Monday, June 19 2017

Meet the Ivy Station PM: Monica Rodriguez, AIA, Senior Associate

Q2 2017_Monica montageThis is my personal love story with Los Angeles expressed through projects that I’ve worked on at KFA.

I am a native Angelino and was born in Boyle Heights. My teenage and college years were spent working in my parents’ Mexican fast food restaurant.  So, when Barbara and Wade asked me to work on the design of Café Gratitude in Venice as my first solo KFA project, I was over the moon excited. It was a small restaurant tenant improvement project at 512 Rose, a then newly constructed mixed-use housing development designed by KFA.  For me, working on Café Gratitude was like “playing restauranteur.”  It was a lot of fun! When this restaurant comes up in conversations with friends I say, “That’s my project!

My latest completed KFA project, Hollenbeck Terrace, was quite a jump in size and responsibility for me professionally.  The former Linda Vista Community Hospital across from Hollenbeck Park is one of the most iconic historical landmarks in Boyle Heights.  The days of it being old and dilapidated are in the past, and it is now home to 120 low-income seniors.

A couple years ago at a fundraising event at Hollenbeck, one of the guest speakers was a future tenant.  She shared her story of being homeless and living out her car for several years. I happened to run into her later that day on the 2nd floor, where she was about to get a peak of her new home.  I will never forget her reaction walking into her apartment for the first time.  She couldn’t believe it.  She was so filled with emotion that she couldn’t speak, and was excited to be able to call Hollenbeck Terrace home.  That was the single most humbling and inspiring moment I’ve ever experienced in my life as an Angelino, as a woman, and as an architect.

As I have grown into a more well-rounded architect and project manager, the projects I’ve worked on have also grown in terms of size and magnitude.  The current chapter of my L.A. love story focuses on the future Ivy Station in Culver City adjacent to the LA Metro Expo Line Station.

TOD projects like Ivy Station and other large campus design projects at KFA are paramount and necessary to the development of Los Angeles and its surrounding communities.  My favorite Ivy Station design element is the 1.5-acre public park, which will become a great meeting space for public events and daily outdoor activities for residents and neighbors.

Throughout my years at KFA, I have been nurtured and mentored to become a better person on top of being a good architect. From learning by example, I am paying it forward by volunteering as a mentor to inner city elementary and junior high school students.  I hope these kids are inspired to create their own journey, to dream big, to never give up, and to go after whatever will make their lives full.  My love for LA has grown thanks to being a part of the KFA family.