Very Early Start
I was born in Northern New Jersey to my amazing Polish immigrant parents who had moved to the USA to start a family and new lives. My dad, a self-taught “jack of all trades,” bought a home and immediately started the renovation. Mid-way thru the construction, I was born. As my mom tells it, I was brought home on a cold night in February, and my dad was frantically trying to install all the windows so the house could be properly heated. So actually, my first home was a construction site!
From my father’s influence and work ethic, I always enjoyed taking things apart and building. For my first job I worked with a small local contractor who was looking for an assistant. I worked my way up from the clean-up and “go get that, kid” job to the cut man and the carpenter’s assistant. I then continued to work as many jobs as I could in all facets of construction, from home building to commercial, from wood framing to steel work. I always loved going to work and learning a new installation technique or working with a new material or tool. I still love doing that to this day.
My interest in construction led me to high school drafting classes. With fantastic influences like teacher Martin Wall, I went from doing basic drafting to drawing house layouts. This interest pushed me to attend architecture school at New Jersey Institute of Technology, where I graduated with a Bachelors degree in architecture as well as a Masters in construction management. With a great grasp on construction I was able to excel and really dive into the design aspect of architecture understanding spaces and styles. College also gave me a great understanding of the engineering behind all the buildings and machinery we build, which helps me keep my designs well grounded.
Starting out in the job force, I decided that with my degree I should find a nice cushy office job at an architecture firm. I started working at a well-established firm in NJ, which mainly focused on government funded projects. However the cushy office did not last once the firm discovered my understanding of construction, and my ability to deal with contractors. I soon became the “on site guy” attending site meeting and dealing with the firms ongoing projects as well as designing and drawing new projects . The real benefit of this firm was that they had all the engineering in house, so I was able to work closely with mechanical, electrical and civil engineers to truly understand all those aspects and be able to draw and specify them.
Making a Change
I grew tired of dealing with government work and later held several jobs at smaller firms ranging in all types of Architecture. I then landed a job with a small design firm where one of the partners was a family friend. The firm specialized in high end restaurant design and I immediately fell in love with the complexity of the projects. From the kitchen engineering, to how servers bring in and out food, to making the diners experience comfortable and enjoyable restaurants are extremely complicated. So I continued at this firm as the one and only in house architect and field representative.