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
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 CT, DC, DE, FL, MD NJ, NY, PA, VA


Ask the Architect: An Exclusive Interview with Architect @FrankCunhaIII

FC3 Interview 01

Ask the Architect

An Exclusive Interview with Architect Frank Cunha III

by Denise Franklin 

Follow Denise Franklin on Twitter

Frank Cunha III, AIA, NCARB is a Registered Architect licensed in CT, DC, DE, FL, MD, NJ, NY, PA and is currently seeking reciprocity in VA as well.  Mr. Cunha is the founder of FC3 Architecture + Design, established in 2005 to serve its clients in various markets, including commercial and residential projects. He writes / blogs for I Love My Architect and Just Architecture.

You can find him online at:

  What was it about Architecture that helped you decide it was the field for you?

I always loved to draw as a child and I always loved to build.  Give me scraps of cardboards and leftover bricks and sticks in the backyard and my imagination would take over.  I was always fascinated with churches and castles.  They have a very obvious Archetype, and from a very early age I always imagined that I too would be able to one day shape the design of our cities and how people inhabit them.  Even when I travel, it is the Architecture that defines the people and the place (unless you are in the wilderness, where nature rules supreme).  In the city, man (men and women) are able to shape the world we live in.  With this ability comes great responsibility not just freedom to do whatever we want.  The industrial and post-industrial eras have taught us that!

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How long have you been in the profession?

 After 5 years of Architecture school and after 3 years of internship and after passing my NCARB IDP Architecture Exam I “officially” became a Registered Architect in January 2004.  It was not easy but it was worth it.  Going through the arduous process allowed me to learn the different aspects of being an Architect.

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It appears that Architecture incorporates many fields of study, for example; astronomy, meteorology, geography and I am sure there is much more.  Could you explain?

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Throughout history, especially before technology and social media distractions, civilizations, would honor the heavens by building monuments.  Examples of this can be seen all over the world and there are plenty of interesting websites that address this. 

Astronomy is one of the oldest sciences so it is no wonder that early civilizations would use the mathematics from the heavens to orient their buildings and monuments. Many pre-historic cultures left behind astronomical artifacts such as the Egyptian and Nubian monuments, and early civilizations such as Babylonians, Greeks, Chinese, Indians, and Maya performed methodical observations of the night sky. Climatology, the study of atmospheric science, is another extension coming out from Astronomy. In Architecture both the disciplines that is astrology and climatology, leads to a concept known as Vastu.

If you want to learn more about these interdisciplinary studies, you can click here or click here.  

FC3 Interview 06

FC3 Interview 07

Today, Architects still consider orientation when placing a building and the building components on the site. The building’s orientation can even help Architects obtain LEED credits from the US Green Building Council, an organization that promotes sustainable design and construction around the world.

 Is there a deciding factor for you when agreeing to take part in projects?

FC3 Interview 08

 One thing I have learned over the past 15 years in the field of Architecture is that there are many components to accepting and working on a project.  While we all need to make money to eat and survive, here are a few things that should be considered before agreeing to take on a project:

  1. Is there a chemistry between the client and the designer, i.e., do you like each other? Can you work well together?
  2. Is the project exciting and challenging?
  3. Can I assemble the right team to complete the project effectively? And do we have the right fee to allow our design team to perform the project effectively?

If the answer to any of these is “no” then I keep looking for another opportunity.  Every time an opportunity passes, two or more new ones appear.  Don’t be hasty just for the sake of getting a project!

 The projects you are sharing today are they based on specific concepts?

 As a young Architect my aesthetic and design concepts are still evolving.

Although we do not force my designs on my clients, we do have some underlying principals we like to maintain on our projects whenever feasible.  

