Q: Where are you from?
I was born just outside New York City, in a small town called Nyack. I lived there the majority of my life before leaving to go to college at the University of Colorado in Boulder. I ended up staying in Boulder for one year after school, five years in total. I then moved to Astoria Queens for four months before packing up everything and moving out west to San Francisco. I’ve been here now for a year and half.
Q: Tell me about your family
Both my parents went to culinary school and were chefs for a while. My dad started “Cater to You Food Service” which specializes in farm to table school lunches for high end schools in new tri-state area. My sister also works for his company as the head of event coordination.
My mom is a dietician who specializes in food medicine. Basically she looks at how food can be used as a substitute and how a lot of the issues that society deals with today can be cured by food rather than medicine. It’s based around the idea that if you’re eating healthy and on a specific diet you can combat or prevent diseases. She does this in conjunction with curating meal plans for students at the schools I mentioned before. She also volunteers on New York City Board of Education to teach less privileged individuals in city schools about cooking and basic nutritional facts.
Q: Please visually describe your personality
I have to think about this one… Okay imagine you walk into a hole-in-the-wall pizzeria in New York City. The place is packed but you walk through to the kitchen. You push through the door and everyone in there is yelling at each other, but not in a demeaning way, think collaboration. It looks and sounds like chaos, but organized chaos. A first glance you may get the impression that it’s loud and crazy and disorganized but in reality it’s a very methodical and orchestrated craziness that ultimately produces something desirable in the end.
Q: When did you first develop an interest in architecture?
I noticed when I was really young that most kids my age were obsessed with dinosaurs, but I was obsessed with construction. To preface this story, I was an avid snowboarder when I was a kid, but didn’t have daily access to quality snowboarding parks. I took it upon myself to build snowboard parks in my friends’ backyards as a hobby. Half the time I had no idea what I was doing, I was just a young kid screwing plywood together and making things out of it. I don’t think the experience necessarily got me into architecture, but I did develop an interest in design and building things.
As I grew older I developed even more of a passion for building. When I eventually went to college, I had a few friends in architecture related majors. I used to see their work, ask them about what they were doing, and eventually I grew an interest in it as well. It actually didn’t dawn on me until graduation that all of these things (liking construction, the snowboard parks) came full circle and built off of each other.
My passion for construction as a young child was ultimately where my interest in design stemmed from and curated through the years. It grew from an interest in construction to a love of architecture.
Q: What kinds of projects do you most enjoy working on?
Definitely detail-oriented residential. I like to curate space based off of a particular need of an individual. I believe that residential projects are the most customizable and the most interesting. They really come down to detailing and I personally find a lot of interest in how the details of a building come together.
Q: How long have you worked at FA?
Q: What makes our office unique?
For one, the office itself. Being in an old firehouse means the space has a lot of history and culture, especially for this area. It seems like it’s a pretty symbolic building in the Polk Gulch district. I like how there’s a ton of natural light in the office as well. I feel like in a lot of traditional offices there’s more of an objective towards the work rather than the space, which makes sense. But the space we work in here; it’s inspiring.
Everyone’s attitude towards each other in the office is also pretty unique, no one is trying to compete and everyone is working with each other. There’s this office bond that allows everyone to be themselves, be open to conversations, and communicate in a friendly manner. We have this ability to be professional yet causal with one another.
Lastly, the level of experience that every individual brings to the table is different. Each individual inputs their own strengths into the project but is also given the opportunity to learn something new every time.
Q: What’s your favorite part about coming to work?
Learning something new every day. In a lot of jobs, you kind of settle into a routine 8-5 position doing the same thing every day. We repeat a lot of things here, but everything that gets repeated is customized to someone’s needs. There’s always a chance to learn something new. Even through repetition, we can use that previous experience to ultimately become a better architect.
Q: Do you have a professional role model?
I have a few.
First, Olson Kundig by Jim Olson & Tom Kundig. I enjoy the level of detail that they input into all of their projects. They have an uncanny ability to look at something that’s often designed the same way and turn it over on its head in a way that’s interesting, yet simple.
I also respect MacKay Lyons-Sweetapple Architects Limited. Brian Mackay Lyons has an interesting way of looking at landscape and at how space interacts with nature and connect it to what a client is looking for. That’s not always seen in architecture. Most of his work is local to where he’s from but it’s so well developed that he’s established a name for himself worldwide.
Allied Works is the third one, they have a unique ability to define spaces. They often choose a really untraditional material palette that interacts well with whatever the space is intended for. They do it in such a manner that it doesn’t take away from the actual space, rather it’s supplemental to how it functions, which I think is really important in architecture.
Q: What’s your design process like?
Having a background in environmental design, I tend to look heavily at the site to begin with. The characteristics of the site help define the space for me. It’s kind of a trickle down method from there. I rely a lot on client feedback and intentions, meshing those two together into something schematic. From there I just continue to refine the project.
Q: What’s something you’re proud of?
I guess this a multi-faceted question. I’m proud of where I came from. I’m a “New Yorker” and I carry that with myself. One of the first things I do when I introduce myself is say I’m from New York. I think it sums up a lot of aspects about me.
I’m proud of the decisions that I’ve made as a young adult to get me to where I am today. What I mean by that is my decision to move out west with no real family out here and my decision to pursue architecture has ultimately helped me follow my aspirations.