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Armando Ramos

Armando Ramos

Director and Architect, FREE NYC

With more than 19 years of experience, Armando has lived and practiced in 4 different countries and 7 different cities. He is an architect with experience as a designer, developer, sales and marketing director, and business development and BIM coordinator. His expertise involves the design, execution, and coordination of international projects of widely varying scales. Armando’s main interests are new building design and delivery methods, and searching for new solutions that promote the interaction of cultures, building bridges between them.

He has explored prefabricated construction systems, social housing, and the cultural relationships and the social impacts surrounding each.

In a globalized world, collaboration is essential to any project – the rules have changed in how we design, deliver, build and manage projects. Recently he has devoted energy to understand and try to change how architects and designers interact with one another in an industry that has been somewhat left behind in our technological era. He thinks our design culture does not seem to fully take advantage of all of the new technologies available to us. We have the tools, now we need to develop the know-how and the culture.

“Every single project, you’re thinking of something that’s never been done. You’re starting the project from zero. You’re trying to communicate about all these components, sometimes with people that you’ve never worked with before. Try to get as much experience as possible in every single part of our field. Be flexible — don’t stay in one place. Do everything that you can, from model making to drafting to 3D work to parametrics to roles like marketing and business development, project management. It’s a very complex career. And you get to be good at all these things.” — Armando Ramos


Albert Wang

Master of Architecture, 2011

I graduated from New School with an M.Arch in 2011 and was fortunate to find a position at WJW Architecture in Chicago. Our firm specializes in affordable housing, senior’s housing and dementia care, and housing for people with disabilities and special needs. While we mainly work in Illinois and the Midwest region, we have projects throughout the country.

A few of the recent projects I’ve worked on include the renovation and expansion of the Marillac St. Vincent Social Center – a renovation of a community center that provides social services for early childhood and youth education, adult employment and financial assistance, senior services, and a food pantry. “Renaissance on Main,” a mixed-use building in Williston North Dakota. “Travanse Senior Living” in Grayslake, a 104 unit assisted living and memory care community. And currently on my desk in the works is a 62 unit independent senior apartment building in the Construction Administration phase. In the Design Development phase, I have 54 unit affordable housing with retail development in Chicago, and an adaptive reuse of a high school into 42 units of independent senior apartments in Paris, Illinois. And in the Construction Documents phase, I’m working on an adaptive reuse of an abandoned Chicago hospital, transforming it into a 193 unit affordable senior living building. The building will be a mix of 119 supportive living units, and 74 affordable independent senior apartments.

This past year we also contributed to the Chicago Biennial “Between States” exhibition which showcased community-based solutions to transform underperforming and underappreciated spaces in Chicago. We looked at several open infill lots along Sacramento Blvd. in Chicago’s 27th Ward, and envisioned an extension of Chicago’s historic Park Boulevard system (originally developed by Frederick Law Olmsted). This “Peace Boulevard” would physically link two social service providers that we’ve worked with in the past – one that serves Chicago’s veterans and one that provides social services to the underprivileged, and in doing so our intervention would link together the staggering number of victims of violence in Chicago to our combat veterans who both suffer from PTSD. The Boulevard, in partnership with these organizations, would become a therapeutic landscape that reclaims unused land to become a “church without walls”. A link to our project board can be found here.

NSAD gave me a strong foundation in how to be critical, and how to approach problems and design challenges. You can’t learn everything in school nor are you exposed to enough in the early stages of your experience to place your education in a meaningful context. But what NSAD did expose me to were processes of problem-solving that engage both theoretical positions and very technical methodologies. At WJW Architecture we’re small enough that every staff member is heavily involved in every aspect of the building design and construction process. My 6 years at WJW seems like a natural progression from NSAD. Working here has taught me how to get ideas actualized by learning about the other sides of architecture – construction, sequencing, detailing, and even the mechanisms of financing and development. That lends itself to a very knowledgeable and capable group of individuals that allows us to take on big projects and complex programs with relatively small but effective teams. Working in that kind of environment nurtures a sense of ownership for the projects we’re involved in, and thus I can with great pride say that I’ve taken part in providing several hundreds of units of affordable housing and supportive senior housing for people in need.

