Stephen Winikoff, AIA

Architect... or Dogwalker?

By Posted on May 28, 2015

Winikoff photo - head shotName: Stephen Winikoff, AIA
Firm: Astorino-CannonDesign
Family: Susan (spouse)
Years in practice: 15
Education: B.Arch, University of Toronto, Canada
Your first job: High-end residential work in Toronto, Canada
Project you’re proudest of: Allegheny Health Network’s Health & Wellness Pavilion, Wexford
Most embarrassing moment: My second job as a recent architectural graduate was working for a small design-build firm in Toronto. The office was in a private home. One day my boss’s husband, a wealthy hedge fund manager, came downstairs to the office and seeing that I was the only one present, says “Hey Champ (did not know my name), when you take your lunch break, would you mind walking Sophie (the dog)? Thanks, Buddy.” Needless to say, Sophie did not get walked that day (for which I do feel badly), and it prompted me to seek a better employment opportunity… which, it turns out, was to be in Pittsburgh!
What’s the best part of your job? Teamwork, problem-solving, and creating spaces for patients and staff that contribute to healing.
What would you change about your job? Develop increased and improved understanding of the economic forces and business decisions that lead to the initial need for a project.
What have you always wanted to tell your clients? What clients are buying from an Architect is not a stack of paper or a BIM model, as they often believe. In fact, what they are buying is the facilitation of a highly complex and interactive process that ultimately leads to a design and construction solution to challenges uncovered during the process.
What’s the most annoying thing architects do? Some do not fully understand or respect the full implications of the design decisions they make. What annoys me most is how that perpetuates a stereotype of the Architect as simply a “beautifier” that the rest of us have to work so hard to dispel.
Architectural quote to practice by: “Measure twice, cut once” – my grandfather.
Code/zoning requirement I’d change if given the chance: Not necessarily a specific code, but rather the multitude of overlapping and contradictory series of codes and regulations that govern my specialty of healthcare design. A single, comprehensive set of regulations would make designing more efficient and in my opinion, safer.
Wish list for downtown Pgh: Much of the wish list is happening – increased residential, grocery store, public markets and nightlife. I would like to see mass transit link to the airport.
Building you’d like to tear down: The ‘Bayer’ sign on Mt Washington.
Building you’d like to renovate into something else and why? Former Froggy’s Bar and Restaurant at the Corner of First Ave and Market St. I walk past it nearly every day. I have heard stories of its heyday. I think that there is tremendous potential in the structure and something special that could be revived.
Where you live in Pittsburgh and why you think it’s great? We live in Wexford. I work downtown and my wife works in Cranberry. Wexford has provided us with easy access to downtown and neighborhoods to the east, west, north, and sometimes south. Our community of neighbors is fantastic and we love our home.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where? Somewhere near the ocean, like California.
Favorite outdoor space: High Sierras of Yosemite (California)
Favorite indoor space: D’Orsay Museum (Paris)
Favorite city: Quebec City (Quebec)
Architect you’d like to have a drink with: Buckminster Fuller
Favorite architecture book: Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino
If you hadn’t become an architect, what would you have been? Chef or lawyer.
Someday I’d like to: Write a book.
I want to be remembered for: Having done the best that I could in the time that I had.
People would be surprised to know that: I used to be able to speak three languages fluently.
Favorite Kennywood ride: The Whip. I love the feel of this classic ride and the inevitable visit to the chiropractor that follows.
Something you’d like to learn how to build with your own hands: I would like to learn to work with glass… and I know that Pittsburgh offers that opportunity. Now that I have noted that in writing and in public, I will get on with it.
The one thing you wish they’d teach you in school: Psychology.
Advice to young architects: Listen. It is a skill that is highly valued yet often overlooked. It can make the difference between the success and failure of a project.
The secret to my success: Soft on the outside, resilient on the inside.
I belong to the AIA because: If a profession does not advocate for itself, no one else will.

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4 Responses to Stephen Winikoff, AIA

  1. Mr. Winikoff failed to mention that he is also a talented basketball player. A true power forward on the hard court.(If he were only a couple inches taller he could have been a contender). We often talk about the talented people who have left Pittsburgh. Steve has been a wonderful asset to our fair city. Bravo my friend.

  2. A great read, but what is left out is the soft and very human side of Stephen. An excellent and thoughtful communicator. A truly unique, caring, wise and quality person.

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