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Amin Espandiari

Amin Espandiari

Amin Espandiari, an Architecture Instructor at NewSchool, believes in a design approach that addresses synthetic relations between architectural space and surrounding conditions in order to generate unique user experiences. In his opinion, architecture is about raising questions for our contemporary society rather than being defined by form or object. His teaching methodology is based on a strategy of allowing students to develop their thought process from a variety of different cultures and architectural styles. Amin focuses on expression (concept & idea) and representation (architectural form & model) with coherence between them.

Read about some of Amin’s recent projects:

Del Mar Project

Project Description: For me, architecture is about creating spaces that generate all kind of experiences and become long time memories. This project is a contemporary residential located at Del Mar, California. With dramatic Pacific Ocean and Torrey Pine Park views, the major concept of designing the space became to maximize the views and creating natural ventilation to minimize the heat exposure during warm seasons.

Project Details:

  • Style: Contemporary
  • Design: DDDvisual, Inc.
  • Structural Engineer: Patterson, Inc.
  • Contractor: Charco, Inc.
    Chula Vista Project

Project Description: This contemporary backyard includes a pool, gazebo, guest house, and kitchen spaces. The main concept behind this project was to create a fun entertainment space to generate unique experiences for the client.

Project Details:

  • Style: Contemporary
  • Design: DDDvisual, Inc.
  • Structural Engineer: Malek Engineers, Inc.
  • Contractor: Coreal Construction, Inc.

Kurt Hunker

Project Name

Skyline Elementary School

  • Project Details
  • Solana Beach Unified School District
  • Kindergarten – 6th grade
  • 67,000 SF
  • Reinforced masonry construction
  • North-facing clerestory windows
  • Replaces an outdated and deteriorated 60-year old facility
    What are you working on now?

Schedule permitting, I try to stay active in professional practice by taking on consulting design projects, such as Skyline. In the past year, I have also consulted on the design of another new elementary school, Emerson-Bandini in the Shelltown area of San Diego and a new ranger station at Mission Trails Regional Park. All three projects have been with Davy Architecture whose founder, Ric Davy, has been a friend and colleague for over 30 years.

How did you become involved in this project?

Having had a long and fruitful relationship with Davy, they asked me to join the team as a consulting project designer. Together we have a nice track record of civic and educational work and enjoy working with each other.

What has been your favorite aspect of this project?

I don’t know if there is one favorite, but I certainly enjoy collaborating with current and former students. On the Skyline project, my former student Enrique Rodriguez (B. Arch. and M. Arch. II, NewSchool) is Project Manager and current student Joel Lazaro is a key member of the field team. I also enjoy interaction with the client, which in this case has been any number of administrators, teachers, community members, and other school supporters.

In what ways are NewSchool students involved?

There are also NewSchool students involved at Skyline on the construction side of things, working for the construction manager Balfour Beatty. It has been fun to interact with them, too.

What’s next? Do you have any other projects coming up?

I will continue to stay involved with Skyline through construction. It is scheduled to be ready for students when they return this fall—a very fast schedule for this kind of work. And there will be work to do on Emerson as well. At the moment, I’m not sure I can handle much more than that!

Anything else you’d like to add?

For me, watching a design become a building is immensely satisfying. It is also extremely informative for my ongoing professional work. We do this again and again, and we learn from what we do: that’s why they call it “practice!”

Learn more about the project here.

Daniela Deutsch

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

It’s a wonderful day celebrating all women and the fight for gender equality.

What woman inspires you and why?

My mother. Her never-ending love, strength, and wisdom, despite having a very hard childhood. She raised three daughters that are best friends and know how to love.

What highlights and challenges have you faced in your career?

I have moved from Romania to Germany, then Germany to the United States. Had to learn both German and English from scratch and work in different cultures. Especially the technical language and different standards were a challenge every time. At some point my career moved also towards Academia and grew in that direction ever since. This is for sure my favorite highlight.

What’s something interesting you’re currently working on? Personal or professional.

I just became the Head of Architecture Programs at NewSchool of Architecture & Design in San Diego. Working with students and faculty on further enhancing our program and modeling the behavior we want to see in the world of design and construction is my ongoing passion.

What do you believe will be the biggest challenge for the next generation of female architects, designers, and construction managers?

The profession is more and more friendly and inclusive to women. The only challenges I can see now can just arise if we forget to believe in ourselves. It may still remain hard for some, but I think today the possibilities are endless.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career to date?