FC3 Architecture takes a Holistic approach to each individual project to meet the client’s specific needs.   We work with our team of expert consultants to bring the most value to the client through rigorous, integrated design practices.  It is our mission to explore and develop the “Architectural Design Aesthetics” & “Building Tectonics  Systems” to engage the following issues on a project-by-project basis, where applicable, to discover and address the project requirements established by the client and the Architect during the Pre-Design phase:

  • Program / Livability / Functional
  • Provide efficient space planning to maximize client’s programmatic needs (don’t over build)
  • Contextual/Site 
  • Determination of most effective use of a given site
  • Optimize access to the site
  • Maximize land, views, lighting, wind, water elements, other natural features, etc.
  • Provide guidance for best use of materials, structure, and form
  • Properly integrate new design into existing contextual surroundings
  • Sustainable / Environmental
  • Coordinate with client’s abatement team when required
  • Coordinate with client’s commissioning team when required
  • Provide guidance and integration on current sustainable trends
  • Sustainable Design
  • Energy Use & Conservation
  • Waste Management
  • Selection of Materials – Reuse, Recycling, Renewable sources, etc.
  • Water Use & Conservation
  • Structural / Tectonic
  • Coordinate with structural team to develop integrated structural design
  • Coordinate with MEP team to develop integrated MEP design
  • Coordinate with other industry experts as needed to meet project goals
  • Historic / Preservation
  • When required, document and research preservation of historic elements
  • Provide design details that are sensitive to preexisting building/site elements
  • Engage our expert consultant team as may be required
  • Economic / Legalization
  • Provide assistance in developing a feasibility study
  • Assist client’s legal counsel with Planning/Zoning Board approvals
  • Constructability / Management
  • Assist client with project schedules and budgets throughout the project
  • Engage our expert construction/project management team as may be required

For anyone in school considering Architecture as a profession, check out this great article by my colleague, William Martin, AIA.

Click here to see some of Frank’s recent featured projects.

Click here to read more “Ask the Architect” articles.


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

Also Check Out:

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.


ILMA Features Aspiring Architect, John Fernandes

About John Fernandes

I grew up in the Ironbound section of Newark, NJ. Coming from a Portuguese family made it quite easy to live and socialize with people in the area. I’ve gone to Portugal pretty much every summer of my life. Being that I live in the country side of Portugal, I get the two different sides of the spectrum of living. After I graduated the 8 th grade from Ann St. School, I moved to Summit, NJ where I attended high school. I took many different electives that somewhat related to architecture and the construction industry.

My pursuit for a career in Architecture didn’t occur until I started to take architecture classes in my junior year. The pursuit also came from an architect who now happens to be a friend and colleague of mine, Frank Cunha. He designed the house I live in now and every time he came over to talk about his work, you can see he was very happy with his job. So deciding to take up architecture, I enrolled at NJIT, and soon saw why Frank had so much passion for his work. I easily fell in love with the idea of architecture and design. I am now in my last semester at NJIT and will be graduating in May 2013. I have also been working at a firm as an intern since November of 2011 and have worked on residential as well as commercial projects.

Johh NJIT

Johh at NJIT School of Architecture

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Also Check Out:

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
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 CT, DE, FL, NJ, NY, PA.


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

What better way to ring in the new year than to highlight one of our new designer colleagues discovered on social media?

Tara Imani, AIA, CSI, is a registered architect and owner of Tara Imani Designs, LLC, a solo practice in Texas, focusing on residential renovations, commercial space planning, and architecture. She has been blogging for over a year now, beginning with her debut blog post on AIA KnowledgeNet in October, 2010 where she explored what is now a commonplace question in the field of architecture: “Is the Architecture Profession in Need of a Makeover Despite the Upturn in the Economy?” (<—You can click on the highlighted title to link to the blog and join the conversation).

The Parthenon ruins in Athens. "For complex visual and psychological reasons, it's an extremely powerful building."

The Parthenon ruins in Athens. “For complex visual and psychological reasons, it’s an extremely powerful building.”

Architect Q&A:

11)   Who / what has been your greatest influence in design?

This is a very interesting question because I try not to be defined by a certain style- I consider myself eclectic.  In thinking more deeply about this, I have to say it was my formal education at Ohio State that has by far been the greatest influence on me.  Sub-consciously when I sit down to design, I think about how we would go about solving various design studio problems and what would Professors Doug Graf, John Regan, Ben Gianni or Mas Kinoshita say about “that idea!”  It is incredible to think what an indelible imprint our design professors make on our creative thought processes.  Not to mention the influence of seeing how other students handle certain design problems.  We learn from each other.

