USOA Alumni Victor Chavez and Hooman Akhtari Put a "Nimble" Spin on Architecture and Design

By UM News

USOA Alumni Victor Chavez and Hooman Akhtari Put a "Nimble" Spin on Architecture and Design

By UM News

During our time at U-SoA, we recognized each other as resourceful, diligent, hard-working, passionate, and forward-thinking, while at the same time identified in each other qualities that we knew complemented us well. We understood it was important to get some experience working in diverse offices with a varied practice; however, we were also certain that we would soon rejoin forces and begin our own practice. With so many of our most inspiring professors having their own practice, there was never a doubt in our minds that this was the way to go. At school, one forges the strongest friendships, not only because of the time spent together, but because people come together without personal hidden interests in each other.

Having said that, having energy and dreams without action leads nowhere good. As our admired Anatole France said, "To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe." With limited resources (time and money), we had to be really efficient in our operation. When we began to create our work opportunities, we envisioned making use of "excess capacity" we observed in order to operate in a lean manner. Our idea was to bring only the necessary team together for the task at hand, and do so at the speed of light. We think about this as a very nimble approach.

  • How has Urban Resilience / Sustainability shaped Nimble Design's values and impact? 

Our operation itself is very lean. We were able to set our physical office in a sort of self-made, shared environment where we share resources. Part of our workflow involves being as digital as possible to minimize our footprint.

A lot of our early projects revolved around a larger construction project. It is incredible to see the amount of waste generated and inefficiencies caused due sometimes to capricious design. We have a strong commitment to thinking through the effect of our architecture on resources consumed through construction methods, specifications, and design. In addition to that, on many of our projects we have found valuable use for materials and fixtures that otherwise would've been disposed.

  • How has Healthcare in Design influenced your practice? 

A must-read is the first of Vitruvius' Ten Books on Architecture (or perhaps pay attention on Professors HernandezPenabad, or Wheeler's class). The book was probably written around 20 B.C., and opens up with a chapter on the education of the architect. Even back then (when the professions were not yet as specialized as they are today), the importance of a breath of knowledge to practice our profession was recognized, but not the difficulty of also having depth of knowledge. For us, comfort zone and architecture just don't rhyme. Architecture is about exploring, about inventing -- trying something else. There is actually a great video (which we'll link below) from Mexican architect Michel Rojkind whom we had the pleasure to meet thanks to an SOA lecture where he very eloquently explains this point. (LINK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yul3qp6XLYM)

  • As an entrepreneur, what was your most important take-away from U-SoA? 

The U-SoA lecture series and the special programs are, with their great guests and content, an invaluable addition to the academic program. To point one out specifically, we would refer to a program during entrepreneurship week where a rep from Alloy, LLC of NYC was a guest on campus. From further research on this company, we discovered that its founders and its vision led to more knowledge and finding more fuel to keep pushing when the going gets hard, and to learn to see value beyond pure aesthetics. This is sort of an indirect lesson, but one nonetheless that we wouldn't have had had it not been for the great minds attracted to the U. (Recommended book: https://www.architecture.yale.edu/publications/8-perspecta-47)

Closing thoughts: 

Another thought that we love is by Anais Nin: "Dreams pass into the reality of action. From the actions stems the dream again; and this interdependence produces the highest form of living." When you are passionate about what you do, no matter if you are an employee or an entrepreneur, you are always driven to do more, to learn more, to accomplish more, and this is progress and progress is happiness. If you do what you do best with the people you love, there is no afternoon slump. Simply put, as our favorite professor Gerald DeMarco always says, "Time flies when you're having fun!"