Fight ambivalence.

Why should women and girls pursue a career in the architecture, design, or construction management industry? Why is it important to encourage women and girls?

If it’s a calling, pursue it! It’s important to encourage them, if they need to remember that women can do any job they want or have an affinity for. More specifically, all these jobs, Architect, Designer, or Construction Manager offer satisfying careers with creative outputs and gratifying team work.

What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Trust with care.

What has you most excited about the future?

My son.

On International Women’s Day, what is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers?

You are the Architect of your success.

Michele Christopher

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

A special day to celebrate, honor, and empower all women around the world!

What woman inspires you and why?

So, so many…but my first and foremost is my mom who forged her way as a single mother, scholar, and professional, all during a time when society heavily frowned upon female independence. My mom made her own decisions, learned from her mistakes, achieved many personal successes, and never let anything stand in the way of her dreams. Like us all, she is not perfect, yet she is…

What highlights and challenges have you faced in your career?

I would like to use this space to honor Anita Hill who, in 1991, brought to life the notion that being sexually harassed in the workplace is not acceptable. Her brave, heroic, and monumental act kick-started a slow-yet-positive evolution toward better standards of human behavior.

What’s something interesting you’re currently working on? Personal or professional.

Professionally, it is my goal to make sure every person in San Diego knows about the benefits of studying at NewSchool of Architecture & Design !!! This journey is taking me on all kinds of adventures, including building meaningful human relationships, listening and learning from others, as well as researching new marketing and education trends.

What do you believe will be the biggest challenge for the next generation of female architects, designers, and construction managers?

I believe we humans are constantly evolving, and equality for all is still a work in progress. We have made many strides in my lifetime, and the challenge is to keep the vision moving forward, with love.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career to date?

Most important – ONGOING – lesson to me is effective communication.

Why should women and girls pursue a career in the architecture, design, or construction management industry? Why is it important to encourage women and girls?

Don’t let outdated stereotypes dictate your life choices. Explore your passions and follow your heart!

What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Don’t buy that used Datsun B210…it’s a lemon.

What has you most excited about the future?

Right now I am celebrating 10 years as a professional in the field of education! It is my honor to be a part of people’s pursuit of education, growth, and life-expansion. I am excited that I still have so much room for growth, and enjoy the challenge and fun of meeting new people.

On International Women’s Day, what is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers?

Design a vision for yourself, take baby steps to achieve it, enjoy the journey, eat from the buffet of life!!!!

Tina Royster

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

It’s a day to look back at the achievements of all women in all walks of life and to celebrate the future generation of strong young women.

What woman inspires you and why?

My mother is my inspiration. Through adversity, she moved herself from Richmond to Boston. She raised 2 daughters alone, worked full-time and attended part-time classes to make sure we had food on the table, a roof over our heads, and clothes on our back.

What highlights and challenges have you faced in your career?

After leaving Boston, it was difficult to find work here in San Diego, but I once started working at NewSchool I knew I was in the right place for me.

What’s something interesting you’re currently working on? Personal or professional.

I am a member of the San Diego Women’s Chorus and am on the Inclusion and Culture Committee.

What do you believe will be the biggest challenge for the next generation of female architects, designers, and construction managers?

I think women have an opportunity to lift up the next generation of young women in the STEM fields. Mentoring them can help them go further in their careers.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career to date?

Keep in touch with all of the connections you make throughout your life; including the bad ones.

Why should women and girls pursue a career in the architecture, design, or construction management industry? Why is it important to encourage women and girls?

The STEM fields have for far too long been dominated by men. We need to have divergent voices in these careers.

What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Stay in the Coast Guard a little longer. Four years are not enough time to get an idea of what you want to do in your life.

What has you most excited about the future?

Being around to see the human race make a home among the stars.

On International Women’s Day, what is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers?

Don’t be afraid to find mentors and look outside of your career field. Everyone’s journey is unique and valuable.

Elena Pacenti, Ph.D.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

Celebration of female talent, achievements, and role in society. And encouragement for young generations to pursue professional and personal dreams beyond boundaries.

What woman inspires you and why?

Marie Curie and Rita Levi Montalcini for the sciences. Miuccia Prada, Patricia Urquiola, Paula Scher, Paola Antonelli, Neri Oxman just to name a few in the world of design. I’m inspired by women driven by passion and with extraordinary creative + innovative thinking.

