Staff Spotlight: Liza Karimova...

Q: Where are you from?

I’m from Moscow, Russia, but I was born in Austria. I moved here about five years ago to attend university and before that I was living in Switzerland for a few years. I’ve lived in four different countries so far.

Q: Where did you go to school?

I went to UC Berkeley for architecture. In addition to the standard undergraduate curriculum I took some material science engineering classes.

Before attending university here, I visited California only once, but I really liked it. UC Berkeley was actually the only school I applied to in California and when I decided to come here my parents had a bit of a shock. They didn’t want me to move so far away from my family after already being in boarding school for 4 years. It took a bit of convincing but here I am!

Q: Who is in your family?

My parents, two dogs, and a twin brother who looks nothing like me! He’s much taller and blonde. I also have a tiny parrot who I haven’t seen in ages. Technically he’s a replacement parrot since they don’t live very long… I don’t know what he’s called anymore!

Q: What is one talent you wish you had?

I wish I could do a backflip… my goal is to learn how to do one before I die.

Q: When did you first develop an interest in architecture?

In high school I always enjoyed art, physics, and English and I thought architecture was a good way to combine all three. I also attended after-school art classes for four years, where we created for hours every day after regular school.

Honestly though, at first I really didn’t want to do it because my parents were pressuring me into it. Until one summer I took an architecture course at USC. It was the first time I stayed up all night working on a project, which I weirdly found really fun and fulfilling.

Q: What kinds of projects do you most enjoy working on?

I really enjoy projects that have some room for the unknown, where the design process can be like an experiment. It fascinates me to design living and working spaces, because it reveals so much about human nature. I have always enjoyed the sciences, so this is that part of me speaking.

Q: How long have you worked at FA?

Just over a year! Not counting my internship.

Q: What makes our office unique?

A lot of people say that it feels like a family – which is true, minus the drama. Everyone is so laid back! I love how comfortable we feel around each other.

Q: What’s your favorite part about coming to work?

There’s so much positivity and laughter! People really care about staying happy and making beautiful architecture. I also love our roof deck, I go there quite a lot.

Q: Do you have a professional role model?

I wouldn’t say that I have a role model, but I do have people I’m inspired by. Most of them are on the conceptual side of architecture. For example I like the work of John Hejduk and Martin Heidegger. They think outside the box and outside constraints of reality. I guess their work is more concerned with the human condition, temporality, and symbolism.

Q: What’s your design process like?

I try to stick to one simple idea but I almost always get side-tracked. And that often ends up being the best part- happy accidents! Although when I overthink things, it’s sometimes hard to tell whether an idea is good or just absurd. I always fluctuate between a logical and scientific approach, and a more intuitive one – sometimes, it’s hard to find the right balance of both!

Q: If someone designed a drink after you, what would be in it/what would it taste like?

A caramel latte, sometimes with a few shots of whiskey.

 

Staff Spotlight: Ben Welty...

Q: Where are you from?

Summerville, South Carolina. It’s a suburb of Charleston that had a small town feel while I was growing up but has gotten much bigger as urban sprawl has taken hold. Regardless, I have no plans of going back.

Q: Where did you go to school?

I received a BA in Architecture from Clemson University before heading to the University of Kansas to get my Masters. I chose KU to participate in their renowned Studio 804 design/build program.

Q: Who is in your family?

My parents are both retired and still live in the house I grew up in. My brother lives in my hometown as well and I’ve got two nieces and nephews.

My wife is an interior designer. We met at the University of Kansas and both moved out here after graduating. We got married in June of last year and had our reception in our current office back when it was an event space. We held the last event here before it became our design studio. Jonathan and Steven now sit where we had our first dance.

Q: When did you first develop an interest in architecture?

As a kid I was always playing with Legos and exploring houses under construction in my neighborhood. I just walked onto the construction sites on the weekends when no one was around; we didn’t ask. My aunt was a builder so I would spend some time as a kid with her on job sites.

I also took some architecture classes in high school, mostly drafting classes, before formally studying it in college.

Q: What kinds of projects do you most enjoy working on?

I mostly enjoy working on custom residential projects, specifically single family residential. I like doing new houses and new construction as well as remodels in the city. There are different aspects and challenges to both that I enjoy.

Q: How long have you worked at FA?

Four years this past May. Before starting here I was working at a small firm in SOMA.

Q: What makes our office unique?

Our collaborative design process and the fact that it’s not a top down approach. Everyone gets involved, has a voice, and contributes. And that’s encouraged.

