Q: In your role as a Senior Project Manager in ZCA’s Urban Architecture Studio, you have been deeply involved in the management of some of the firm’s most complex projects. For example, Autry Tower just reached the exciting topping out milestone as the first phase in Hanover’s impressive Autry Park mixed use development. What does that role mean to you as an architect with a significant part in a large project team?
DS: I think the old adage of the architect being the quarterback of the team describes the project managers role pretty well. As projects become more and more complex it is increasingly beneficial to have multiple specialized consultants that bring their unique knowledge to the team. Clients look to the architect to manage all the members of the team and ensure their scope of work is integrated in the design and coordinated in the documents. Autry Tower was unique in that Michael Hsu Office of Architecture was brought on for design of the ground floor retail facades. This design collaboration was critical to establish a consistent design character at the pedestrian level of each building across the entire mixed-use development.
Q: We call the type of development like Autry Park an Urban Village. Why is creating urban villages as part of developing a city like Houston so important?
DS: Well, it goes back to placemaking. In order to create a vibrant city, I think it is important to have places for people to gather and interact – places that would draw people to them as a destination. The mix of uses at Autry Park centered on a signature green space is the perfect recipe for placemaking. The residential component is key for the urban village since it creates built in pedestrian activity for the retail, restaurants, and the park. The central greenspace is a vital feature as well, providing a focal point for the development and a place where people can linger as they take a stroll or read a book on a park bench or soak up sun on the lawn. At a time when people have been siloed for so long due to COVID, I feel this development is emerging at exactly the right moment to satisfy pent-up demand for socializing.
Q: As a busy and successful professional with a young family, how do you manage to create a work-life balance?
DS: That’s an easy question! As much passion as I have for what I do as an architect, I’ve always felt that my number one job is as a husband and a dad. I might not always be right on time for dinner every evening – architecture is not always a nine-to-five job – but when I’m with my family, I really make an effort to be present, to disconnect and just enjoy time with them.
Q: What do you like to do when you aren’t at work, and why is that important to you?
DS: As a family, we really enjoy traveling as much as we possibly can. I love seeing and experiencing new places especially the local food. For me it’s so important to get away, make family memories and enjoy life.