Tuesday, June 20 2017

Partner Spotlight: Jonathan Watts, AIA, Partner

Partner In-Charge, Ivy Station

Q2 2017_Partner Spotlight Image

My passion for Architecture stems from growing up as the son of an architect in northern England. I would work in my father’s office making blue line prints, refilling ink pens, doing site surveys in the driving rain and visiting job-sites with my father. I loved then, and I still love now, the people, the process and the influence of design and construction on the community. There is art and science, as well as a lot of dreaming, arguing and communication, that goes into every project. At each step of the way, I love the cumulative nature of the process, the working of a collaborative team towards a common goal and the satisfaction of happy clients.

Design is the single greatest value we, as architects, bring to our clients and our communities. It must have both leadership and collaboration, can be messy and fun, but it must respond to critical questions of location, climate and the client’s program. I believe we all, architects and non-architects alike, know great design when we see it. That is the magic of working on design and in a business that values design.

I design by hand, using pens, pencils and watercolors, not only because I have deliberately stayed away from computers, but also because I believe it is the best way to arrive at a solution with flow, integrity, good proportions and the right feel for the site. Of course, there are lots of architects who produce brilliant work on computers, but I enjoy the speed, the fun and the artistry of hand drawing—and I think some of our clients enjoy it also.

I have been very lucky over the past four years to work on Ivy Station, in Culver City, which is one of those projects that you just hope comes along once or twice in your career. At my previous firm, Tom Wulf at Lowe Enterprises invited me to form a team and enter a competition for the 5.5-acre site at the Culver City light rail station. This was a chance to design a real TOD adjacent to a busy stop in a City that is motivated to approve and back a great design. We won with a master plan that emphasized the pedestrian over the vehicle and created a large, public park right next to the station. When I came to KFA the project came with me thanks to the strength of the KFA team. We are now completing construction documents and nearing the start of a 3-year construction period which will produce one of the great TOD projects in California, knit Culver City together and create a place for community to flourish. One thing you learn very quickly as a partner, you are nothing without a talented team of smart people around you.