10 Questions with… Andre Kikoski
opens up to us about his amazing team, working with the Guggenheim, and choosing the right projects for his firm.
ID: What kind of clients do you most like to collaborate with?
AK: We work with clients who are passionate… That sense of passion is critical. The second thing we look for is people with the resources to shepherd a project through to completion. That is not only about money; we’re looking for the intellectual capacity to support a great project, great leadership, strong organization, and a sensibility of how they approach the world.
ID: What’s been most surprising as you’ve grown your business?
AK: That when we start a project, we never can tell where it might take us. Where we went after the Wright at Guggenheim was quite interesting to us, and not necessarily where we thought we would be.
ID: That’s such a significant project. What went on during the planning stages of the Wright at the Guggenheim?
AK: The people at the Guggenheim were amazing to work with. Throughout that project, we were working together effectively as a team. They really helped us take on the issues at hand, phrasing their questions elegantly without being prescriptive. We have private residential clients who are like that, and it’s just great.
ID: Are there any projects on your plate at the moment that gets you excited?
AK: I always feel that every project we’re doing is our best project!
ID: How do you decide what to take on and what isn’t really up your alley?
AK: When we talk to people about projects, we look for an opportunity to do something interesting and innovative. Our firm is really unique… We have some of the highest honors in the industry, but are also well received outside of the institution of architecture.
ID: Though your name is on the door, you seem very supportive and inclusive of your team. How key is that to your success?
AK: We’re really lucky to have an amazing team and a great practice together. The beauty of it is that we’re having so much fun. Everyone’s always doing more than we thought they would. We all understand that it’s about listening to what people are saying, from clients to contractors to consultants, and respectfully harness what everyone brings to the table.
ID: What has been a particular thrill for you lately?
AK: We just went to the kick-off dinner for a new restaurant we’re designing, and they had gathered a group of 30-plus investors from all over, and of all different ages. It was fantastic to be surrounded by so many intelligent and diverse people, all with opinions on what the end result should be.
ID: With so many unique projects going on at once, what ties everything together as coming from you?
AK: True, our projects can vary greatly… yet there’s a fundamental spirit that is distinctly “us.”
ID: How has the industry changed in the past few years?
AK: Clients are slower to pull the trigger in many instances. It’s no longer a situation where we’re always racing toward completion of a project.
ID: You spend a lot of time lecturing at universities and working with students. Why is this so important to you?
AK: The beauty of teaching and being around students is you never know who’s the one who is going to do something extraordinary. You’re surrounded by talent and energy and vision, which is really exciting. I like to think that we’re about the future… We’re always about promise.