Designer Crush: Erik Peterson of PHX Architecture

1. How did you get your start in architecture?

I joined the backstage crew at my high school during my freshman year. the productions were almost professional quality. they needed a set designer during my sophomore year and I started to do the design. by my third and fourth years I was doing all design work as well as stage direction. My big break in the career was when I moved to Phoenix and started my master’s program at ASU — the professor was also a principal at Taliesin Architects and gave me a summer internship. This lead to a full time position and was the start to my career.

2. You’re a Chicago native; how did that city’s signature architecture influence your own education and sensibility?

Chicago is most likely the greatest architectural city in the world. from Louis Sullivan to Frank Lloyd Wright – it was the birthplace for architectural innovation in america after the Chicago fire. I was constantly exposed to ts diversity and inspired by its greatness. The “Chicago School” sensibility was known for beauty in details and creativity in technology. This is a characteristic I carry with me in my work today.

3. Who were some of your mentors along your professional path and how did they help shape your career?

I have been blessed to work at only a few offices in my career, but with great mentors. Starting with Terry Farrell in London, then moving to Taliesin Architects in Scottsdale with many original apprentices of Wright, and finally under Bing Hu – a Chinese American FLLW school graduate who went on to be one of the most recognized names in Scottsdale architecture. All of these architects have helped shape my career by providing me the knowledge of materials, design with nature, and listening to clients.

4. What has been the most challenging part of running your own architecture firm over the last 17 years? the most rewarding?

The most challenging part of running a firm is learning to allow others to take some of the control – I tend to try and do everything myself and it is just not possible. The most rewarding is seeing a body of work that you and your employees have created together that help shape and define a community to be a better place.

5. How do you define ‘California style/architecture'?

California style is trendsetting. We always say that what starts in ca will eventually influence and spread into the rest of the country. It tends to be more modern and free. California design sets out to be bold and makes a statement.

6. If you could design a dream home for anyone, living or dead, who would it be, why, and what kind of residence would you build for them?

I always wanted to design Neverland for Michael Jackson. It was the ultimate client – no budgets, no constraints. If you can dream it then you can do it. and it never finished, just kept adding on and on. the ultimate goal was happiness.

7. What’s your idea of a perfect Sunday?

Spending the day hanging out with my family – no emails or phone calls – no stress. Just good eating and relaxing and laughing.

Lightning round!

8. Sugar cone or waffle cone?

Waffle.

9. Hike or bike?

Bike.

10. Skydiving: yay or nay?

Nay.

11. Tattoos: yay or nay?

Nay.

12. Friends or Seinfeld?

Seinfeld – huge mega-fan.