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The Cool Box / Nick Aello, AIA, Associate, Mixed-Use Studio

The Hord Coplan Macht Cool Box is a place to get to know some of the people and personalities who are delivering great ideas and leading work for our clients. In the Cool Box today: Nick Aello, AIA, Associate.

What is it about your personality that helps you do your job?

I have the ability to remain calm under pressure, which enables me to not be affected by tight deadlines. It is a good trait to have in a deadline-oriented profession! I am able to channel the stress of a deadline into increasing my efficiency and focus.

“If I couldn’t be an architect I’d probably be a…”

I would be a sculptor or furniture maker. I enjoy making things that are well crafted at all scales, whether it is a small architectural model, a piece of furniture, or a building.

Do you approach new projects differently now than say, five years ago?

I have learned to follow my intuition when designing, relying on my past experience to quickly come to design resolutions at a fraction of the time it took at the start of my career. The key to efficient design is the ability to constantly critique your own work to flush out the simple and clear ideas that will make your design impactful.

Tell us about one of your favorite projects from the last few years.

The recently completed Remington Row in Baltimore City transformed a lot of mainly vacant buildings and surface parking into a mixed-use building that supports the character and scale of the neighborhood. The project was also completed in collaboration with our Healthcare Studio, with the addition of the Johns Hopkins Community Physicians on the second floor of the building. Remington Row is also the first block of development within a multi-block master plan that will revitalize and attract new residents to the Remington neighborhood. It is the type of development that serves as a prototype for revitalizing urban neighborhoods through great design, place-making, and collaboration.

What is your design philosophy? Can you distill your design philosophy into 1 sentence?

I believe that design is most effective when it is clear, concise, and efficient. These basics of design translate into art, architecture, fashion, furniture and many other creative mediums.

What is one thing a client should expect about a project that they don’t otherwise think about?

Our clients often focused solely on the numbers for a project, such as the unit count, parking, or material costs. Our job, as design professionals, is to make sure this program is accounted for while simultaneously creating an architecture and urban design that will enhance the experience of the building user, the pedestrian, and the neighborhood in which the project is located. These intangible aspects of the project are what create award-winning places where people want to live, work, and play.

What do you do to engage client stakeholders and help them feel that their voice is heard?

We have a process in which we go through many different precedents and initial concepts with the client to get a feel for what their vision of the project might be. This collaboration is critical as the client is typically much more familiar with the site and surrounding context. This insight is invaluable and is why stakeholder interaction is critical to the design process.

Where in your studio have you seen the conversation shift in recent years? What are you seeing in terms of trends?

We have seen the focus trending toward larger common amenity spaces paired with smaller units. This allows residents to save money on rent and focus on interacting with their neighbors and city.

What aspect of Hord Coplan Macht’s approach to projects do you see really making a difference for clients?

Our approach to design in the mixed-use housing studio seeks to create value for our clients by having unique, place-oriented projects that respond to the surrounding context. Our studio also has experts that focus on various aspects of the design and construction process, which ensures that our clients get excellent service from initial design through construction administration.

In your opinion what is one of the most exciting trends in architecture right now?

The most exciting trend I am seeing now is the focus on revitalizing urban cores in cities throughout the country. Millennials want to be close to work in order support a work-life balance and have amenities within walking distance.

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