TZL 1464 (web)


MAKING AN IMPACT , from page 7

One perk many young designers get excited about is the opportunity to design through our innovation lab, OBMI NU. They get to showcase their ideas and share their designs with principals and the public in a way that often doesn’t happen until later in their profession. It’s great to see them share their perspectives and showcase their skills. However, I have found our “Career Coach” program has greatly benefited our staff and our office’s culture. Always aiming to grow with intent, we developed a mentoring program that pairs employees with a “Career Coach” who oversees their professional growth, offering guidance and strategic resources to plan and reach their professional goals. The coaches ensure their mentees take advantage of their personal and professional development funds. Often our staff attend conferences, training programs, or even cross-industry events that allow them to elevate their skill set or explore new opportunities. TZL: Tell me more about OBMI NU. What does NU stand for? How do you determine who is going to be on the NU team? How does it operate? MC: OBMI NU was born out of the inevitable shifts in the hospitality industry during the pandemic and the willingness to foster a culture of innovation focused on design excellence. We are confident our work showcases our talent and positions OBMI as competent innovators and passionate storytellers with the desire to meet the new needs of travelers. Habitare is an example of exploring a hospitality function that catered to the exploratory traveler more interested in being isolated in a unique environment most of the times not accessible by the traditional hospitality products. We wanted to create a portable, environmentally self-contained, zero footprint hotel room that meets the expectations of the ultra-luxury customer that typically visit our other projects. The team is not limited to a particular group of employees; we invite everyone in the company to join in on brainstorming and continue to work their “innovation muscle.” We believe the collaboration of talented minds leads to conceptualizing revolutionary concepts that define design’s future. TZL: What skills are required to run a successful practice? MC: Critical thinking, adaptability, and emotional intelligence. The ability to empathize, understand, and communicate effectively fosters genuine relationships and trust with employees. TZL: What do you wish you knew starting out that you know now? MC: Early in my career, I thought I was too quiet and shy to be a good leader. Now, I realize that my ability to listen, reflect, and consider an idea allows me to build trust, develop a shared understanding, and express my intent more effectively. I don’t need to be the loudest in the room to make an impact. I also wish I had known that the best leaders don’t have to have all the answers and find comfort in that. You need to be curious. You will make mistakes and learn together along the way as a team.

OBMI’s award-winning Aera concept imagines the world’s first vertical resort.

TZL: What’s your number one concern/foreseen challenge about the future of architecture? MC: Climate change and resiliency design pose a significant challenge in architecture and all industries. Our job as architects is to find solutions to mitigate the impact on our planet in construction and ongoing building operations. The OBMI team is focused on designing regenerative, resilient projects that improve the quality of the spaces where we live, work, and play. Great design makes our communities stronger, safer, and healthier while benefiting the environment. TZL: How are you balancing investment in the next generation – which is at an all-time high – with rewards for tenured staff? This has always been a challenge, but seems heightened as investments in development have increased. MC: The mentorship program allows tenured employees to create relationships and share their knowledge with those newer in their careers, which gives a sense of responsibility to invest in and educate the next generation of designers. Most recently, we created our own educational program solely focused on hospitality design. Led by OBMI, “Hotel University” offers resources on a full curriculum of subject matters related to design for hotels and resorts. As part of the program, we provide design teams exclusive access to in-person tours and conversations with experts in development, financing, wellness, and other industries. The firsthand experiences and knowledge shared with experts are invaluable. Hotel University’s courses have further allowed our designers to foster the next generation of architects through classes at the University of Miami, Boston University, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. I think this has provided our team with a real sense of fulfillment.

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