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.


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.

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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



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 at NJIT School of Architecture

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

Team New Jersey To Make Precast Concrete Solar House Reality

NEWARK, Jul 12 2011 – Construction of ENJOY: A Generation House, the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011 entry from Team New Jersey, a collaborative effort of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey and New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), begins July 11, 2011 following a ground-breaking at NJIT.  Once construction of the house is complete, Team NJ will hold an official topping-off event at NJIT with major sponsors and VIP guests. Work will continue at NJIT throughout the summer with the students performing tests to ensure all systems work properly.   

In September, the house will be de-constructed, loaded onto trucks, and shipped to the competition site on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Upon arrival, the team will aim for a two-day reconstruction timeline before adding finishing touches. Once completed, the ENJOY House will be ready to accommodate the thousands of visitors who will be touring the house during public display hours from Sept. 23-Oct. 2, 2011.

The ENJOY House is designed around a central core containing integrated systems. It is the first house in the competition’s history to use precast concrete panels as the primary construction material. ENJOY, a beach-inspired house, will feature an inverted-hip roof design for rainwater collection to support irrigation and grey water systems, an 8.2kW photovoltaic system that will allow the house to be completely powered by the sun, and the application of universal design principles, which will allow the house to be accessible to people of all ages and levels of mobility.

An interdisciplinary project, Team NJ is composed of architecture and industrial design students from NJIT’s College of Architecture and Design and engineering, landscape architecture, planning, and computer science students from Rutgers University. Students regularly attend meetings with professionals in the field and take classes that focus on specific aspects of the design, such as a class on green building at Rutgers University, the NJIT Solar Design Studio and System’s Interface Studio, along with several classes offered in the landscape architecture school and engineering school.

Click here to read the rest of the article

Click here to see previous post of Team NJ Solar House Project

@RutgersU and @NJIT Compete in 2012 Solar Decathlon


NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey and the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) have partnered to compete as “Team New Jersey” in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011 competition (led by Richard Garber of GRO Architects, previously featured for his design of a concrete home in Jersey City). Team New Jersey is one of 20 collegiate teams, selected from an international pool of 40 candidates, challenged to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are affordable, energy-efficient, and attractive. The winner of the competition is the team that best blends cost-effectiveness, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency. “The selection of Team New Jersey as a participant in the Solar Decathlon 2011 puts New Jersey squarely on the international ‘green building’ map now,” said Jennifer Senick, Executive Director of the Rutgers Center for Green Building at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers University. The Center played a key organizing role in the Solar Decathlon 2011 proposal and will continue this capacity throughout the project. “This is a vote of confidence by the USDOE in New Jersey’s green building activities, and Team New Jersey’s design will showcase innovations that represent the future of green economy.”

For more information about the project or questions regarding fundraising may be directed to Deborah Plotnik at (732) 932-4101 x 626 or dplotnik@rci.rutgers.edu.

Click on the following link to visit the official U.S. Department of Energy site: http://www.solarteamnewjersey.com.

My Architecture Manifesto: “Architecture Shall Live On” by @FrankCunhaIII

I was honored to be asked to write a “Dear Destin” letter in the memory of my friend and teacher, Stephen Perrella (RIP).  For a son (Destin) to know and understand his father through his legacy and the remnants of what was left behind is challenging but without memories we cannot be human.  Without Architecture one cannot truly appreciate life.  Great Architecture is all around us.  It is important for us to celebrate it each and every day.  It is important for all of us to reflect and teach the young ones around us what it means to be alive.  To inhabit a great space is to love and to live.  To me, great Architecture is a gift to be cherished.

February 22, 2011

Dear Destin,

Your father Stephen Perrella is a special person who was gifted in many ways. To me he was a teacher, a friend, and a colleague. Most of all he was a theorist. He formulated, devised, calculated. He manipulated, transformed, and sculpted space. He was a weaver of space.

Before I begin I have to say that your birth changed Stephen for the better. You filled a void in his soul that no one else could. You enriched his soul and thirst for life. He lived each day for you. After you were born, Stephen was at peace with himself and transformed his pursuit from theory to the built.

Architecture design left un-built is not really Architecture, but merely a lot of ideas. You must build in order for something to be considered Architecture.

Architecture is the marriage of art and science of designing and erecting buildings and other physical structures. Architecture is a style and method of design and construction of buildings and other physical structures for human use.

Although more than a decade has past since I took his class I still hold his 4 principals of Architecture/Theory/Design close to me. Not a day goes by when I do not think about what he taught me.

Sign Structure Context Program

These four simple words are the devices that I use every time I design “space.” Although the meaning of these words evolves with the passing of time, these canons have passed the test of time.

The general (abbreviated) definitions are as follows:


In true Venturian spirit (1), our first lesson in Stephen’s studio was to examine signs along the roadway. The “image,” “face,” “aesthetic,” “look” of something created is the “Sign,” a modern day façade.

Like Filippo Brunelleschi before him, Stephen was interested in spatial theory. The Florentine Architect and Engineer Brunelleschi was the first to carry out a series of optical experiments that led to a mathematical theory of perspective.

When I design, and I think of Signage, I think of what one will see. How the Architectural object will be seen and remembered. It is important to consider this since Architecture is often considered an object someone looks at from the outside.


