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: Nely Rivera, Mixed Use Studio.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up? 

When I was little, I think my parents lost count of all the things I wanted to be when I grew up. From a surgeon (I don’t know why because I am afraid of needles), a chef, computer engineer, photographer, carpenter, art teacher, animator, and all the way to architect; which brings me here. Excluding surgeon from the list – for obvious reasons – I think that being part of the architecture field exposed me to all those things I wanted to be while growing up, which I still find fascinating.

What parts of your personal life have influenced your work as an architect? Vice versa?

Home, Puerto Rico. Its colors, its music, its flavors. They all influenced my way of thinking and designing, making me appreciate Architecture as an extension of nature, as well as in how it’s a major force that shapes culture. It is interesting to see how that Caribbean energy gets translated into most of my work and daily life effortlessly. For me, it feels like I am bringing a little bit of home whenever I go.

Describe your “dream” project.

My dream project would be to design my own house in Puerto Rico where I could explore with materials and sustainable technologies resistant to hurricanes, while creating a space that relies mainly on passive ventilation and natural illumination.

If you weren’t in your current Studio, which other one would you be in?

Senior Living. To have an opportunity to design spaces that enhance the wellness of senior residents and encourage community integration could be a fascinating studio to be part of.

What’s the #1 myth out there about being an architect?

The classic…architects only wear black turtlenecks and cool glasses.

What’s the most important quality in the client-architect relationship and what do you do personally to ensure you have that with your clients?

Consistency. Offering new and creative solutions that push boundaries but that are also honest while setting expectations will strength the trust between us and our clients.

What’s the key to establishing rapport with your clients?

I believe that timely efficient communication, a positive attitude to exceed expectations are key elements in obtaining our clients’ confidence and build relationships.

Name a trend you don’t think is going away anytime soon and why.

Computational design and 3D printing. They are transforming the way architects work. As they become powerful tools to design, I think us – the designers – will be to a point that we’ll need to know as much about code and software development as we do about design, structures, and building codes.

What’s something you don’t feel you can learn in school and that you have to be in the field to understand?

Money and Project Management. I feel that both subjects in school are still treated as an abstract idea and it’s not until you practice architecture that realize how important those aspects are and to what degree it affects and shapes your design and schedule.

What makes HCM stand out in the industry?

The technical expertise and the high quality architectural aesthetic that the firm seeks and delivers, without a doubt has placed HCM in the spotlight across many places, and I am proud of being part of such a talented team.

If you had a personal motto, what would it be?

“The cure for anything is salt water. Sweat, tears, or the sea” by Isak Dinesen

Who or what is your “spirit animal”?

Celia Cruz! ¡Azúcar!