Aside from my background, I draw inspiration and learn new ways of doing things by reading various architecture magazines.  But each client and project is different and it is important to respond to the immediate context, specific program needs, and design based on those parameters while addressing the required jurisdictional planning, building, and ADA codes (which are baseline requirements and should be exceeded).

“Every new project is essentially a blank canvas.”
~ Tara Imani, AIA

ILMA-001

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

There are so many building types I have not yet worked on.  I would like to take existing programs and improve them such as Student housing at universities, solving urban and suburban decay, revitalizing neighborhoods, redesigning and adapting existing facilities to new uses.  All of these projects excite me.

I would love to be part of a think tank team that tackles big problems.  I like a challenge and to work with people who want to make a difference and aren’t afraid to try something new.

I’m very entrepreneurial and loved being part of my family’s start-up, creating everything from marketing materials, the company logo, branding our image, hiring new people, determining our core services, implementing new software systems and setting up the daily operations.  Every day was an opportunity to wear many hats.

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

I was asked to co-author a book on how to become an architect for emerging architects.  This was in August 2011 and I have yet to complete it.  I was gung-ho about the project and had actually been waiting for an opportunity to write such a book.  However, it has proved more difficult than originally anticipated—due to the rapidly changing A/E/C industry (with Revit, a move to BIM, IPD, and changes to LEED including a new International Green Building Code, etc.).  I was concerned that my lack of certain credentials would impede the book from being read.

The industry has changed so much due to technological advances that “seasoned architects” are in a reverse position of needing to be mentored and re-trained ourselves.

It is impossible to lead others without leading one’s self.”
~ Tara Imani, AIA

I get my inspiration and compass directions from architectural thought leaders such as James Cramer, founder of The Design Futures Council and Design Intelligence whose website and publications offer cutting edge information: www.di.net.  And staying active in social media also helps stay current on what other firms are doing- such as Tweet chats hosted by the AIA or reading posts on www.aia.org ‘s Knowledge Net forum—a place where mostly architects go to ask questions and share hard-won wisdom with one another.

And I look to outside sources in other arenas such Twitter where you can interact with such innovative leaders as Tom Peters, Vala Afshar, Lolly Daskal, and Frank Stephens whose thoughts and ideas can inform architecture in ways our otherwise insular profession has not had in the past.

The Louve Museum in Paris featuring IM Pei's glass pyramid at night

The Louve Museum in Paris featuring IM Pei’s glass pyramid at night

14)   What does Architecture mean to you?

This question reminds me of an ongoing conversation/debate we had on AIA’s Knowledge Net site a few years ago where we all tried to define “What is good design?”  Many of us easily fell back on Vitruvius’s Firmness, Commodity, and Delight (my favorite definition to date) while others said “modern” and still others wanted to focus solely on sustainability which, to me, is an underlying aspect that runs through all areas of design and is a pre-requisite consideration in the earliest stages of the design process.

When I hear the world ‘architecture’, I think of beautiful buildings like the Louvre museum in Paris or the Pantheon in Rome.  Architecture is synonymous with Aesthetics and cannot exist without a parti (French word for concept/diagram); a unifying concept/idea that makes sense of the project’s many parts.  This is what sets mere functional buildings with true architecture—that unspoken feeling of sublime awe when you experience a Gothic Cathedral (or so I’m told… I haven’t been to one- yet).

15)   What is your design process?

My design process is iterative.  It starts with meeting with the client and listening to their needs.  Vetting clients is very important and sometimes (even though as they say “beggars can’t be choosers”) it is best to turn down a project if the client refuses to understand the legal requirements of certain tasks or doesn’t have an adequate budget—unless you can assist with a creative solution to help them find a way to build it for less cost or come up with a way to assist them in raising the necessary funds.

“The client needs to respect the design capabilities and experience of the Architect.”
~ Tara Imani, AIA

Once the project goals, budget, scope of services (what I will do), and the fee (most important) is determined and agreed upon, the next step is to get a signed contract and a retainer fee.  Then, it is appropriate to begin to solve the design problem.

Sometimes, it is not possible to accomplish what I just wrote in the above paragraph as clients might be trying to decide if a particular site or lease space will work—in those cases, I can provide the client with a feasibility study for an agreed upon fee.