After that examination was complete, Stephen asked us to look at how the signage was structured.The structure itself becomes integral to the design of space and what I remember most was Stephen’s passion for the great philosophers like Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari (2). In particular I remember reading “The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque,” but Stephen got me so excited that I bought every philosophy book I could get my hands on.


As important as what something look likes or how it stands is to know how it is placed in it’s surrounding. This became the third study in Stephen’s studio.

I remember looking at information and flow of information from a theoretical standpoint and my view of what context could be. In today’s world, context changes (telecommunications for example). We studied Bernard Tschumi’s “Architecture and Disjunction” and learned about how program, context, image could be interchanged so that the design would be altered. For example, take an existing cathedral and adapt it as a parking garage. To think of Architecture as an object and then transform it’s context changes how the object is perceived, which leads me to Stephen’s final principle.


By the chronological placement of this final study I have to assume that your father believed in “Function FOLLOWS Form” (3) although I can be wrong. At the time of teaching this class Stephen was not only “competing” with himself but with other Architects like Reiser and Umemoto. As you may know by now Stephen coined the term, “Hypersurface,” which was an archetype or typology of architectural production.

Once you put these four parts together to develop a system a unique theoretical work of Architecture can be created.

The system that is created to produce the design changes each time and the result is always different. This is a fantastic attribute in a world that longs for uniqueness and creativity. I have not fully realized everything that I want to realize in my young career yet, but I know that armed with the education your father gave me I can use these principals to produce wonderful Architecture.

I hope this brief recap is only the beginning and we can share more ideas on Stephen’s life one day soon.

Truly Yours,

Frank Cunha III, AIA, NCARB


(1) Venturi, Robert, Denise Scott Brown, and Steven Izenour. Learning from Las Vegas: The Forgotten Symbolism of Architectural Form. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1977

(1) Gilles Deleuze (18 January 1925 – 4 November 1995) was a French philosopher who, from the early 1960s until his death, wrote influentially on philosophy, literature, film, and fine art. His most popular works were the two volumes of Capitalism and Schizophrenia: Anti-Oedipus (1972) and A Thousand Plateaus (1980), both co- written with Félix Guattari. His metaphysical treatise Difference and Repetition (1968) is considered by scholars to be his magnum opus.

(3) “Form follows function” is a principle associated with modern Architecture and industrial design in the 20th century. The principle is that the shape of a building or object should be primarily based upon its intended function or purpose.

Some images of my third year studio project with Stephen (Spring of 1996 at NJIT SOA):

Las Vegas Hotel of the Future – Floor Plan

The shape of the movement of the Architectural form is informed by the mountains surrounding Las Vegas, NV.

Las Vegas Hotel of the Future – Information is Gathered

The human Body and the Folds were examined for this project.

Las Vegas Hotel of the Future – Information Flows

The elegance of the ballerina versus the vulgarity of the LV Strippers was analyzed.
Perhaps the Show Girl fits someplace in the middle?

Las Vegas Hotel of the Future – Information is Disseminated

If Twitter, Facebook, and Linked In existed, this project would emulate the feeling
of “plugging” into something greater than oneself.  The Architectural space produced by
“the object” is informed by moving/experiencing the city following the rhythm of its context.

Las Vegas Hotel of the Future – The Show Girls & Strippers Inform

Can Show Girls and Strippers inform great Arhcitecture and spaces? Sure why not?
Architecture can be sexy and smart.

Information Flows thru the Strip Like a Cyclone or Tornado like an Information Hurricane carving space.

I guess there was a collective consciousness arising about social awareness and a social
consciousness because the idea here was that the occupants of the city of the future would all
contribute to the overall Architectural object.  The building itself was comprised of the people who
inhabited it (kinda like those smart vechicles that plug in and chain up on the road to create
super-trains that create hierarchical domination over the less efficient vehicles on the road).

Las Vegas Hotel of the Future – The occupants and the space are one.

Does the Architecture inhabit the occupant or vice-versa?

Nomadic Space / Nomadic Occupants

The whole idea is that Architecture is NOT static.  It moves with the flow of energy/information
and engulfs the occupants within it as it speeds through the city, plugging in from one space to another.

There is an “Information Exchange” throughout City

The result of the “carving” of space is that imprints are left on the existing hotels on the Strip.
The “old” Architecture is informed by the “new” spinning object (a bit like Zaha and Libeskind).

The bright lights, neon lights, gambling games, billboard signs and the
natural landscape of the mountains surrounding the Strip all inform the Architecture of the
City and inform the shape of the Hotel of the Future.
The sculpture that is created carves space and changes the landscape of the City.
The hotel of the future exchanges information by moving throughout the Strip.The cyclone / tonado / hurricane that is “the process” of creating the design can
cease to exist and what is left over becomes the Architecture of the City.
The Architecture is informed by the form that is created.  The Architecture exposes its structure.
Occupants “plug” into the Architecture by communicating with others.  (Back then there was no
social media (Aghhh), but in a sense that is what I had in mind when I developed this project.)

[Isms] A Quote I Heard Once

“An Owner wants the most for the least, the Contractor wants to do the least for the most, and the Architect/Designer wants the most for the most.”

Copyright © 2010 Frank Cunha III.
Frank Cunha III – Architect & Visual Artist
Registered Architect, NJ, NY, PA, CT, DE
PO Box 335, Hamburg, NJ 07419
E-mail: fc3arch @me.com
Tel: 973.970.3551
Fax: 973.718.4641

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