Noel Moreno on Design and Building Across Scales

Alumnus Noel Moreno received a Bachelor of Architecture from Woodbury in 2007 and a Master of Architecture from Harvard University Graduate School of Design in 2009. Currently an architect at Gensler, Moreno has practiced across architecture and interiors. With a depth of experience, he has worked at different scales, including at firms like NBBJ, AC Martin, KPA Architects, Peter Rose + Partners, and Michael Maltzan Architecture. We caught up with Noel to ask him about his career and what it was like designing and building across scales.

Interview with Noel Moreno

Q: You’ve practiced in diverse ways, from Los Angeles to Boston and for firms like NBBJ and Gensler. What benefits are there to working for a larger practice?

Resources! The large firm has something for everyone and they provide numerous amounts of support for growth and engagement with the profession.  While each firm has its own advantage, large-scale architecture practices can double as professional consultancies, where project delivery and efficiency can be streamlined. Gensler is constantly training the team to work in unison so a 600 person-studio looks like one.

Q: You’ve studied at both Woodbury and Harvard. How did your education shape your career path?

My education definitely shaped how I approached my career. Woodbury introduced me to what architecture is and how it is done. The GSD showed me how global practice can work and how industry leaders shape and understand the design process. Without a doubt, one would not be possible without the other. I was fortunate to discuss my work in Woodbury’s steel competition studio in an interview with Rem Koolhaas, the founding partner of OMA.

Q: Architects constantly face questions of narrowing project scopes. How do you think architects and designers will adapt ways of practicing to advance the profession?

I believe architects are becoming efficient with design, documentation, and construction. The design process has become more fluid with scripting, and that transfers into documentation so we are not constantly ‘redrawing’ to represent the design intent to a contractor.

Q: As a Project Architect at both Gensler and NBBJ, what type of projects do you enjoy working on most?

People usually ask me “what type of architect are you?” and I don’t have an answer. I don’t chase a specific building type, I chase the project that is going to teach me something new in construction, design, project delivery or executing a design.

Q: If you could make one significant change in the profession, from office management to design or company culture, what would it be?

Young designers need to learn how to build sooner. The profession has the tendency to have recent graduates work in SD to DD phase of a project (sometimes not by choice). Knowledge of construction can help make projects more efficient without sacrificing good design.

Q: What advice would you give to young designers who aspire to follow a similar career path?

Love architecture! Our career path is demanding; as long as you love it, architecture will never be a job.


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Feature Image: Wilshire Grand Center, AC Martin
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