A lot of factors come into play that some clients might not be aware of—building codes differ by jurisdiction, fire codes are critical to comply with, occupancy loads are determined by square footages and use, construction budgets will be stretched.  It’s not a matter of merely “drawing up a set of floor plans”.  It’s a matter of orchestrating a confluence of design factors and meeting client expectations.

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

This is another intriguing question.  For years I was driven by a need to make others around me happy.  This led to being at everyone else’s beck and caw while ignoring my own needs.  It’s a delicate balance to pursue worthy goals without being selfish.

To answer your question more directly: I would like to be a writer or an actor.  I also enjoy dancing and the performing arts, so being an entertainer or speaker would be fun.

I feel I can do anything I set my mind to.

I’ve already mentioned some of my pursuits in play as a child; some of the other interests I had were creative writing, espionage, and organizing messy rooms/drawers/closets (even if it was someone else’s house).

Funny fact about me: At age 34 or so- when I was having a moment of frustration in the family business- I decided I would pursue my hidden desire to be a spy, so I called the FBI and asked them if they were hiring. LOL!  I really did that.  They said yes, they were but that the maximum age to train a new agent was 36.  I did the math and thought that it was too late to do that.  Naturally, I thought of the next thing: being a private detective.  So I opened the Yellow Pages and called a few (there are only a few listed anyway) and got an interview with one.  He was an older, handsome man much like the TV character Matlock.  Without looking at my resume or discussing anything, he looked directly at me across his big wooden brown desk and simply got right to the point and said, “Miss, you don’t want to want to be a Private Detective.” Insert uncomfortable pause. “Trust me.”

Of course, I was not satisfied with his answer. I needed to know specifically why:  Would I have to carry a gun?  Was he ever shot at? I think I asked him if the job required having to sneak around dark alleys at 3:00 a.m.

Well, he wasn’t specific in his responses other than to shake his head yes to all of the above and more.  I could tell his mind was made up so I took his advice and forsook any notions of suburban espionage.

17)   What is your dream project?

I would love to work on a Hollywood set although I’ve heard the pace is maddening.  My dream project is actually writing a book about Julia Morgan and having it made into a screenplay that I would get to co-direct.  I envision it as an epic period piece along the lines of ‘Titanic’ spanning her whole life- like a series- and showing to the finest detail what life was like for women in 1893 Paris when Julia was accepted on her third attempt into the L’Ecole des Beaux Arts.  I’ve envisioned various actresses playing her role from Julia Roberts to Angelina Jolie.  I think John Goodman or Brad Pitt would make a great William Randolph Hearst (Julia’s lifelong client).  So, it sounds like a match made in Heaven!

Click here to read Part 1 of this interview.

Tara’s Contact Info:

Tara Imani Designs 10333 Richmond Avenue, Suite 150 Houston, Texas 77042 Ph: (832) 723-1798 Fax: (832) 300-3230 Email: Tara@TaraImaniDesigns.com

The Villa Almerico-Capra (The Rotunda) by Palladio

The Villa Almerico-Capra (The Rotunda) by Palladio

Also Check Out:

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!

2013 is going to be great ~ Sending you lots of love, hope, peace, health, happiness and prosperity! 

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.


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

What better way to ring in the new year than to highlight one of our new designer colleagues discovered on social media?

Tara Imani, AIA, CSI, is a registered architect and owner of Tara Imani Designs, LLC, a solo practice in Texas, focusing on residential renovations, commercial space planning, and architecture. She has been blogging for over a year now, beginning with her debut blog post on AIA KnowledgeNet in October, 2010 where she explored what is now a commonplace question in the field of architecture: “Is the Architecture Profession in Need of a Makeover Despite the Upturn in the Economy?” (<—You can click on the highlighted title to link to the blog and join the conversation).

ILMA-Parthenon

Reconstruction of the Acropolis of Athens from NW: The entrance (Propylaia) to the Acropolis is at the bottom right, so that the first side of the Parthenon to be seen is the West side, the rear side.

Architect Q&A:

1)   When and why did you decide to become an Architect?