What highlights and challenges have you faced in your career?

In all my life, I have been very lucky to work with talented and visionary individuals, men and women, driven by the same passion for design. I have been particularly lucky to meet extraordinary men, as mentors, who believed in me and empowered me, and to whom I owe my professional growth. By traveling and working abroad, I have experienced different cultures and ways of thinking, sometimes obstacles, and learned that nurturing and respecting diversity is the most important value (in design and in life).

What’s something interesting you’re currently working on? Personal or professional.

As a past member of the Board of DFA (Design Forward Alliance) I’ve been following the preparation of an important proposal that could bring San Diego on the map of the design capitals of the world, and kickstart a series of initiatives to improve the SD-Tijuana Region with human-centered design initiatives.

I’m also excited to be part of the advisory group of the next (and second) edition of SDDW – San Diego Design Week – with prep meetings starting soon.

I’m reviewing papers for an Italian Journal of Design and developing many ideas for new courses and classes at NewSchool!

What do you believe will be the biggest challenge for the next generation of female architects, designers, and construction managers?

The risk of discrimination is always present, not only against gender, but also ethnicity, culture, and creativity (change) itself. But I’m optimistic, and I see in the challenges of these times the opportunity of making big changes, for the good. I always recommend my students to focus on their knowledge and skills and on their ability to discern what makes sense for society at large. In the next generation of designers, the “why” we design will lead the “what” and “how.”

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career to date?

To listen, understand and learn. Every day.

Why should women and girls pursue a career in the architecture, design, or construction management industry? Why is it important to encourage women and girls?

Women who are interested, passioned, or talented in design should definitively pursue design and have a very high possibility to succeed and also become leaders in the field. The field of Interior Design is already dominated by women, but also in the field of product, media and graphic design the number of female designers, leaders and entrepreneurs is growing. Do not place boundaries on your talent!

What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Listen, learn, apply. And repeat. Be humble and bold.

What has you most excited about the future?

The unknown. And the opportunity of design for a better world.

On International Women’s Day, what is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers?

Be curious, courageous, humble and bold.

Charner Rodgers, Ph.D.

Vice Chair of the National Association of Home Builders Student Advisory Board
1st Place Outstanding NAHB Student Chapter of the Year
2021 National Housing Endowment HELP Grant Winner

What year did you start teaching at NewSchool?

2011

What led you to pursue a career in the construction industry?

My father! He was my first hero and role model! I was introduced to residential construction at birth. My dad was a brick mason then later became a general contractor. I spent every summer going to work with him. In my family, the first-born male becomes a general contractor. I am my dad’s only child, so I was destined to have a career in construction.

Why did you start teaching at NewSchool?

My mentor Dr. Linda Thomas Mobley always spoke to me about teaching. I was a teaching assistant when I was attending graduate school and I quickly realized I had a gift with it.

In your opinion, what makes NewSchool special?

It’s a safe place where faculty and students can be themselves while obtaining a great education.

What are the challenges, if any, faced by women in a male-dominated field?

The biggest challenge is not getting a chance to prove yourself in the field. Some females would like to be superintendents and not sales associates!

Throughout your time in the construction industry, what are some ways you feel it has changed?

There is definitely more diversity in the field! There is also more mainstream interest in the craft.

What’s something interesting you’re currently working on? Personal or professional.

I am working on research exploring women in the construction industry. I want to research the experiences of women in the industry and how we can promote and introduce more women in the industry.

What is your favorite part about educating the next generation of construction managers?

My favorite part about educating the next generation is being a part of their journey and seeing how far they go. Many of my students have made me very proud.

If you could provide advice to a young female interested in a career in construction, what would it be?

I would tell young females in the industry to JUST DO IT! Don’t be afraid of what might happen. Our industry is more open to women than ever before and I truly believe this is the time to be a woman in the industry.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career to date?

The most important lesson I learned is to believe in my abilities and knowledge. I earned my spot in the industry and I should not think differently.

What has you most excited about the future?

I am most excited about new technologies that are being introduced. The industry has not changed much in its processes, and I think the new generation is going to provide more innovative ways to accomplish many tasks in the industry.

Dr. Rodger’s Favorite Project
I have so many projects that I have worked on that I love, but my favorite projects were created in the residential industry. I love building a house for someone who is going to turn it into a home.

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