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At the age of ten I decided to become an architect. One day my fourth grade teacher asked us to write down what we wanted to be when we grew up, it was an architect from that day on. When I was growing up my father was a contractor and some of my earliest memories were watching him build my grandparents’ house. Seeing it come out of the ground as sticks of wood was a really cool experience for a kid. My dad specialized in custom residential, and taught me to read floor plans at an early age as I would study the plans in the evenings.  Buildings always fascinated me, but I had no desire to be a contractor. The summers were hot where I grew up. My father woke up too early and worked too hard in the heat, so architecture seemed more palatable to me.

Growing up influenced by residential architecture, I wanted to do something different when I graduated college. My first job out of school was working on commercial projects, which I did for several years before heading off to graduate school. During grad school at USC I worked on a multi-family housing project located in the downtown LA Arts District, and by the end of that semester it clicked. I enjoyed the project, and found it interesting to come at residential design from a larger scale and a more commercial approach. I liked thinking about how people live and the importance of the spaces they inhabit.

KFA had a booth at the USC career fair when I was looking for a job between my years in grad school. They did the work I was becoming interested in, and I was already an expert in PowerCad, the software KFA was using at the time, so I had an in. I worked at KFA that summer and by the end of it, Barbara asked me if I would consider coming back, and I did.

I’ve now been at KFA for 12 years and have worked on a wide variety of mixed-use projects. Currently I’m excited to be involved with the new Anita May Rosenstein Campus for the Los Angeles LGBT Center, a mixed-use, affordable housing and commercial office project unlike any other we’ve done, at the largest LGBT center in the world. It’s a significant achievement for the LGBT community as a whole, and as a member of the community it’s an honor to be contributing to it’s creation. From the beginning, it was important to create something that would be architecturally significant. It brings a new, iconic place to the community with an importance that extends beyond the people who are serviced there every day. It speaks to the pride that the larger LGBT community will take in this unique and visionary place.

In addition to this work, I’m working with WS communities, one of KFA’s oldest clients on the addition of over 800 housing units to downtown Santa Monica and West LA. With a team of architects and designers, we’re working toward the reshaping of the downtown through unique and thoughtful design. With over a dozen mixed-use projects under development in the downtown area, we are working hard to address the severe housing shortage in the city, as well as contributing to a more walk able and livable city through the addition of neighborhood serving retail, and residential units in the pedestrian friendly downtown; creating density where density is most beneficial and effective.

Throughout my career, one of my proudest moments was attending the grand opening of the first affordable housing project I designed at KFA. Paloma Terrace is a 59-unit family housing community, which took 8 years from beginning to end. On the day that seemed like it would never arrive, the new residents spoke at the opening ceremony about their hopes and ambitions now that had arrived at their new home. They told stories about the difficult circumstances they had endured and what moving into permanent housing meant to them. Their lives will be forever changed by the opportunity to live in that community. It was a strong reminder of how important the work is that we do.

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Growing up in L.A., I was exposed to a lot of different opportunities.  As long as I can remember, I loved drawing and making model cars and planes.  When I was young, my parents enrolled me in a summer rocket building course at the California Science Center which sparked an interest in engineering.  Later in my teenage years, I pursued engineering at a UCLA outreach program and also developed an interest in graffiti and murals.  After studying Classics for a year in college, I decided to switch majors and pursue my passion for art; taking courses in photography, sculpture, painting, and ultimately focusing on filmmaking.

In my last semester of college I took two architecture classes and instantly realized that I found my calling.  Architecture brought together my interests in history, art and philosophy through the study of buildings and structures that have cultural meaning. I enrolled in a pre-graduate summer program at CalPoly, Polmona and completed my Masters degree in their program.  I enjoy Architecture as a career that offers a creative yet practical outlet with the opportunity to shape the city in which I grew up.

Currently, I’m serving as the project manager for both phases of the PATH Metro Villas affordable housing project to house L.A.’s homeless, which includes three new buildings around a landscaped “townsquare” that will provide a total of 187 apartments with individualized supportive services.  I am also currently working on a very interesting project for a Skid Row Housing Trust called SP7, which is an 81-unit, 100 percent affordable housing for formerly-homeless individuals. My profession as an architect and my position at KFA allow me to be a part of reshaping Los Angeles.  I love driving around and seeing our work on the major boulevards and avenues of our city.

I’ve also had the opportunity to work on projects with Jamison Properties. While they are a giant in property management, they’re relatively young in terms of development.  They are in a sense creating their brand in Los Angelels and especially in Koreatown. I believe their vision is to create modern, creative environments that reflect the vibrant, diverse spirit of K-town.

For example, in Jamison’s Luna mixed-used housing development on Wilshire Boulevard, we clad edgy, crisp, modern forms in tile, metal and glass materials.  The color palette is black and white with pops of vibrant colors in an atmospheric gradient. The idea is to represent mid-Wilshire with a design that is simultaneously commercial and residential. Luna’s lighted “halo” is by far my favorite feature. Not only will it be visible up and down Wilshire Blvd, but it will also light up the bamboo landscaped roof deck appointed with fire pits, barbecues and teak-trellised cabanas. That roof offers uninterrupted views of the Griffith Observatory, the Hollywood sign and the stately architecture of the Wilshire Boulevard Temple right across the street.

Outside of work I’m on the Board of the Juan Garcia Farmworker Scholarship non-profit, founded by my family for farm worker students and I’m a part of Mosaic Church; a creative community that is engaged in the art, entertainment and thought-culture of Los Angeles.  When I think about practicing architecture in Los Angeles, I see both LA; the urban fabric and LA;  the community; formed out of relationships with family, friends, coworkers, clients and neighbors.  The most rewarding and challenging part of designing projects like Luna, PATH Metro Villas and SP7 is to design spaces for people; whether it’s to connect with others, have an intimate gathering or have time alone; we want our buildings foster a sense of community and belonging for the people who live there.

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