I discovered my love for architecture, interiors, and fine furnishings at a young age.  I enjoyed going furniture shopping with my mom and would find myself critiquing the various layouts in the showroom, wondering why the designers did it that way and wanting to try different layouts or do something similar in my own way. Maybe you’ve done this yourself, too, when you were growing up: rearrange the furniture in your parents’ home when they were out of the house for a while.  I did that to my mom on a few occasions and it met with much resistance.  That started at an early age, too- as soon as I was strong enough to move stuff around or coax my brother into helping. My passion for architecture started with house plans. After cleaning out the lower level hall closet and finding my parents’ stack of builder house plan books, I was hooked.  I began drawing my own floor plans and elevations, pinning them up on the wall in my bedroom.  My 5th grade bff (as the kids say nowadays) saw them and remarked at how much patience such detailed drawings would take; but to me it was sheer joy.  I never noticed the time. It was my dad who first told me I was going to be an architect.  And since he was an electrical engineer, he kept me well-supplied with proper drawing tools—sketch pads, quadrille paper, charcoals, pens, and pastels for rendering elevations. So I knew since 5th grade that I was going to be an architect.  In 8th grade, I did write in my journal that I wanted to be an interior designer.  So, I today, I am both—with a focus on Interior Architecture and space planning.

2)   What were some of the challenges of achieving your dream?

The biggest challenge has been overcoming fear.  The first fear was the looming board exam that I had heard mentioned whenever I told an inquiring adult what I wanted to be when I grew up.  So, along with my dream, I had a fear attached to it—of this monster test where I mistakenly believed I would need to bring the equivalent of my dad’s metal trunk full of books and reference materials to pass the exam. The other challenge was time management and the constant tension of wanting to spend time with loved ones (my boyfriend who became my husband) versus cranking out the project.  So, self-discipline and deferred gratification are two critical traits any architecture student will need to master early on if they want to be successful.

photo 1Gehry's Disney Concert Hall as captured by Photographer Mathijsvanden Boschhttp://500px.com/MathijsvandenBosch

Left: Tara’s website; Right: Gehry’s Disney Concert Hall as captured by Photographer Mathijsvanden Bosch.

3)   Any memorable clients or project highlights?

Every client and project has been a memorable experience and learning opportunity.  My most favorite firm to work for was Chris Abel Architects, AIA in Laguna Beach, California where we did high-end custom residential design for both new builds and renovations.  It was a beautiful place and location and everything about it was miraculous.  I worked for months helping Chris hand-draft a 5,000 sf beach home and additional guest house for a beachfront site in Kauai (using a now-ancient drafting arm- this was circa 1992).  The other memorable project I did with Chris was a two-story master bedroom suite and first floor pottery studio addition adjoining to an existing living room via an indoor atrium; it was a very eclectic home overlooking both the Pacific Ocean and the Aliso Viejo Canyon- the style can best be described as modern adobe exterior with an oriental interior motif (Chris designed a huge circle-shaped opening leading into the atrium which contrasted with the sloped adobe fireplace and otherwise rustic décor).  The most difficult part was getting the infamously strict Laguna Beach Design Review Board to approve the project and meet the height restrictions while ensuring the uphill next door neighbor’s view would not be blocked.  That was my first project to manage.  The client was very unique; she liked to wear (what we secretly referred to as) “leopard skinned bowling shoes” and during our morning jobsite meetings she preferred to drink her orange juice only after it’d been warmed in the microwave.  She was very astute and noted: “This is your first project, isn’t it?”  I didn’t quite know how to respond, so I simply acknowledged and clarified that no, it wasn’t my first one to work on, but yes, it was my first one to manage.  I knew I had a lot to learn about everything—especially about how to deal with clients and how to manage the bidding and construction process.  The latter point is a story for another day!

4)   How does your family support what you do?