Plus, it’s only a ten minute walk from my house!

Q: What’s your favorite part about coming to work?

It’s so close!

I just enjoy the work that I do and the people I work with. I’m very lucky to be surrounded by such talented individuals who have a passion for what they do. They make me a better architect and designer.

Q: If you could only eat one type of food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

SOUTH Carolina style BBQ pulled pork dressed in Carolina gold, a mustard based BBQ sauce. Not to be confused with the more colloquial Carolina style pulled pork from eastern North Carolina, an amalgamation of poorly cooked meat and an astringent vinegar-based sauce that is masked with a scoop of coleslaw. If you have to put coleslaw on your BBQ, it’s not good BBQ.

Q: Do you have a professional role model?

Not really. I admire different aspects of a lot of people that I try to emulate and learn from, including everyone I’ve ever worked for or with.  I take notice of the qualities in others that I admire. Whatever characteristics I spot in them that make them successful and effective leaders are ones I try to adopt as well.

Q: What’s your design process like?

When assigned a project, I first like to dive into the history behind a site or building as well as its context. A lot can be learned by studying the nuances of a place, and more often than not those studies lead to design inspiration. From there it’s about creating spaces that are appropriate in their surroundings and functional in their purpose.

I like to work in section early on to apply a three dimensional perspective to the conceptual and schematic processes. Otherwise you run the risk of the tail wagging the dog if you try to force this perspective to conform to the two dimensional plan. However, that is not the only thing to be considered as architecture is actually experienced in four dimensions, time being the fourth, so an understanding of how a space will be experienced throughout the course of the day and year is also crucial.

Q: Do you have any hidden talents?

Not really. I co-host a podcast that covers Clemson athletics but I won’t be quitting my day job anytime soon.

See You Ying!...

On the whole I have had a very good internship experience at Feldman Architecture. I have to say, at first I thought my tasks as an intern would be limited to serving coffee or cleaning up the materials library. However, the office scheduled different tasks for me each day, and also tried to make me work with many different people on staff, really pushing me out of my comfort zone. I was pleased to note that the projects I worked on and kept up with were all interesting and rewarding.

As an international student, English is my second language. Sometimes it is hard for me to speak out during meetings or when I have a question. However, everyone in this firm is so nice and friendly. They are always so patient with me and answer all my questions. It makes me feel like this team is more like a family.

I feel so grateful to have had a chance to be part of the team, even for just two months. I want to say thank you to everyone, especially Steven. From working with you I learned a lot of things which cannot be learned in school. And thank you to Evan, Liza, and Serena, for being my mentors and friends, and for making my internship experience so much more wonderful.

It has been a great honor to meet you guys and I hope I can see you all soon.

-Ying Pan

The Winning Recipes!...

Our office recently hosted an in-house Chili Competition & Margarita Mix-Off. At the end of the evening, Daniel took home the prize for ‘Best Chili’ while Heera claimed the title for ‘Best Margarita’! Recipes below:

Spicy Cadillac Margarita — Heera Basi

Ingredients:
-Ice
-Tequila
-Lime
-Cointreau

Optional:
-Grand Marnier
-Jalapeno

 

Directions

1) Fill glass about 1/2 way with ice
2) Into the glass squeeze juice from 1 lime
3) Stir in 1-2 shots of Tequila (depending on how strong you like it! My recipe has about 1 1/2 shots) and 1 shot of Cointreau
5) You could stop here and enjoy!
OR…
6) Add a float of Grand Marnier on top to make it a “Cadillac” Margarita
7) Add 1-3 Jalapeno slices to give it a kick! Drink will start out mild, but the heat will build!

Green Chicken Chili – Daniel Holbrook

Ingredients:
-3 Poblano peppers
-4 Jalapeño peppers
-1 ½” pounds of Tomatillos
-1 onion
-5 cloves of garlic
-1 beer (similar to Corona or Pacifica)
-1 cup of sour cream
-2 cans of Cannellini Beans
-2 cups of Chicken broth
-1 ½” pounds of boneless skinless chicken thigh
-1 tablespoon of Cumin
-1 teaspoon Chile powder
-1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika
-1/2 teaspoon or coriander
-1 teaspoon of honey
-salt and pepper to taste
-Cilantro
-Limes

 

