The Second Studio Podcast: Interview with Jonathan Feldman

The Second Studio (formerly The Midnight Charette) is an explicit podcast about design, architecture, and the everyday. Hosted by Architects David Lee and Marina Bourderonnet, it features different creative professionals in unscripted conversations that allow for thoughtful takes and personal discussions.

A variety of subjects are covered with honesty and humor: some episodes are interviews, while others are tips for fellow designers, reviews of buildings and other projects, or casual explorations of everyday life and design. The Second Studio is also available on iTunes, Spotify, and YouTube.

This week David and Marina are joined by Jonathan Feldman, Architect, and Founding Partner and CEO of Feldman Architecture to discuss studying astronomy and English prior to architecture; taking on new clients; his office’s beginnings and evolution; key ideas for implementing sustainable design; and more.

Highlights & Timestamps

Jonathan’s background (00:00)

The Feldman Architecture studio process (13:49)

In this world where everybody has so much access to images online, so many people gravitate towards that final solution that they like, that resonates. To me that can be very dangerous to me… to be too attached to something too specific early on. We want to be very vague and as broadly open-minded as we can. We want to be a blank slate going into a project and just be listening and observing the client, the program, and the context, of course. (14:38)

The process of screening clients (16:17)

Finding the compatible client to me is the make or break talent and survival skill in my world. So it’s, “How do you have conversations and find people who you can align with both in terms of values of what you want to create and whether you think it's appropriate and exciting?” Projects are something you're going to put this huge amount of energy into. [You do not want to] be butting heads or trying to change minds or turn them into a different person along the process, because that’s never going to be satisfying for anybody. (16:38)

How Jonathan transitioned into architecture school. (38:12) 

Jonathan’s experience post graduation and first architectural project. (50:45) 

I do fundamentally believe you learn more from doing things than from sitting around talking about them or doing theoretical exercises. It was a very hands-on experience doing those early projects like my parent's house. It really allowed me to understand stuff that was jammed into my head in graduate school, but that I had no idea how useful it would be later. At the same time, I'd say the technical education that I got in architecture school was pretty light. (58:18)

How Jonathan started his own practice. (01:00:50) 

How the office has evolved over time. (01:03:23) 

There's just a lot on an architect’s shoulders in a project, and you know, I was always the big idea person…But the rigor of building drawings, a drawing set of construction documents, and the detail oriented-ness of the follow-through and all of that stuff was always kind of frightening and I always felt a little bit like an imposter. So bringing in people who were really good at those things was just very comforting, very empowering. (01:04:21)

Implementing sustainable design. (01:25:55) 

Whatever commitment you can get the client to make [regarding sustainable design]. Is a good thing. Don't judge it. Just take it because it's an add. It's a better version of the process if we're all just committing to that because those things fall by the wayside when things get stressful. (1:41:37)

Check out The Second Studio Podcast's previous editions.

About this author
Cite: The Second Studio Podcast. "The Second Studio Podcast: Interview with Jonathan Feldman " 24 Jul 2022. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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