Architecture can be an all-consuming business and few people can succeed while being loyal to their family (time-wise, etc.).  My father encouraged me to apply to architecture school and my mom enabled me to attend The Ohio State University by securing the necessary loans.  Otherwise, I was working as a bank teller for Buckeye Federal bank immediately following high school graduation.  The manager was upset when I left to go to school as they had put us new hires through three weeks of intense professional training at their special facility. So, two types of support are necessary—financial and emotional.  One without the other will not be sufficient. Over the years, family support has been touch and go.  But my dedication to architecture—whether consistent or not—remains my responsibility and no one else’s. In 1992, only five years after graduating from school, my husband and I made a decision to start a home health care and infusion therapy company with his sister, an RN.  It required us to move from southern California to Houston, TX.  My co-workers at Chris Abel’s firm thought I was crazy to move to the “armpit” of the south.  But work had been very slow and I was lucky to be employed at a time when many of my contemporaries were working outside the field.  It was a huge time of change, too, with firms transitioning to AutoCAD. I stayed in the healthcare business until 1998 and returned to architecture 6 months later.  I was able to find work because of the social connections I had made while studying for the licensing exams—so I always kept one foot in architecture while I was helping run the health care company.  And my family supported me by allowing me to take a paid 3-month sabbatical to study and pass the remaining exams.  I passed all except one- the design exam which became two computerized exams that I took and passed a few years later after our daughter was born.

5)   How do Architects measure success?

I can only speak for myself. When I think of a successful architect, I think of someone who has achieved a solid portfolio of built work spanning many years and whose buildings, designs, and/or residences resonate with their end-users.

6)   What matters most to you in design?

Design is a vast subject and covers so much.  I value beauty, good proportions, quality materials, and durability.

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

That’s a long time.  Your question has prompted me to realize I really only think in terms of today and the next year—of course, I envision a great future for my family for many years. Professionally, I would like to continue in the area of tenant build-outs, space planning, and interior design.  I have been begging my husband for years to team up with me to renovate houses and I think he’s about ready to do so.

FLW Guggenheim NYC-Framed-Sml

Photo: Frank Cunha III

8)   Who is your favorite Architect? Why?

I can say that I am not an avid follower/groupie of any particular architect except that I love the designs of Andrea Palladio, the 14th c. Italian architect famous for his beautiful houses, symmetrical designs, and arched windows.  While a student, the theories of Finnish architect Alvar Aalto resonated with me— his inclusive programs (as opposed to Mies van der Rohe’s exclusive, stark plans). I also love many of Frank Lloyd Wright’s homes and especially his Guggenheim Museum and I love Frank Gehry’s Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles—I guess in part because I have been there and experienced it. These days, I’m revisiting various architects’ manifestoes to get fresh ideas and perspectives. There is one architect I admire for her sheer perseverance as much as her work: Julia Morgan who was the first female architect in California who started out as a Civil Engineer and who endured many trials and challenges on her path to becoming a successful Architect.  Ironically, her work was absent from the curriculum at OSU.

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

My favorite historic project is The Parthenon in Athens, Greece (built between 447 – 438 B.C); I admire it because it is such an iconic image exemplifying all that is beautiful and graceful in architecture.  It is the inspiration behind my twitter handle: @Parthenon1. My favorite modern (contemporary) project is the Denver Airport design by Fentress Architects; I love tent structures and am so intrigued at how well-integrated the forms are with the rest of the structure and successfully done despite the harsh climate of wind, snow, and ice.  It, too, is a beautiful iconic image with the white peaks of the tents rhythmically rising, echoing the mountains beyond.

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

This is a particularly challenging question and one that I see many of us in the Architecture/Engineering/Construction industry grappling to answer every day on social media sites- what I call the new agora or Roman forum- such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+.  To read many tweets, posts and forum discussion threads is to realize that we’ve all embarked on a mysterious expedition to define the Next architectural manifesto that will solve the world’s problems through innovative, sustainable design.  It feels very much like we’re on the precipice of a major breakthrough but we haven’t yet been able to put it into concise words or build with new forms and materials. There are many thought leaders I look to such as Rachel Armstrong from Britain with her Architecture 2.0; and Ed Mazria who conceived and developed Architecture+2030 (a program to train architects to systemically address CO2 emissions from buildings). Definitely sustainable design, adaptive reuse and retrofitting existing buildings to be more “green” (yikes, I can’t believe I’m using that word!) and high technologies are going to govern how architects practice for years to come. I recommend reading “Building (In) The Future- Recasting Labor in Architecture” compiled and edited by Phil Bernstein and Peggy Deamer—according to at least some of the essays, the future of architecture is going to be much more fabricated off-site and mechanized like the car industry.  IKEA is one example of this with their new pre-manufactured housing.  I personally don’t like this trend but am keeping an open mind toward it.  I don’t want to see the loss of art and craft and design in the move toward BIM (Building Information Modeling) – another buzzword among many others such as IPD (Integrated Project Delivery- how a project is funded for risk/reward-sharing in profits).

