An Interview with Pablo de Jesus: An Architect with a Vision since Childhood
Pablo De Jesus has worked for our firm for over 20 years. His major projects include a beachfront bungalow addition, a restaurant renovation in Newark, a two-family house rebuilding in Jersey City, and a Brooklyn brownstone restoration. Pablo is also our technology guru, and our office’s go-to person for all our 3D modeling and renderings. We sat down with Pablo to ask about his architectural background.
FK: How did you get interested in architecture?
PDJ: There are old family stories about how my mother talked to me about becoming an architect and designing her house. I was always interested in art and was pretty good at it – so that all came together.
When I was in the fourth grade I went to PS 11 between 21st Street and Eighth Avenue in Chelsea. And during recess we could walk over to the abandoned elevated tracks which are now the High Line. We found a little hole that we could climb up to the platform above. And we would run around on the abandoned railway track area with overgrown bushes and everything. It was a very dangerous thing to do, but then I would spend nights dreaming about that place being turned into some sort of a church building or amusement park. As a child, I thought you could have little trains going from one landing platform to another. Each platform could be a little play area with different things, a merry-go-round or Ferris wheel, and other different things. I was doing architecture on the High Line before the High Line.
FK: Did your Dominican background affect your architectural trajectory or experience in any way?
PDJ: Growing up I was going back and forth between the two cultures of the two different worlds. Every time we came to New York you got hit by these skyscrapers and this highly built urban environment versus a more undeveloped natural environment where I grew up.
My grandfather had 13 kids. So he was always building, adding new rooms. When I visited him, I would spend hours just watching him digging holes and mixing concrete and cutting wood and hammering.
In the D.R., I felt that people just build stuff. There are no harsh elements versus a place like New York City or Jersey City, where when something is built, it is very complex and built well.
FK: What advice would you have for young architects starting out in the field?
PDJ: You should take a minor in real estate development or anything to do with construction. Architects need to go back to becoming master builders.
FK: Would you have any additional thoughts about ethnicity and architecture?
PDJ: We should reach out to other communities with a range of ethnicities so that they can get more involved as clients. The general public needs to know more about the role and value of an architect for quality construction.