If I were to give any advice to current students it would be to give more attention to who you’re designing for. After you graduate, you won’t be designing to impress other architects, you’ll be designing for humans, citizens, people whose dignity and worth should be respected and elevated through design. Care about the nuts and bolts of how a user uses the space, not just about some beautifully crafted diagram, or using the most cutting edge material. Care about the resident living in the home, the elderly person’s desire to live an active and fulfilling life in their senior community, the disabled citizen just trying to get into the building. Care about them more than the “Image” of your building. You’ll be taking part in making something that is real and tangible, and therefore also something that has consequence. It is exciting to be at the table at the project’s inception, and even more exciting to be at the grand opening to see how much impact your building or space has on someone else.

Lastly, learn about things other than Architecture. If the only thing you know is buildings and design, then you’re out of touch with the reasons why both of those things matter.

Photographs below by Darris Lee Harris.


Athena Dadiz

Bachelor of Arts in Architecture, 2014
Master of Construction Management, 2015
How did you hear about NewSchool?

Google! In high school, I was involved in a community service outreach program in the South Pacific and I wanted to study architecture. I was living in New York and Googled “architecture schools in San Diego” and found NewSchool. I later visited the school and was hooked when I saw the studios filled with students making architectural models!

What was your favorite aspect of attending NewSchool? What was your favorite memory?

Hands down the faculty. George Welch and the rest of the faculty were amazing. My favorite memory was the first year we went to the ASC Reno Student competition. NewSchool had never gone before 2013 and our team took first place in the Virtual Design and Construction category.

What projects are you currently working on?

Right now, I’m working on a $120 million high rise downtown called Shift, in East Village. It’s a full city block, podium construction, 21 stories high, with a pool on the roof.

What has been your biggest accomplishment?

My biggest personal accomplishment was going back to the ASC Reno competition with my employer. I got to work with a team to write the scope of the problem statement in the Design-Build category. It really came full circle and I got to experience it from the other side of the table. Another accomplishment is that my first project out of school finished 3 months early – it was a big deal!

What advice would you give to someone starting out?

Network and look for a mentor – it doesn’t always have to be a formal platform. Look for people who you can go to when you have an issue. Also, work on defining your own voice and building confidence in professional situations. Even if you don’t know something, you can find the answer to it.

Bryn Young

Hometown: San Diego, California

Why did you choose to study architecture?

I love architecture and have dreamed of being an architect.

What makes earning a degree at NewSchool special?

The project typologies, guest lecturers and critics, and the sense of independence imposed on the students.

What was your favorite thing about attending NewSchool?

The community I gained.

What have you been doing since you graduated?

Building my design firm! And studying for and passing all 6 AREs. Now just studying to pass the CSE to be officially a licensed architect. I’ve also recently started a blog and podcast.

What projects are you currently working on?

Residential. My project won the AIA ADU award in 2019 and I was just awarded an incredible project in Northern California to design a small residence on 17.5 acres.

What has been your biggest career accomplishment?
Probably winning the AIA Award last year and seeing the new projects that are coming my way.
What advice do you have for incoming students?

Have fun! Get creative with your school projects and document everything. Set up a free website and start posting all your work. It’s a free portfolio that you can easily share with prospective employers or clients.

Why should a prospective student choose NewSchool?

It has a small community vibe and the school has a great reputation within the design industry.



Bryn’s Favorite Professional Project

Wing House

This modern, sustainable Companion Unit (AKA Accessory Dwelling Unit or Guest House) is designed into the backyard of a primary dwelling unit. The unit contains a Great Room, 1 bed, 1 bath, and a private deck. The unit is owned by a pair of artists, who wanted to create an art space that could be an extension of their existing residence and could also be closed off as a Guest House if needed. The architecture needed to reflect the same creativity as the clients, as well as the sense of privacy yet connectivity and a high sense of sustainability.

