April 18, 2023
Robert Bielamowicz, AIA
My path to architecture started on the job site. I couldn’t wait to turn seven. That’s when I could go to work building houses with my dad. That start was perfect for an over-imaginative kid who loved to draw. I could guess then but I understand better now – long hot days on-site, fetching tools, looking through blueprints, connecting design to a Skilsaw. My father was the first of many teachers I’ve had along the way. Teachers can be people and experiences too.
I’ve had the great fortune to experience a broad variety of project types and scales: single-family residential, convention centers, and an NFL stadium. It’s always felt best for me not to specialize and to stay open to lessons from a variety of project types.
After graduating from Clemson, the move to Atlanta seemed like a natural step. A few of us pooled our money, loaded a truck, and headed south to take on everything there was to do ahead of the Olympics. My time here began in a small office in the Flatiron Building with a desk overlooking Woodruff Park. We tackled concept designs, renovations, streetscaping projects, and park design – even a re-concepting for the Piedmont Park Arts Festival. It was a crash course in Atlanta, a great way to meet a wide variety of local figures and a path to gain my bearings in a fast-changing new place.
I eventually made my way to TVS and two decades of high-profile, public-facing projects that included the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the Georgia Aquarium and several convention centers across the country. These years were an academy in defending design over the erosion of a long schedule, studies in collaborative energy, and collective grit for tackling complexity.
In the time since, I’ve joined an exciting new Atlanta office for DAG Architects. We have the ability to pursue a wide variety of projects so an attitude of openness is perfect for this new adventure.
Experience continues to be a series of teachers. The patience people have shown me and the places practice have led me to reinforce a few things that I keep returning to about this profession we share.
- We’re idea people. It’s our job to imagine. It’s our calling to transform the expected.
- Design is for everyone and every project.
- Design isn’t dependent on program.
- Design is every phase.
- Our experiences remake us. We’re never done learning.
What is your favorite design tool?
Over time, I’ve made use of a variety of design programs – and still do. I’m also not afraid to admit I can make a pretty attractive spreadsheet. My favorite tool, though, has always been a roll of trace (what my kids used to call “the loooong paper”). Hand sketching records and reveals a thought process at the same time. For me the long paper has remained the go-to for collaborating over a lot of ideas real fast. We’re a social business, after all.