This Q&A is part of a series of interviews with BRP architects, designers, and others in the firm about their career journey, and the impact that architecture and design can have on our communities and the collective human experiences. Today, we sat down with Nick Rispoli to discuss exploring architectural journeys.
1. How were you first introduced to architecture and design?
In 3rd grade our class did an activity where we used blocks to design special shapes and designs. Our teacher put silhouettes on the board, and our goal was to match, or get as close to matching, the design using only cubes, then turn that into a freestanding structure. Every round I had created the silhouette differently than everyone else while using less materials. At the end of the year, our teacher gave each student an activity certificate saying what she thought we'd be when we grew up – I received architect. I looked more into it and found I really liked the idea of that career path, and it took off from there.
2. If you could impart any piece of advice to individuals beginning their design careers, what would it be?
Make mistakes and own them. Architecture and other design-based professionals are collaborative for a reason. It's the trial-and-error, the communication, and the mishaps along the way that shape the final product. If you are too afraid of messing up, you'll only limit yourself. Your team is your safety net, and in the same way they are there to help and guide you, you are their safety net with the ability to help and guide them as well.
3. What is life at BRP like?
Life at BRP is fun, challenging, and unique; and the BRP team is supportive, caring, and efficient. No architecture firm is the same, and that's okay because everyone needs a firm that fits their needs. In BRP's case, we have plenty of work to do, but we always find time to make each other laugh or to set up events for everyone. Architecture is a profession of passion, and with that you pour a lot of yourself into the drawings you create. BRP has a great group of people who will help you to craft a set of well-made documents, while helping you to take a few steps back every now and then to enjoy life. Working here I've learned a lot, and I'm happy with the career path I chose but it's even better when you're happy about where you're at and who you're walking that path with.
4. What do you believe sets your architecture firm apart from others in the industry, and what advice would you give to potential employees considering joining your team?
I believe what sets BRP apart from others is the attention to detail and the culture. Although we have templates, most details are still modeled, drawn, and detailed from scratch, there's not really any "cookie-cutter" aspects to the drawings outside of standards for company graphics. I think a lot of firms are already doing this or are moving to this because it delivers a higher level of care for a client and/or project. We are encouraged to take pride in each and every project and when your heart is invested in a project, it becomes important to you that the client is taken care of, your design intent is executed thoughtfully, and that you are comfortable with what you've put on paper. Because of the amount of work, it's easy to start feeling like your part of a production line to produce drawings and move to the next item; I've never experienced that feeling here.
For incoming applicants, I would say that you need to be prepared for a challenge. When I first started, I was told I would be thrown into the deep end of the pool, and they would see how well I could keep afloat. That was terrifying at first, but it helped the team (and me) know what I could do and couldn't yet and how I best learned. The first week is rough, but it's the best time to acclimate to the firm. It's because of this that learning feels accelerated – you are always encouraged to achieve and grow at your own pace, but anyone is available to help you when you need it. You will never be alone in architecture, and your growth should always be a priority.
5. What are some of the most rewarding aspects of your job in the architecture field? What keeps you motivated and passionate about your work?
I would say the most rewarding aspect is the final drawing set. There's nothing quite like several weeks, or months, of pouring yourself into creating a drawing set and then clicking the print button. You see the culmination of your project team's hard work and there's something about it that makes you feel happy. The second most rewarding thing is when a client says they're happy with the final product too. Generally, you're in the trenches with the client or owner while you figure out design and construction decisions, so when you hear that they're also excited about the end result it's a sign that you worked well together.
What keeps me motivated is my drive to keep learning and that I am a perfectionist at heart. I want things to work, but more importantly, I want to know why they work. I enjoy the details of how different parts and pieces come together and how that affects the final product, which only makes the final printed drawing sets even more important to me. That being said, I always want to do right by the people around me. So, the idea of creating construction drawings and working as part of a team just seems to fit, and it's part of why I enjoy coming in each day.