated by two flights of stairs).

3. BREAKING DOWN A BIG TASK INTO SMALLER TASKS
Looking at all that needs to be completed is daunting, but when you break down the overall tasks into smaller, manageable tasks it appears doable. As things get done it is easy to keep the momentum going to complete the project and move on to the next one. Do not overwhelm the team — break down the activities into manageable tasks. Be realistic with the schedule to keep them motivated and on track.

4. FEEDBACK
Asking for and receiving continuous feedback helps the team see that their ideas matter. Integrating the team’s ideas into your overall project makes them feel vested in the project. It is easier to get things done when your entire team is on board with where things are headed. In my case, I asked my kids where they wanted to relocate some of the toy “stations” so they could be involved in the decision making process.

5. TAKE A BREAK
OK, playing “Rock, Paper, Scissors” and “Mickey Mouse Built a House, How Many Bricks Did He Use?” (throwbacks from when I was a kid), might not go over well at work. However, taking a break from a task will help recharge and refocus the team. Take this opportunity to encourage and bond with the team. Remind them of the vision.

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6. TEAM BUILDING
Use the break to bond. Whether or not this project is as successful as you envisioned it to be it is a learning opportunity (try to “break the eggs” and learn on the smaller or less important tasks, if you have to). Having a solid team will help with the success of future projects. We can grow from our challenges and experience and learn to work with our strengths (and the strengths of our team).

7. ENCOURAGEMENT
Keep giving the team positive reinforcement (and yourself too). Telling the kids that mommy was going to be “so happy” when she saw what we had undertaken, kept the little troops motivated walking up and down those stairs carrying office supplies and toys on those countless trips up and down stairs.

8. OFFER REWARD
Ice cream after dinner worked in my case. Again, see what motivates the team and offer a reward. It doesn’t necessarily need to be money or a promotion. Something small like a gas card or tickets to the movie or ball game would be a nice token of appreciation for having your tea, finish the job. It makes them feel appreciated and keeps them focused on completing the tasks expeditiously.

9. NEXT PROJECT
Go back to the team and see what ideas they have for the next project. Also remember to ask what the best and worse parts of the project were so that the next project is even more successful. Make a list of “Lessons Learned” so you don’t forget!

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10. MANAGEMENT & PASSING THE TORCH
If you can, avoid being a micro-manager; Next time be part of the team instead of being the leader. Let the others take the role of the committee chair, project managers, etc. What better way to teach leadership then to give someone else a turn to manage a project, task, or event? You can mentor each other (if you are willing to be reversed-mentored). They get a seasoned team member with a wealth of knowledge and experience. It’s a win-win for both and a fantastic way to build a strong, versatile team. It’s also humbling and a great way to see the project from the eyes of the guys in the trenches, which in turn, will make you a better leader for the next big thing.

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments.

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!

Have a great weekend!

Sincerely,
Frank Cunha III
I Love My Architect – Facebook

FC3 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN, LLC
P.O. Box 335, Hamburg, NJ 07419
e-mail: fcunha@fc3arch.com
mobile: 201.681.3551
direct: 973.970.3551
fax: 973.718.4641
web: http://fc3arch.com
Licensed in NJ, NY, PA, DE, CT.