PHA Anniversary

September 1, 2012 marked the second anniversary of the launch of PAUL HALAJIAN ARCHITECTS. Some of the most notable developments that have occurred over the past two years lie in the realm of things that cannot be measured.  Things like:

Personal, professional and spiritual growth

·         Satisfaction with the work product

·         Excitement of getting new projects

·         Learning new technologies and better ways of doing things

When I set out to launch a solo practice two years ago, in one of the most severe economic downturns in U.S. history, I was advised by many that the fall of 2010 was absolutely the worst time to start a business.  Others, mostly consultants who did the same thing I was contemplating, said that they launched their practices in a recession and that’s the best time to start out.  After two years at it, I don’t know for sure, but maybe those whose experiences were positive were on to something.

Starting and running a practice has been exhilarating.  Often, architects complain that they don’t teach you how to run a firm in architecture school.  While true, I am not sure if one can get from a text book all one needs to know about how to start a firm, market, land work, pay bills, recruit and hire talent - all while trying to design great buildings. 

Leading up to this milestone it occurred to me that the greatest measurable sign of the health of PAUL HALAJIAN ARCHITECTS is most graphically represented by a quick look at the two iterations of business cards that I have had since the firm’s inception.  The letter “S” tells the story.  In September of 2010 the “firm” was PAUL HALAJIAN ARCHITECT.  Six months later it is PAUL HALAJIAN ARCHITECTS.  The firm went from an “I” proposition to an “us” reality and the future looks bright.  It is the “us” that speaks of the firm’s success so far.

image caption: graphic depiction of the growth from "I" to "us"

At first my wife Carolyn and I did everything, with my office located at home.  Work started coming in and I had to relocate to an office.  Architect Jamie Steinmetz came alongside early to do lots of heavy lifting, getting things up and running. Her design and technical skills are amazing, making her one of the brightest young architects in the region.  Eight months, later Architect Scott Cochran joined and shortly thereafter, Shaunt Yemenjian.  Scott is very talented and smart.  He dives right in to every project, taking ownership and making it his own with great outcomes.  Shaunt is pursuing architectural licensure and, with a Master’s degree in architecture and a Bachelor’s degree in city planning, his skill set is unique in this area.  The four of us have worked together over the years and have developed a strong collaboration that defines how we choose to practice.

image caption: view of PHA Command Central North Wing

This past summer we had the pleasure of mentoring a bright architect-in-the-making, Cassie Stevens, who is now off working on a Master’s degree in Architecture.  She embodied the apprenticeship nature of architectural practice.  She reminded us that we have all been mentored by someone to get to where we are.

Mike Pinheiro is the most recent member to join the firm.  Mike teaches Maya (a gaming design software language) at College of the Sequoias, has a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy, is passionate about architecture and is working towards licensure.

Firm culture is huge in terms of success.  One of our greatest strengths is that we share common values about our firm culture, which places importance on being passionate about architecture, veneration for the technics of building and mutual respect for one another believing that better design comes from critical dialogue.

Thanks to Carolyn, Jamie, Scott, Shaunt, Mike and Cassie, as well as those outside the firm who have supported, volunteered, cheered us on, PAUL HALAJIAN ARCHITECTS is looking forward expectantly to what lies ahead in an uncertain time.

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Copyright 2011  ©  Paul Halajian Architects