Welcome to this month’s installment of the Finegold Alexander Staff Spotlight, where our staff shares their stories and offer inspiration. This month we are featuring Designer Kyle Martis. Kyle is a talented designer who recently earned his Master of Architecture from Northeastern University. Kyle brings experience in both interior architecture/design and healthcare architecture, which he refined through a study abroad semester in Berlin and two co-ops in New York City. He holds a passion for adaptive reuse as well as sustainability, which he helps promote to the office as a member of the office sustainability group.
Q: What inspired you to become an architect?
Kyle: Well, now that I think about it, so much in my childhood led me down this path in architecture. I can pick out an architectural aspect that’s present in so many of my interests, many of which I still carry with me to this day. Growing up on Long Island and taking little excursions into New York with my family made me grow fond of the urban environment. The variety of stadiums has always been one of my favorite parts of watching sports. I couldn’t go on a trip to Disney World without investigating how it all worked when I got home. Many architects would likely cite LEGOs, and so would I!
Q: Are there any architects that inspire you in your design process or inspired you to become an architect?
K: If I could pick a single event that initially piqued my interest in architecture, it was in the 5th grade, when my mom and I accompanied my aunt on a trip to Arizona. We visited Taliesin West, and I was so inspired by the way it integrated into the environment, utilized natural materials, and how every part of the design was considered, from the furniture to the windows. I’ve been a big Frank Lloyd Wright fan since! My favorite building is probably the Guggenheim Museum in New York, which coincidentally isn’t far from where I would later go to high school, Regis High School in the Upper East Side.
“We visited Taliesin West, and I was so inspired by the way it integrated into the environment, utilized natural materials, and how every part of the design was considered, from the furniture to the windows. I’ve been a big Frank Lloyd Wright fan since!”
Q: Can you reflect on your experience and studies at Northeastern?
K: Northeastern was a wonderful experience that I consider myself really lucky to have had. The 5-year undergraduate program had me spend two separate semesters on co-ops, which are basically full-time internships that happen between regular semesters. I spent both of mine in New York, one at a firm called Ageloff and Associates and another at NBBJ. These co-ops granted me diverse and engaging work experience, which was invaluable to my professional growth and had me return to school a more rounded designer. The architecture program also integrated a study abroad semester in Berlin. I really don’t know if I would have studied abroad otherwise so I’m grateful to have had this experience in a really interesting city before it was replaced in the program. It was such a treat to see things like the Bauhaus building firsthand and travel a bit in Europe to places like Oslo.
Q: You joined us as an intern this past spring. Can you reflect on that experience?
K: Working as an intern at Finegold Alexander in the spring was an amazing opportunity! Starting a job remotely had its own challenges, but it helped having already been so used to attending classes on Zoom. I had a lot to manage between working, classes, schoolwork, and my TA position at Northeastern with the freshman architectural representation course, but it was so worth it! Everyone at FAA made me feel welcome from the very first day, which is really saying a lot given the virtual nature of my internship. It meant so much to have people from across the office check in during the first few weeks and throughout my internship, knowing how tough working remotely can be. I feel like my skills as a designer grew as well – getting back into the swing of Revit and picking up Sketchup have been great supplements to the skills I came in with.
Q: Do you have any favorite projects that you have worked on so far?
K: I spent most of my time as an intern working on a project located on Isabella Street with Erin Flaherty and Josephine Penta. It’s an adaptive reuse project, turning an old church into apartments, and it was a pleasure watching it progress over the few months I spent working on it! My favorite part of the project was having the opportunity to model some options for crystalline glass bays in Sketchup. It’s a pretty significant design move for the project, and it was an honor being able to iterate and participate in the decision-making process with the team. It was excellent to feel very involved with the project both as an intern working remotely and as someone with an interest in adaptive reuse and restoration.
“It was an honor being able to iterate and participate in the decision-making process with the team. It was excellent to feel very involved with the project both as an intern working remotely and as someone with an interest in adaptive reuse and restoration.”
A: If you could give advice to a young designer, what would you say?
K: As someone who is just graduating from architecture school myself, I would tell a young designer to always be willing to expand your breadth of design knowledge. It’s fair to trust your own interests and inclinations as a designer, but I would say it’s just as important to always be open to different things both in school and in your career. My two co-ops were in the fairly specific realms of interior architecture and healthcare architecture. Both were enriching experiences, instilling a respect for the human scale and teaching me to apply my design sense in new ways. FAA offers yet another challenge, emphasizing the need to approach a site with the appropriate sensitivity while equally encouraging us to forge ahead more sustainably. Learning how to engage with and navigate these kinds of challenges, whether in school or in work, can only serve you positively as you grow as a designer.
Stay tuned for another Staff Spotlight next month!