AD Interviews: Aaron Jobson / Quattrocchi Kwok Architects

Credit: Technical Imagery Studio

Designing Educational districts is certainly a challenging topic for every architecture firm. In line with this topic, we would like to introduce you a California based firm who is committed to helping California school districts harness the power of the sun to generate renewable energy.

Founded in 1986, Quattrocchi Kwok Architects provides thoughtful collaborative design services to the clients they serve. They offer responsive design work that supports those who use the facilities they create through client centered design, human scale, innovation, sustainable practices and the willingness to stretch our imaginations to suit the needs of their clients. QKA’s diverse portfolio reflects our commitment to design that responds to use, climate and the community.

With a staff of 47, Quattrocchi Kwok Architects has provided design services for over $850 million of public and private projects. This experience includes master planning, new construction, renovations and historical restoration. While their experience is varied, each project shares a common goal: The facility must meet the needs and wishes of all the users.

Following this introduction, we would like to present you a recent interview we conducted to Aaron Jobson, AIA, LEED AP at Quattrocchi Kwok Architects. Aaron was selected as a Top 40 Under 40 professional in the A/E/C industry by national publication Building Design + Construction. Aaron is in good company–BD+C refers to this group of 40 professionals as “some of the brightest stars in the AEC universe”. This commendation follows Aaron’s previous award as Top 40 Under 40 by the North Bay Business Journal.

Credit: Technical Imagery Studio

For you, what is architecture?

For us Architecture is about creating an environment that supports and invigorates the human experience.  We have a very program centric view of Architecture.  Our motto has always been that the building must meet the needs of its users.  We design Educational facilities, so our focus is on creating dynamic educational environments that support the educational program, promote sustainability and encourage social interaction.

How important is innovation to your practice?

It is important to always be moving forward and finding better ways to do things.   This includes improving our technical expertise, re-thinking the way we design to embrace sustainability, incorporating technology into the learning environments we design and changing the way we work to take advantage of innovations such as Building Information Modeling and Integrated Project Delivery.   We actively look for ways to improve how we do things to create more successful and sustainable Architecture and to better serve our clients.

How important is networking for you?

Networking is very important for our business.  Much of our work comes through repeat clients and referrals.  The educational facilities community is a close knit group and we find that participating in conferences, seminars and other industry events is a great way to stay in touch with existing clients and to find new opportunities.

Credit: Technical Imagery Studio

How important is the Internet for your practice?

The internet is a vitally important part of our practice.   Most of our communication with clients, consultants and other partners is through e-mail.  We also use the internet as a collaboration tool to exchange ideas, drawings and models with our design teams.  Most of our research into building products, systems and solutions is also done on-line.  Increasingly, the internet is also a vital tool for marketing and business development.  We find most of our RFQ/RFP’s on-line and actively maintain our website and blog as outreach tools.

How has your office benefited with the use of digital technologies?

We were a fairly early adopter of BIM, implementing ArchiCAD on all projects in 2005. We have seen a number of benefits from this change including more design creativity and flexibility, better collaboration and communication, more sophisticated presentation techniques, and in the end, we think, better Architecture. We have also positioned ourselves as an industry leader in the adoption of BIM, presenting at conferences and consulting for government and educational institutions.

How was the transition from physical to digital?

QKA has incorporated digital technology almost from the firm’s inception 25 years ago, so the more challenging transition for us has been from traditional 2D design methodologies to 3D BIM.  Although this transition has been by no means easy, we have made it relatively smoothly.   Key to the successful transition was having support from the top of the organization and recognizing that BIM was not just a change in software but an opportunity to fundamentally improve the way we work.  We also made an investment in training and customization of the software at the beginning of the transition that continues to pay off for us.

Which software do you use and why?

When we made the switch to BIM in 2005 we underwent an open, comparative selection process to find the software that worked best for us. The things that were important to us were real world capability, support, interoperability, licensing structure and flexibility. ArchiCAD came out of that evaluation as the software that best met our needs. We have been very happy with our decision. The support we have received from Graphisoft, our local re-seller and our independent consultant has been fantastic and is an important reason we have been successful in our transition. We have been beta testers for new versions of ArchiCAD for the past four years and continue to work with them to develop and test innovative new features in the software. ArchiCAD continues to improve and we continue to believe that it is the best solution for us.

Disclosure: Graphisoft is one of our partners, sponsor of our Software section.

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Cite: Graphisoft. "AD Interviews: Aaron Jobson / Quattrocchi Kwok Architects" 09 Aug 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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