Directions

1) Place Tomatillos, Poblanos and Jalapeños on a baking sheet and place under the broiler until skin is soft and blistered (10 minutes) Remove from oven.  Cover and let cool.
2) Once peppers and tomatillos are cool, remove blistered skin, Seed and rib the peppers and chop.
3) Season chicken with salt, pepper and a half teaspoon of Cumin.  In a heavy bottom pot, sear the chicken until brown on both sides.  Remove chicken and set aside.
4) Add onion and garlic to pot, sauté until translucent.  Add remaining Cumin and other spices, sauté until spices are fragrant.  Add beer to deglaze the pan.
5) Add Tomatillos and Jalapeno’s to the pot along with 2 cups of chicken broth (Save Poblano’s to add later).
6) Return chicken thighs to the pot to finish cooking.
7) Allow soup to simmer for 30-60 minutes.
8) Once simmered, remove chick thighs, then blend soup with an immersion blender.  Slowly stir in sour cream
9) Chop chicken thighs, return chicken to pot.  Add the Beans and Poblanos.  Let simmer for 20-30 minutes.
10) To thicken soup (if needed), remove some broth and beans and blend with immersion blender, then return it to the pot.

Add salt, pepper, honey, and lime to taste.
Serve topped with chopped cilantro and sour cream.

Bye For Now Parker!...

What a summer it’s been. Full of challenges, new opportunities and downright shenanigans. I can definitely say that I’ve learned so much and enjoyed my time here at Feldman Architecture.

From day one I dived headfirst into the professional world of architecture. Client meetings, marketing plans and renderings threw me right into the daily routine of an architect, and trust me when I say it has been an absolute blast. I had to push myself every day to think critically and creatively, to iterate, and take feedback in every project. My tasks ranged from redesigning the firm’s SketchUp libraries, project renderings and drawings, all the way to editing photos from the amazing Open House at the beginning of the summer.

Along the way I had an incredible group of people helping me learn new skills, new programs, and helping me figure out the vernacular of architecture. I learned so much about what it means to be an architect in the professional world, lessons that I’m sure will be with me and that I will treasure for the rest of my career.

Thanks again to everyone at Feldman Architecture for their unparalleled kindness and for being so welcoming, I hope to see you all again soon.

Cheers and all the best,

-Parker D. Klebahn

 

Staff Spotlight: Lindsey Theobald...

Q: Where are you from?

I’m from Napa, California, not far from here. The place I grew up has a small town feel, everybody knew everybody and everybody’s parents were friends. My house growing up was next to a creek and my sister and I used to explore it all the time. I remember my parents always going with their friends to the surrounding wineries and I would hate it and refuse to leave the car. But now it’s nice that it’s close by since I can visit often as a getaway.

Q: Where did you go to school?

Cal poly, where I studied architecture. The school is unique in that you have to declare a major when you apply, so I decided to become an architect at 17. Luckily it stuck. In my first year, I joined an optional class that was pretty computer heavy. It got into InDesign and modeling, before the advent of all the super cool modeling we use today.

I really started to enjoy my major in my 3rd year. The studios got more competitive and we all started vying for certain teachers, as it really mattered what teacher you got. In my 4th year everyone went abroad; I went to Denmark, which was amazing. Even though the school was all American, I lived in student housing with Danes. The dorms weren’t connected to the school, they were just housing for a multitude of students nearby. 5th year was thesis year and I ended up getting my favorite professor, which was great.

CalPoly always felt like a quintessential “California” school.  We biked everywhere, had big backyard BBQ house parties, hit up reggae night downtown on Wednesdays, and really enjoyed the small-town feel of SLO.  That said, studying a whole year in Europe and traveling practically everywhere throughout the continent was a welcome reprieve to the small town life I’d lived so far.  Best of both worlds.

Q: Tell me about your family.

I have a mom, dad, and sister all close by. I have two kids, eight and five with the younger one turning six in august. My husband, who’s a landscape architect, I met at Cal Poly. I’m super fortunate to have my mom drive all the way from Napa three days a week to watch my kids after school.  My family is super close, so it feels natural to have my mom and dad be a big part of my kids’ lives.  I have a big extended family too and we try to get together as much as possible, whether it’s big trips to Kauai or quick weekend trips to celebrate graduations.  We all just got back from my sister’s ranch near the Sequoia National Forest.  My kids are obsessed with my cousins’ kids, so it’s constant fun whenever we all get together.  The rest of my family is very musical, so there is always a lot of playing instruments and singing when we all get together.  I’m hoping the gift of musical talent rubs off on my kids.  Or at least singing on key.

Q: When did you first develop an interest in architecture?

