At Related Midwest’s Roosevelt Square development, we’re creating state-of-the-art mixed-use residential and retail built by leading minority-owned firms. In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, we’re spotlighting leaders from two of those firms and sharing their insights into the project and how their culture impacts the work they create.
Today, we’re shining the spotlight on Gabriel Ignacio Dziekiewicz, President of DesignBridge, an innovative and award-winning practice of architects and designers with a 37-year history.
What was your approach to Phase 3B of Roosevelt Square?
Roosevelt Square 3B is an incredible opportunity to work with the Related team to imagine two new state-of-the-art buildings that would fill two empty lots along Roosevelt Road. With almost a blank canvas along Roosevelt Road, our approach was to develop a forward-thinking, modern architectural expression that would respond to and create interest along a fast-paced arterial road. We imagined a panelized facade concept that—through the “peeling away” of layers—could achieve different expressions along the length of the facade while addressing the unique sites in distinct ways. The buildings are designed to be fully electric, with high-performance systems and robust wall assemblies to maximize efficiency and minimize energy use while aiming to deliver a replicable high-quality model for future residential developments.
How do you anticipate that the buildings you're designing will serve that community?
When completed, the buildings will provide a total of 140 units of much-needed, high-quality, mixed-income and affordable housing units to the Roosevelt Square community. I believe they will serve as a catalyst to spur more development along Roosevelt Road and the surrounding community.
What excites you about the work you see from Hispanic and Latino professionals in architecture and design?
I see a tremendous energy and a wealth of talent that is emerging, and, as opportunities arise to do work in the diverse communities of our city, there is a hunger to showcase those talents to make an impact.
How does your cultural background and heritage shape your work both as a design leader and a business leader?
I come from a diverse, multicultural Hispanic background which is something that I’ve always been proud of and has shaped me entirely. My father was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and my mother is Puerto Rican born here in Chicago.
Having parents from two different Hispanic backgrounds has broadened my understanding of the world, the city and its diverse communities. It has given me a window to the intricacies of different cultures, each with unique values, celebrated traditions and distinct challenges and struggles.
I believe my heritage has made me a better architect because architecture is the most social art form. We design spaces and buildings for people to be, to live and work. Understanding people and cultural diversity is at the center of our work.
What do you wish more people knew about being a Hispanic professional in the architecture and building space?
I think it’s important to understand that like the American experience, there is no singular identity that defines the Latino community. Each of us has our unique story which has shaped and influenced how we live and particularly how we approach architecture and professional life. As professionals in the building space, I believe that we are all linked by similar ambitions to seek the opportunity to utilize our skills, individual perspectives, and passions to make a positive, lasting impact for our clients and the communities we have the privilege to serve as architects and construction professionals.