Click here to read Part 2 of this interview.

Tara’s Contact Info:

Tara Imani Designs 10333 Richmond Avenue, Suite 150 Houston, Texas 77042 Ph: (832) 723-1798 Fax: (832) 300-3230 Email: Tara@TaraImaniDesigns.com

San Giorgio Maggiore by Palladio

San Giorgio Maggiore by Palladio

Also Check Out:

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!

2013 is going to be great ~ Sending you lots of love, hope, peace, health, happiness and prosperity! 

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.


Exclusive Interview: Meet Architect Arnie Untoria of @USA_Architects

I LOVE MY ARCHITECT is happy to interview Architect
Arnie Untoria, principal of USA Architects.

I once introduced Arnie as “my second favorite Architect” where he retorted, “who is your first, Frank Cunha?” Of course, I responded “Yes!”

Alhambra Palace, Spain

1) When and why did you decide to become an Architect?

Always had an inclination but not until my freshman year at JSSC when I met my cousins boyfriend that was attending Pratt, that kidding around I ask him for an application, which he took serious, that I transferred and began studies.

2) What were some of the challenges of achieving your dream?

Well, I always wanted to be my own boss, therefore I did achieved my dream, I had no idea it was going to be a combination of dream and nightmare (haha).

3) Any memorable clients or project highlights?

Many thru the years, my Beth projects: Warren Developmental Center, it was a gem of design.
My favorite client: Elizabeth Board of Ed, they are friendly, knowledgeable and practical.

4) How do you balance design with your family life?

My wife has been fighting cancer for over 3 year, how do I balance? Adrenaline and necessity.

5) How does your family support what you do?

My wife loves the idea of me being an architect, my kids brag about local projects we have completed. It’s good.

6) How do Architects measure success?

I cannot speak for all, but I measure success by three simple things, quality of design, relationship with the client and getting paid!

7) What matters most to you in design?

That the objective is accomplish to my and the client’s satisfaction.

8) What are the challenges you face realizing your vision?

Most of the time comes down to money, enough fee? Client’s realistic expectation and things like that.

9) How do you translate the clients vision to meet your own design expectations?

That is easy, is what architecture is all about, I try to put myself in the clients/ user shoes and learn as much as possible about the way the building should work and look, if I’m happy with it, 99% of the time the client will also be happy.

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

I’m 57 therefore in architecture I may have another dozen and then I will like to slow down and just be a mentor or an advisor to my peers.

11) Who is your favorite Architect? Why?

Portman because of his business ability and Sullivan because of HS design ability.

12) What is your favorite historic and modern project? Why?

Alhambra Palace in Granada  Spain, it fascinates me what degree of civilization was achieved while Europe was in the dark ages. Modern? Not a big fan of any, architecture has lost a lot of its art.

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

Unless we can have a big change in another direction, architecture, at least in the States, have been going down in quality and respect for decades now and I see no end in sight.

14) Who / what has been your greatest influence in design?

I cannot point to any particular architect or project but I am partial to the philosophy that form follows function.

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

A Hospital, it is a very complicated building type. Having spent so much time in hospitals since my wife’s illness, I am fascinated by its complications.

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

Not sure, in a way I’m already doing it with the younger generation in my office but not realizing the details.

17) What does Architecture mean to you?

It is my life for almost 40 years, I don’t know anything else.

18) What is your design process?

Listen to the client, educate the client and then try as best I can to translate the realities of the client’s dream into an affordable building solution.

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

A baseball player, hence way I’m an architect!

20) What is your dream project?

To be able to design some type of relevant project in my native Cuba one day.

Check out Arnie / USA Architects on the WebTwitter, and Facebook.

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.

Sincerely,
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
Licensed in NJ, NY, PA, DE, CT.