My mother was a dancer and choreographer. She ran a community theatre on the Jersey Shore and often cast me in productions. That might have been the first clue that the power of shared experiences in the public realm would be a passion of mine, but I didn’t realise it was a career path.
I might have been a concert pianist in another life. I played piano until the age of 18. I was talented, but I knew I just didn’t have it in me to pursue music professionally so I went to architecture school. After graduating from Syracuse University and studying abroad for a year at the Architectural Association in London, I worked as an intern for the lighting designer Roger Morgan. Working for him helped me realise that I could pursue and combine my passions for architecture and theatre.
Architecture has changed enormously since I started working. In just the last decade, everything from construction methods to building materials to the ways people use space has shifted. We’ve seen the rebirth of Ground Zero, the rise of Instagram and social media’s influence on design, and the collapse of important historic architecture – from the fire at Notre Dame to the demolition of one of the largest surviving sections of the Berlin Wall. The list goes on. In our own corner of the world, I think we’ve seen a turn towards the personalisation of spaces: people want unique, memorable experiences rooted in their context and this has influenced how we think about all of our projects. There’s also been a deeper commitment to architecture for social good – affordable housing, accessible public services, sustainable building practices, and so on.