Celebrating WRNS Studio’s 2024 Promotions

Celebrating WRNS Studio’s 2024 Promotions

“At WRNS Studio, leaders emerge in various and overlapping ways—by elevating firm culture, modeling a spirit of craft and experimentation, teaching and sharing ideas, and excelling in technical problem-solving or management. Some draw with a kind of poetry, beauty, and nuance that truly captures the essence and potential of a place. This group of leaders bring these talents and more; each embodies that ‘thing’ that makes our studio tick.” – Adam Woltag, Partner. 

Our new Senior Associates and Associates share their thoughts on adaptive reuse, hospitality-inspired interiors, musical influences, learning new things, and the value of architecture in this era of distraction. 

Which project or initiative makes you proud?

Melissa Babb, AIA LEED AP BD+C, Senior Associate
Adaptive reuse of existing spaces is one of the most sustainable and responsible approaches we can take as architects and designers, and is particularly relevant here in New York City. As the project architect for Amazon Hank and a native New Yorker with vivid memories of the Lord and Taylor building, it was a joy to bring new life to a building that was beyond its use as a department store yet has such a rich history that deserves to be celebrated. A major design goal was to create spaces that encourage folks to come to the office and collaborate with colleagues while also drawing design inspiration from the building’s unique past. I’m very proud to be a part of the team that helped write the next chapter of such an iconic building in NYC.

Zoe Demple, NCARB, Associate
Over the past two years, I have been working on a ten-story medical office tower called the Valley Health Center in San Jose. Currently, the building is under construction, meaning my day-to-day is mostly quick problem-solving and jumping from one thing to another. I’m enjoying the process and truly learning what it takes to construct a building of this magnitude. Although challenging, witnessing the final product come to fruition has been incredibly rewarding. What excites me the most about this project is that the future tenant, Santa Clara Valley Healthcare, is a public healthcare organization dedicated to providing essential services and healthcare to the surrounding communities, which will have a lasting, positive impact on the underserved population.

What are you excited about right now in architecture?

Alexander Key, AIA, LEED AP, Senior Associate
In an era of distraction, when so much is felt and perceived through the ice-slick surface of a touch screen, I am most excited by the simple fact that our work, as architects, rests in the physical world. Active street life, the memory of a historic façade, the patina of time acting upon a material, the elemental feel of a tactile surface, the every-changing passing of light–these are the irreplaceable building blocks of the human experience, the original interface, the cauldron shaping our deepest memories. It is through the study and shaping the physical world, whether for the intimacy of close face-to-face interaction or the publicity of a civic forum, that we demonstrate and deliver value and which serves as the ultimate test of our work. It is work demanding of patience and perseverance, sculpted a myriad of perspectives, irreducible, messy and exposed.

Alexander Arizala, NCARB, AIA, Associate
The trend toward residential and hospitality-inspired interior architecture across all project typologies, especially in the more utilitarian leaning healthcare and life science sectors. One of the questions that arose during the pandemic era was how the pandemic would affect the built environment moving forward, and during various return-to-office studies we found that occupants greatly valued the comfort and intimacy provided by their surroundings whilst working remotely. Taking that into account, we have been able to incorporate more domestic attributes into project design, which has resulted in more hospitable spaces that feel more like an extension of one’s home rather than stark workaday spaces. This can be seen in recent WRNS Studio projects, such as the Prometheus Headquarters at Brickline and the Elco Yards Mixed-Use Life Science development.

What are your inspirations outside of architecture?

Daniel Johnson, Senior Associate
Though it may seem clichéd, music profoundly inspires me beyond the realm of architecture. It serves not only as a means to reset my mind during stressful periods but also as a vital creative outlet. The conceptual overlap between these two disciplines is so striking for me; music shapes time with sound, while architecture sculpts space with form. Together, they continuously engage my thoughts on structure, form, phenomena, sequence, space, place, material, and the human experience. Music also deeply informs the lyricism of my work and architecture enriches my spatial imagination as I listen. In this harmonious interplay, I find a perpetual source of inspiration, where the rhythm of one art form enhances the resonance of the other.

Jennifer Poepoe, AIA, Associate
I love the feeling of learning something new. How in the beginning everything is unknown and fuzzy in my mind. Then as I gain understanding the picture becomes clearer. I find this in many places in architecture and life—at the start of a new project when the pieces are everywhere and it slowly takes shape and connections are made, as I master a new MTB skill, learn to speak Italian, or become a more efficient cyclist, swimmer, runner. Every day brings new opportunities.