I guess my interest started in high school since I declared that as my major on my Cal Poly application. I applied for biology in all other schools except that one. I don’t remember what I thought I was going to do with biology, but I think I went for architecture because it was pretty specific and it seemed to be more exciting and defined. There wasn’t the typical “I love lego” phase or anything like that. I just liked design. I never took any art classes, so I wasn’t hugely artistic but I remember my mom and I designing my room all the time; rearranging the furniture, choosing the colors, and I found that to be super fun. I was into coloring and mixing patterns, just general childlike creativity.

What kinds of projects do you most enjoy working on?

I’m not specifically interested in the size or budget necessarily, but I really enjoy working with people who are willing to take more risks and or try some cool designs rather than play it safe. I love it when clients get excited about some crazy light fixture, finish, or piece of furniture that I’ve found. It comes down to the clients, not the project type or budget, but whether or not the homeowners are going to join me in taking them down this wild path to a unique project at the end.

Q: How long have you worked at FA?

Since 2006. I was practicing architecture in San Diego before I moved here. That company has since moved to Colorado as they weren’t into SoCal politics. Besides that brief stint after college this is basically my one and done career.

Q: What makes our office unique?

I think it’s the lack of ego, which drives Jonathan to always pay close attention to who he hires. He bases a large part of his decision on personality and making sure our office culture stays collaborative, fun, and humble. He’s always done a good job of doing that. It’s more fluid now that we’re bigger than it was back then. For five years I worked with the same five people, so it’s nice to see some new faces and learn from all the new experiences and varied backgrounds they bring.

Q: What’s your favorite part about coming to work?

I’m never too bummed about the tasks I have to do or the projects I’m working on, plus the people are fun to be around. I fundamentally agree with the way we approach design and work and I don’t feel like I’m coming to some place where I have to battle against others’ opinions. The office feels like a good nurturing community. Every day I’m always finding different ways to grow that I wasn’t expecting, whether it’s focusing on helping colleagues, learning from them, or collaborating with team members.

Q: Do you have a professional role model?

Well, Patricia Urquiola kicks butt.  I took notice of her after I realized that every furniture piece or tile I was liking was of her design.  I appreciate her celebration of colors and texture.  She can be modern without having the negative connotations that occasionally go with  the term: like sleek, cold, and sterile.  She can use a huge range of colors, a multi-hued palette, and still have her pieces feel neutral and timeless.  Same with textures – her textures can be so outrageous, but on her specific pieces, they feel just right.  I also appreciate that she took her design sensibilities from architecture into product design and interiors.  She must have fun getting to design every little thing.

Another favorite of mine is John Pawson.  Quite on the other end of the spectrum from Patricia Urquiola.  His interiors are the epitome of minimal, but a minimalism that is so appealing because of the strong emphasis on materiality.  A room of his design can be empty, but it still feel inviting because of the rich materials he uses –textured concrete; smooth wood with tight detailing; and natural light softening white walls and ceilings.  The combination of pretty natural materials with crisp detailing is effective.

Q: What’s your design process like?

I’m visual, so I love looking at images of things on Pinterest or other websites. I find a lot of inspiration in images first and often ask for reference images from the client.  Then I know what look and feel we are trying to achieve.  Images are pretty effective for interior projects, which make up a large part of my work.  It’s an effective way for the client to share their vision or ideal aesthetic with me and vice versa.  Once I have a clear idea of the look and feel, I try to figure out the material palette.  I get the physical materials in front of me before moving forward. We’re constantly getting new materials for our office library that I (try to!) organize and keep up to date.  The new library is so lovely and I feel like a kid in a candy store here!

Q: What’s the nicest compliment you’ve ever been given?

My husband just told me that I’m emotionally mature.  Meaning that I am thoughtful in my reactions to others. That kind of blew me away, especially since I’m not always mature in my reactions towards him!  But, I do tend to see the best in others and that leads to more positive interactions.  I think it’s really important to give people the benefit of the doubt.  I’m an optimist!

Q: Where is your favorite spot to go in the city?

It’s different to think about because my experiences right now are through my kids. I love taking them on the ferry here and then going exploring around the city. It’s stress free! I can get a drink on the ferry and relax, plus the kids love the thrill of the ride. We are members of the Exploratorium, so we’ve spent many a weekend there.  For restaurants, I’m partial to the Presidio Social Club, especially if you get to sit on the back patio.  A glass of wine plus their fries and aioli and I’m set!

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