Architect Crush: Kevin Newman of Newman Garrison + Partners

1. How did you get your start in architecture?

My father was in the residential real estate business and during my younger years I would accompany him to job sites during weekends. I also enjoyed drawing and sketching, which became a prerequisite for my future in architecture. It became apparent by the time I entered my sophomore year of high school that this was the profession I wanted to pursue.

2. What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned since launching the firm in 2005?

I’ve learned so many important lessons since then. Firstly, I’ve grown to learn the importance of surrounding myself with really talented individuals not only within the firm, but also others who I have known for years and have looked up to as my mentors. Some of these individuals I’ve known for 30 years and are successful business owners and entrepreneurs in their own right.

Staying current with today’s technology as it relates to architecture is also crucial. We are continually looking to incorporate tools which will benefit the long term success of the firm, as well as serve our clients. As an entrepreneur, I continually look for ways to develop business opportunities. For instance, during the recession I began soliciting real estate brokers and developers in order to bring them together to do transactions. That process continues today where I’m currently working to introduce developers to several multi-family sites which may or may not include our firm’s involvement on the architectural side.

Additionally, it’s extremely important to be able to reinvent yourself and the culture of your firm as times change. It’s imperative to always be flexible enough in your business philosophy to adjust as needed, otherwise you’ll become a dinosaur and you’ll eventually become extinct.
          
Last but not least, don’t take today’s successes for granted and know that at any moment it can vanish.

3. Tell us about the decision to patent the affordable-building design concept, New Block™, for developers nationwide.

Our decision to create and patent the New Block™ design concept was a result of the continuing rise in land costs, construction and materials, which have created road blocks within the industry to develop and build a more affordable housing type within our urban neighborhoods. New Block™ is a bridge between lower density 3-story garden walk-up apartments and 4-story over podium construction typologies—a design concept that ultimately offers developers construction plans that address the constraints surrounding the maximization of density, while meeting the open space and sustainability requirements of smaller land sites at an affordable rate. After eight years of working with our patent attorneys, we’re very proud to now offer a successful green building solution to urban markets across the country and are excited for developers nationwide to be provided a unique and sustainable housing solution that addresses several critical challenges that developers face in today’s environment.

4. What’s your process for getting to know a client?

You have to be approachable and not sell yourself too much. It’s important to establish a level of trust and make sure you provide the service you say you’re going to provide. I always make it a habit to call all of my clients to check in on them periodically. This is a service-oriented business and though we all get extremely busy, I never forget to follow up with them just to check in to see how they are doing.

5. Describe one of your most memorable projects.

I would have to say my most memorable project would be the Park Landing project, where our patented New Block™ concept was used. It came to fruition during the recession and we had spent a full year pitching the concept to developers and Redevelopment Agencies throughout the US in hopes of getting it built. Finally, the city of Buena Park hired our firm to do a site study utilizing the concept on a city-owned parcel. Not long after, we presented to Jamboree Housing, an affordable housing developer who ultimately partnered with the city of Buena Park and engaged our firm to design the New Block™ concept on that very same parcel. In 2013 it was completed and to-date it has won over 10 industry awards for design excellence and sustainability along with LEED Gold for Homes Certified.

Though our firm has been involved with quite a few memorable projects, Park Landing was an exceptional opportunity, and we’re very proud of the accomplishment and the fact that it has provided essential affordable housing for 70 individual families.

6. How does NG+P adhere to sustainable building practices and why is this an important part of the business?

Our projects go beyond the minimum required by code and we strive to make certain our clients know the benefits of an environmentally friendly and energy efficient design. It’s important to our clients because their end users and buyers are educated in energy efficiency and sustainability and they expect to have these features integrated into their homes.

7. Describe your ideal vacation.

Spending a vacation with my wife traveling to various destinations around the world. We enjoy Europe and tropical locations, not to mention NYC, which we visit at least once or twice a year, just to get a jolt of energy!

Lightning round!

8. Pancakes or waffles?

Pancakes.

9. Beach or mountains?

Beach.

10. Netflix or night out?

Need a little of both.

11. Classical or class rock?

Classic rock injected with current artists.