The parti included aligning specific building elements including walls, windows, and doors from the existing to the proposed. By doing so, when the existing deck door and the new ADU deck door are open, the 2 spaces become one. The existing deck flows between both interiors, creating the sense of an indoor/outdoor singular room. This connection between the two buildings allowed us to expand the space, while still maintaining small building footprints.

The project’s sustainability features include passive solar heating/cooling and solar/rain harvesting. The butterfly roof allows the site-line from the existing residence to remain low and provides an optimal shape for rainwater harvesting. Water funnels down the two pitches to a central cricket, which is diverted to a rain barrel and landscaping. The low-sloped cool roof is also designed for solar panels.

Clerestory windows on the North and South walls allow natural daylighting to filter through. Little to no East and West fenestration, as well as deep overhangs, prevent the space from overheating in the Summer. The result is a compact space that is comfortable, light, and integrated within the existing site.


Brandi Rosso

Hometown: Bakersfield, California

Why did you choose to study interior architecture & design?

My dream job since I was in the 4th grade was to be an Architect. Over the years, I gravitated more toward the interior side of architecture. I didn’t want to just create a beautiful building but I wanted to create the space that users lived and worked in. I wanted to create an experience.

What makes earning a degree at NewSchool special?

NewSchool is unlike any other large university because it is a smaller school and creates more of a personal and intimate learning experience.

What was your favorite thing about attending NewSchool?

The community of people I was surrounded by, everyone seemed like a familiar face and if you ever needed someone’s help or just another set of eyes to look at your project everyone was always willing to help out.

How did NewSchool help prepare you for your career?

The projects and programs we were taught were all on-trend and relevant to what was happening in our field. We were able to work alongside other architects and designers in the field and experience what the “real world” process was when designing.

What have you been doing since you graduated?

Since graduation, I have been employed at SMS Architects as a Designer. I have also been studying to take my NCIDQ exams.

What has been your biggest career accomplishment?

I think my biggest accomplishment has been the growth and knowledge I have experienced in such a short time working.

What advice do you have for incoming students?

Have fun and don’t stress too much! This your time to be creative and just enjoy designing.

Why should a prospective student choose NewSchool?

NewSchool has a great reputation in the design industry. Also, with it being a smaller campus you have more one-on-one time with professors and are able to get more feedback on projects which helps you learn more than in a large group setting.

David Michael, Kyle Preish, Slade Fischer & Sydney Preish

Founders, Tecture Design+Fabrication

After graduating from the Master of Architecture program at NewSchool in 2011, David Michael, Kyle Preish, and Slade Fischer founded their own design firm, Tecture. Their work quickly began making a statement all over San Diego, from design/build projects such as the Patio on Goldfinch and the newly opened Kettner Exchange to an installation in the San Diego International Airport.

They have expanded their business from a small two car garage in North Park to an office/fab shop with multiple employees and have brought into the fold several new members including several NewSchool alumni.

With a dedication to elevating San Diego’s design community, they have been creating unique, technology-driven, and customized works that include structures, products, images, environments, and events. From 20’ living walls and custom lighting installations to child development spaces, Tecture is bringing new life into San Diego’s urban fabric.

Two of the Tecture’s recent restaurant designs, Patio on Goldfinch and Kettner Exchange, were the winners of the 2015 Orchid design award by the San Diego Architectural Foundation.


Philip Auchettl, David Loewenstein & Jason Grauten

Founders, RAD Lab Design Firm

RAD Lab Design Firm was founded by Master of Architecture alumni Philip Auchettl, David Loewenstein and Jason Grauten. Within two years of forming the design firm, RAD Lab began making a name for themselves for creating hip, community-driven urban parks in downtown San Diego. Their 2014 Pocket Park won an Orchid from the San Diego Architectural Foundation in 2014 and their large-scale urban park, Quartyard, has quickly become a well-known venue in Downtown San Diego.

Philip, David, and Jason began the Quartyard project for their thesis and brought their vision to reality two years later. They sought to develop a quick and mobile way to revitalize vacant lots that traditionally stay vacant for several years while the land is in development.

