Dossier

Carl Bolton, AIA

He finds that the AIA brings a sense of community

By Posted on April 16, 2014

CBName: Carl Bolton, AIA
Firm: Allegheny County Department of Public Works
Family: Audrey (Wife), Dinks (Associate #1), Belle (Associate #2)
Years in practice: 13
Education: M.Arch, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University; B.F.A., University of Bridgeport
Your first job: Shoveling snow for my neighbors as a kid.
Project you’re proudest of: Isn’t that a bit like asking a parent about their children?
What’s the best part of your job? Walking into a building or space after construction is completed to see people using the space as the design team envisioned they could. Knowing we can improve people’s lives, albeit in small ways, is very satisfying.
What would you change about your job? The sometimes adversary roles between Architect, Contractor, and Owner.
What have you always wanted to tell your clients? Cost. Time. Quality. Pick two.
What’s the most annoying thing architects do? Assume that there’s only one solution to a design problem, and it’s their solution.
What’s the next big architectural trend? Perfect weather for a streamlined world and spandex jackets for everyone.
Code/zoning requirement I’d change if given the chance: Parking requirements for retail spaces.
Favorite tool: Eyeballs and a tape measure.
The one thing you wish they’d teach you in school: Building codes and budgets are not optional.
Advice to young architects: Architectural Registration does matter. Set a goal to be registered by a certain date and stick to it!
I belong to the AIA because: I wanted to be a part of the architectural community in Pittsburgh and I wanted to contribute to that community. When I moved here in 2001 I only knew the few colleagues in my small firm. Through the AIA I’ve met a lot of great folks, from a variety of firms. There’s a variety of personalities too, but the common denominator is that they care. They care about their clients, their colleagues, and the profession.
Architectural quote to practice by: I’ve always liked what Lou Kahn had to say: “A great building, in my opinion, must begin with the unmeasurable, must go through measurable means when it is being designed and in the end must be unmeasurable.”
Favorite building: Louis Kahn’s Philips Exeter Academy Library.
Favorite outdoor space: Raccoon Creek State Park.
Favorite indoor space: Grand Central Terminal, NY. That’s probably a more emotional answer than cerebral. I just remember taking the train into the city as a college student and the impression it made on me. You get off the train, and it’s dark and low. You then enter into this cavernous space of great activity, and you just feel your heart lift.
Architect you’d like to have a drink with: Living – Peter Zumpthor; Dead – Carlo Scarpa
Favorite architecture book: Plečnik, The Complete Works by Peter Krečič.
Favorite Pgh neighborhood: Strip District at 7 a.m. on a Saturday morning.
Wish list for downtown Pgh: Something very mundane – new sidewalks.
Building you’d like to renovate into something else and why? The old Pennsylvania Railroad Station in Wilkinsburg. All that potential just slowly crumbling away.
Building you’d like to tear down: The Ray and Maria Stata Center at MIT. The detailing on the building is so poor it’s an embarrassment to the profession.
If you hadn’t become an architect, what would you have been? Forest Ranger.
Someday I’d like to: Hike the entire length of the Appalachian Trial.
I want to be remembered for: doing good work. That and for having a thick head of hair. I’m fine with being remembered for either of those two.
People would be surprised to know that: I was a graphic designer for about 10 years before going to graduate school for architecture.
Something you’d like to learn how to build with your own hands: Wood canoe.
What’s on your iPod/Pandora/Spotify? The Dinner Party Download and The Moth Radio Hour podcasts.
Favorite Kennywood ride: The Auto Race. That’s about all I can handle.

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