Paul is a designer at Shepley Bulfinch with an interest in the fabric of the urban environment. His diverse portfolio ranges in size and scale from non-profit multi-family residential, intimate homes and gardens to high-rise mixed-use developments and commercial offices. While studying at Arizona State University, he was part of the inaugural class of the Master of Landscape Architecture program and remains one of two people to complete a concurrent master’s degree in architecture and landscape architecture. Paul is always up for a challenge and looks to integrate landscape and building to the betterment of both.
Read more about how he approaches design and what he hopes for the future of the industry.
What brought you to architecture?
I actually stumbled into it. I went to college for anthropology originally. I’ve always been interested in understanding people and systems and how they have evolved throughout history. On a whim, I took a class on environmental design and was immediately captivated. I switched my major to architecture and never looked back.
How would you describe your project approach?
I consider projects from the outside in. I start with the context of the site and consider the history of the location and surrounding buildings. How the building connects to the ground influences the language of the design, which is so important to consider when designing in urban environments. You want to make sure that the community celebrates the project as equally as the client and design team. Understanding the context is just as integral to the process as talking to the owner and the community.
As someone with a concurrent master’s in architecture and landscape architecture, my focus is on a broader perspective. For example, when you are inside a building, seeing the landscape and urban fabric through a window has an instant effect on your mood and perception. So, the design of those interactions is just as critical for the overall wellbeing of the people who occupy our projects. In Phoenix, for example, it is a goal of mine to design not just for shade and comfort but to celebrate ephemeral moments, such as rain. Since it happens so infrequently, it’s appearance can dramatically change the experience of anyone in the desert and should be celebrated.
What do you do in your spare time?
I rock climb, which is a great way to get out of my head and into the moment. I also really enjoy anything artistic to clear my mind. I do some watercolor painting and illustration, but I’m most passionate about photography. My parents are amateur photographers and got me my first camera when I was in college. I took photos constantly. Now, I document how life affects architecture and how we perceive space. Wherever I am, I enjoy walking around and capturing both the architecture and the unexpected moments. Photography teaches you about the point of view of the person in space, the most important perspective in design, but also lets you highlight unexpected moments of whimsy and details.
What do you hope to see for the future of the industry?
Balance. Between time crunches and the revamped digital age, we need to find ways to reclaim some time to explore and let play happen. To be creative, we need to go experience life and bring those moments back into our work.