Built out of storage containers, the project had a short construction period and was built in a way that could be easily relocated. RAD Lab worked with the City of San Diego and private sector advisors to transform the vacant lot into a vibrant and exciting community location. Quartyard demonstrates how positive changes can quickly and economically activate an empty lot into a thriving interactive urban park.

“We believe Quartyard can serve as a model for cities across the U.S. looking for unique economic development ideas,” said NewSchool alumnus and CEO of RAD Lab, Philip Auchettl. “It is a feasible way to temporarily re-invent empty spaces while improving quality of life for residents. We welcome the opportunity to talk to other cities about how this model can work for them.”

Learn more about the RAD Lab here.


Paul Freitas

Hometown: Middletown, New York

Why did you choose to study interior architecture & design?

I wanted a chance to turn raw spaces into sustainable and unique rooms. I believe interior architecture is not just about being creative but implies psychological and technical skills. With having a background in art and design, choosing this area of study was most suitable for me.

What makes earning a degree at NewSchool special?

The NewSchool facility is unique compared to other schools because the classes are more personal. Not only with the instructors but with other students as well. You’ll know everyone at the school once you graduate which, in turn, will build a network of great colleagues.

What was your favorite thing about attending NewSchool?

The instructors and campus facility. NewSchool is like a family. From the janitor to your professor. Everyone is always happy to see you and lend a helping hand.

What have you been doing since you graduated?

Expanding my design knowledge in other fields by going back to school for certificates in photography and web design.

What projects are you currently working on?

Building a photography & tattoo portfolio.

What has been your biggest career accomplishment?

I participated in building and fabricating a typographic model for Gensler with fellow fraternity members.

What advice do you have for incoming students?

Become involved in extracurricular activities. NewSchool has a fraternity and a few design clubs! They are a great way to expand your interests and meet people that are pursuing different fields of study.

Why should a prospective student choose NewSchool?

Since NewSchool is a smaller campus your professors are more committed to teaching and guiding you through your courses. Your work will also be graded and critiqued more carefully. There is more one- on-one with each professor as well.

Noura Philip Bishay

Urban Designer, Estrada Land Planning
What was your favorite aspect of attending NewSchool?

My favorite aspect was the relationship that was built between me and my professors – how they were great and humble. They believed in me when I couldn’t believe in myself.

What projects are you currently working on?

Chollas Creek – designing a natural look and adding a bike trail.

What has been your biggest career accomplishment?

My biggest career accomplishment is my thesis: The Green Network: Park-to-Bay Project. It’s a study that I believe will be implemented soon. The thesis has won the SDAPA Academic Award 2018. I have also successfully presented the project to three Community Planning Groups: Barrio Logan, Southeastern San Diego, and Golden Hill. In addition, I have presented to the Mayor’s office and the Port of San Diego. I will keep presenting it till we do it.

Michael Robinson

Hometown: Fort Valley, Georgia

Why did you choose to study architecture?

To receive a professional degree in architecture for NCARB certification.

What makes earning a degree at NewSchool special?

The friendships and relationships that you establish are immeasurable.

What was your favorite thing about attending NewSchool?

The introduction to San Diego and the interaction with the professors.

How did NewSchool help prepare you for your career?

My career was established when I came to NewSchool, but it certainly enhanced the skill set, that I had previously acquired.

What have you been doing since you graduated?

I serve on the NewSchool Alumni Advisory Board. I serve on the AIA San Diego Board of Directors as the Membership Commissioner. I serve as Co-Chair of the City of La Mesa – Design Review Board. I will serve as the inaugural President of SDNOMA. I now work in a project manager role with the Judicial Council of California.

What projects are you currently working on?

Pinch District Pedestrian Bridge project in Memphis, Tennessee.

What has been your biggest career accomplishment?

Becoming licensed as an architect initially in Tennessee in 2012 and becoming licensed as an architect in California in 2019.

What advice do you have for incoming students?

Find your passion and pursue it without compromise!

Why should a prospective student choose NewSchool?

NewSchool is an institution that pushes students to dig deep within to discover their true passion and to develop their unique abilities.



Michael’s Favorite Professional Project
Pinch District Pedestrian Bridge