Studio Sessions Vol.4

Joe Rasnick, AIA

est. November 2011

Well – I suppose the time has come for me to subject myself to the same questions that we’ve asked of our staff.  All I can say is that – over the last 6 years – I’ve learned a lot.  Maybe the most important thing I’ve learned is that there is still a lot MORE to learn.  I can always get better.  Here’s to the next six years; here’s to getting better.

Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Pikeville, Kentucky – a small town in the middle of Appalachia. In 1998 I actually lived in Destin, Florida for a year but moved back to finish high school.

What did you want to be when you were a kid?
I definitely remember – when I was very young – wanting to own and operate an art-supply store (I liked to draw). Thankfully that didn’t pan out.  I also wanted to be a photographer for National Geographic at one point.. then be an animator for Pixar (after Toy Story came out).. Architecture seemed like a natural convergence of all the fun parts of those things.

Where did you go to school?
I attended Auburn University deep in the heart of Alabama through the mid-2000s. On the surface, I chose that school because it had a top-ten architecture program.  But in reality, I ultimately chose Auburn because it was positioned about halfway between Lexington (where my father lived) and Destin (where my mother lived).

Describe your role at i/A
The vast majority of my time is spent in the earliest phases of a project. Most of the time you’d find me meeting with clients, collecting project information, researching clients and their projects, and ultimately creating a lot of the early conceptual design packages.  I also manage the company brand/identity through marketing, project acquisition, and of course our web presence.

As an architect, what exciting industry trends are you seeing?
I’ll just give you a list of things that – in my mind – are going to change the game in our profession:

  • Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR). The ability for us to give vibrant presentations of projects in real time and at 1:1 scale is an overwhelming concept to consider.
  • Passive energy systems – particularly solar. While solar panels and passive energy systems are nothing new, the exponential rate of innovation and cost reduction in the industry is bringing us closer to a new chapter in the way we think about designing places and spaces.
  • 3D printing and other innovative prefab methods of construction.
  • the resurgence of wood as a structural system – particularly gluelam members in large-scale projects.
  • A shoutout as well to large graphics and color blocking as a means of vividly showcasing a client’s brand identity.  

What do you value most in your position with i/A?
Without question I love the client relationship more than anything. There’s nothing quite like taking on a new, challenging project, earning the trust of the client, and coming up with something that exceeds what they thought their project could be.  You don’t hit a homerun every time you step up to the plate – but when you do – there’s nothing like it.

Describe a project you’ve recently worked on… what kinds of challenges had to be resolved?
I’ve recently worked on two different veteran memorial parks. The biggest challenge has been trying to come up with a meaningful and impactful design that represent the exact same concepts (honoring American veterans from multiple wars), yet are tailored to very different communities, people, and locations.  That exercise really forced me to dig deeper into understanding people and communities more than I ever have previously.  The experience of working with veterans and passionate community leaders has left a permanent mark on me – professionally and

If you could have any job in the world for a day what would it be?
Probably a fighter pilot.

What three things do most people NOT know about you?

  1. I was an abysmal student in college.  When I was focused I did very well, it just wasn’t very often.
  2. I’m very shy.  Professionally I need to be outspoken and comfortable in big crowds and speaking in public, so I’ve learned to approach being an “outgoing creative professional” as an actor in a permanent role.
  3. I was an extra in the movie Seabiscuit, which was filmed in Lexington several years ago.  It was a crowd scene at the end of the movie, and for some reason, the camera zoomed in on my face for a reaction – it was not my good side.

What are you most passionate about professionally? Personally?
Professionally I’m most passionate about challenging myself to make every project “better” than the last one. I want to be outside my comfort zone, constantly working to leave each client and community happier than when we started.  Personally I am passionate about really only two main things… My wife and children, and my company and staff.  I feel like with those two elements of my life happy and healthy – I am happy. Period.

Do you have any muses?
I have lots of muses, but the ones that I can mention here are probably my wife, the i/A staff, music, and coffee. When all those things are clicking I’m like a creative machine.  If even one of those things is missing (or are upset with me) then it’s difficult to get that creative train moving.

Do you have a skill or talent that most people don’t know about?
I can run like the wind blooows.

If you could witness any event of the past/present/future – what would it be and why?
This may sound trivial but oddly the first thing that popped into my head was to be able to see something like Woodstock. Pretty much everything about the late 1960’s appeals to me – music, cars, innovation, the “style”, mid-century modernity, etc.  It might also be cool to see some crazy future event – like the first commercial space flight…

Do you have any nicknames?
Unfortunately “Joe” is the only one that has survived. My dad always had some weird ones for me:  Joe Bob, Joby, Toast Head (long story), Nermal. In college a lot of people called me Kentucky Joe – very original.

Do you have any interesting items on your desk? What’s its story?
I have a homemade jar of shaving cream. My 4-year-old daughter apparently made it at school on Father’s Day.  To be honest I’m not sure why I still have it on my desk and I’m not totally sure it’s actually shaving cream.

Give us a few of your personal interests
I have lots of interests: TV/Movies, making movies, playing basketball, playing tennis, playing with my kids, staying up to date on tech trends, watching Auburn football and UK basketball, travel, cooking, not taking things too seriously, listening to audiobooks, eating good food, making people laugh, I could go on.  You could also add “…while eating bacon” to everything on this list and it would still be applicable.