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.


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.

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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!

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Love It or Hate It The Spaceship Has Landed – How Apple Built a Campus Shaped Like a Mac-Pro

Apple Park

Apple Park is Apple’s second campus in Cupertino, California. It is often referred to as the “spaceship” campus due to its unique ring-shaped design. Encompassing 2.8 million square feet and spanning 176 acres, construction on the campus started in 2013 with a completion date set for Summer 2017. Employees will begin moving to the campus in April of 2017.
The first event to be held at Apple Park is scheduled for September 12, 2017, at the Steve Jobs Theater.

The entire front of the main building features iconic curved glass windows, letting employees look out at the rest of the campus, which will be covered in greenery and an orchard. Along with the primary building that will house 13,000 employees, there’s an underground auditorium for hosting events, a fitness center, a cafe, and a visitor’s center. Underground parking is available, and there are also two research and development facilities located nearby.

Apple Park was designed by late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in partnership with Norman Foster.

Apple’s new ‘campus’ to include hundreds of fruit trees for 14,200 employees in Cupertino

Apple Campus 2 Construction Update

At its October 15, 2013 adjourned regular meeting, the Cupertino City Council approved the Apple Park project.

Most of the 175 acre area is located on the former Hewlett Packard (HP) campus and is bounded by I-280 to the south, Wolfe Road to the west, Homestead Road to the north and North Tantau Avenue to the east. The replacement and rebuild proposal includes:

  • Demolition of approximately 2.65 million square feet of existing office, research and development buildings;
  • Construction of:
  • An office, research and development building comprising approximately 2.8 million square feet;
  • A 1,000 seat corporate auditorium;
  • A corporate fitness center;
  • A central plant;
  • Research facilities comprising up to 600,000 square feet located east and west of Tantau Avenue between Pruneridge Ave and I-280;
  • Associated parking

The City’s Review consisted of:


Read about my thesis on “technology-driven” space while at School of Architecture at NJIT: Click Here



Architect’s Sketchbook – Montclair State University (Sketches by @FrankCunhaIII, 2017)

College Hall is where the history and the future of Montclair State meet. It’s where every student’s college journey begins with Undergraduate Admissions and ends with the submission of their final audit to the Office of the Registrar for graduation.

College Hall is where it all started. Back in 1903, the New Jersey State Normal School in Trenton could no longer support New Jersey’s growing need for qualified teachers by itself, so the state approved plans for a new normal school to serve northern New Jersey. (A normal school was a post-secondary school devoted to training teachers.) And in 1908, the New Jersey State Normal School at Montclair admitted its first students.

College Hall’s Spanish mission-style architecture, which was adopted for other buildings on campus, was the inspiration of benefactor Edward Russ, a member of the New Jersey State Board of Education who liked buildings he saw on a trip to California. So he integrated the style into plans for College Hall, complete with red-tile roofs—a look that lives on in campus construction today.

In the beginning, College Hall housed almost everything—administrative offices, classrooms, a library and a gym. Today, it is Montclair State’s administrative hub, housing the offices of the President and the Provost, University Advancement, Admissions, the Registrar, the Graduate School and more.




Dedicated to the first president of Montclair State, Charles S. Chapin, in 1928, it is one of the original buildings of the Montclair State Normal School. This former residence hall was renovated in 1974, and again in 2009, and is now the home of the John J. Cali School of Music. The Leshowitz Recital Hall is also located in Chapin Hall.


Russ Hall was built in 1915 and served as the first residential facility of the State Normal School at Montclair, now of course known as Montclair State University. Converted at one point to an administrative building and then later renovated back to a residence hall, Russ Hall provides suite-style accommodations for approximately 100 students.


IMG_2253Dedicated to Allan C. Morehead, an alumnus and former professor, executive vice president and provost at Montclair State. Morehead Hall was used as a demonstration high school from 1929 to 1973. It now houses several student support services offices.



Better Than a Selfie

cels-004-selfiecels-003-have-funEveryone likes to take a selfie (these days).  Only thing better is when someone else takes a selfie some place you helped design and build.

What: Center for Environmental Life Sciences

Where: Montclair State University

Who: Architect ; Photographer ; Builder ; Project Manager

Happy New Year!

Frank Cunha III
I Love My Architect – Facebook
e-mail: fcunha@fc3arch.com
mobile: 201.681.3551
direct: 973.970.3551
web: Business / Personal
Licensed in CT, DC, DE, FL, MD, NJ, NY, PA, VA


Latest @FC3Architecture Project UnderWay

Axonometric View

Axonometric View

Axonometric View

Axonometric View

Proposed Front Elevation - Option #1

Proposed Front Elevation – Option #1

Proposed Front Elevation - Option #2

Proposed Front Elevation – Option #2

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A well documented set of construction drawings NOW decreases additional “hidden” construction costs LATER! by @WJMArchitect

By Bill Martin

A well documented project drawing set has a big impact on construction cost.

Less detail in the plan means more extra cost during the construction.

A well documented project gives the client maximum negotiating leverage with contractors during competitive bidding, this saves much more than the cost of the architects fee, reducing the total construction cost by thousands.

Listing out all of the fees and expenses and pushing to minimize each expense will not result in the lowest possible total cost.

There is an inverse relationship between construction cost and architects fee.

A well documented project drawing set may require more for an architects fee, but has a big impact on reducing total construction cost.

Learn more by clicking Bill’s website: WJM Architect



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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!

Frank Cunha III
I Love My Architect – Facebook

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.


#EcoMonday @FC3ARCHITECTURE – Going Green? We Can help!

Most, if not all, of our design and construction projects have had green components over the past 15 years.  Not sure where to start?  Give us a call at (201) 681-3551 or email us.

Going Green? We Can Help!

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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!

Frank Cunha III
I Love My Architect – Facebook

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.