Every day we spend our lives going in and out of various buildings. Very few of us ever really wonder what went into the actual space we are in; how the design came together, how long it took, or what materials were used. That is because not all of us think like an architect or even know one. Joseph Spierer runs his own Architect company, Joseph Spierer Architects, Inc., out in Southern California and even he did not meet an architect until he was in college. That meeting wound up changing the course of his life. He says, “I had not even considered architecture until then. I grew up knowing that I had aptitudes for art, science, math, and 3-dimensional thinking. Once I discovered architecture, I loved it and never looked back.”
After many years of hard work, he has built up a strong team of architects and, like he said, has never looked back. Many do not see architects as artists, but they truly are. A building is more than a space to occupy, it is an idea brought to life, which is what all great art is. Below is more from this creative mind.
Kendra: Can you remember the first building that sparked your interest in design?
Joseph Spierer: The early works of Santiago Calatrava sparked my interest immediately. He uses organic shapes and integrates structure in his buildings which create a beauty unlike any other. It was his work that gave me my early inspiration.
Kendra: You spent your life in the LA area learning at firms in SoCal and then starting your own company. Is there anything super particular to that region in terms of design that you learned when you were coming up?
Joseph Spierer: Southern California has some of the best weather on the planet. Not having to worry about the extremes in weather allows us to design freely with openness and natural light. Glass and indoor-outdoor spaces allow us to embrace the sunny views and landscapes inherent to the region.
Kendra: When did you feel it was time to start your own company?
Joseph Spierer: Even before I went into architecture I always wanted to start a business. The right time for me to begin a practice was right when I received my architecture license. I began to go out and projects immediately when that happened, and have not looked back since.
Kendra: How is building the foundation of a solid team similar to that of a new construction project?
Joseph Spierer: Who an architect surrounds himself with can make or break a project. The actual architectural design is only a small piece of the puzzle in the greater scope of the project. We may engage up to 15 consultants throughout the design process which we will coordinate. The coordination process is almost like a dance in that it must be well choreographed and seamlessly timed.
Kendra: Now architecture’s a career in which you’re allowed to be super creative but at the same time, you have to take into account what’s practical for space, safety and so on. How do you balance the creativity with the practicality of a design?
Joseph Spierer: That takes many years of practice and a few very specific aptitudes. Our process before starting a project includes an extensive interview with the client along with a great deal of image review. The interview assists us in starting the practical portion of the process or the image review and idea boards assist in the design. From there it takes many hours to create something that satisfies all aspects of every need and requirement.
Kendra: You deal with both residential and commercial buildings; which of those goes faster from conception to breaking ground?
Joseph Spierer: The speed of the project depends entirely on the scope, the particular client we are working with, and that local jurisdiction. Both commercial projects and residential projects can take varying amounts of time. The key to these projects is managing client expectations. We typically know at the onset of the project how long the project will take. Our clients feel more comfortable understanding the project duration and the reasons behind it.
Kendra: What is coming up for you and Joseph Spierer Architects, Inc. as a whole?
Joseph Spierer: We are currently working on a spectacular home on the bluffs of Palos Verdes Estates, overlooking the water, right on the edge of a cliff, this project has glass walls and large sliding glass doors that blend the interior and the exterior. I could not be more excited about it.