Profile Joe Calvarese:


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  • | 12:00 p.m. June 12, 2002
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Joe Calvarese is the managing principal with Cannon Design, a firm that specializes in institutional architectural for colleges, universities, healthcare, primary and secondary schools and government buildings.

BIG DEAL?

“We are one of the architectural firms in competition for the new county courthouse. We submitted the drawings on June 4 and should hear something by the first week in July.”

WHAT DID YOU HAVE TO DO TO GET THAT JOB?

“We submitted our credentials to the City for their consideration. They are paying $150,000 to come up with the design, but we will spend about $300,000 to come up with the design. We will make our final presentation of our scheme and then a panel will choose the winning design.”

WHAT DO YOU DO?

“I’m responsible for performance on our projects, so I’m sort of the place where the buck stops in the office. I am responsible to develop business for the firm. I manage some of the projects from a business aspect, negotiate all of our contracts and fix things when they go wrong. I’m also the leader of the office in the sense that I am the person to help people along in their careers and look out for their well-being. I also hire and fire employees.”

DO YOU GET TO DESIGN ANYMORE?

“I don’t get to work directly on the boards anymore. I get to design by critique which is working with the designers and offering opinions. I try to be the clients’ advocate in design because what happens is that the designers occasionally have ideas about what they heard the client say that doesn’t coincide with what I heard. It’s an interesting process.”

CURRENT PROJECTS?

New surgical building for Baptist Medical Center downtown campus, new School of Accounting at University of Florida, renovations at Landon Middle School and a Data Center for the Mayo Clinic.

HOW DID HE GET INTO ARCHITECTURE?

He was studying premed at Georgetown University and went to visit a friend who was studying architecture. “I was spending four hours a night trying to memorize chemistry books and I saw him designing building and genuinely having a good time. So, I decided I was going to transfer to architecture and I did.”

COLLEGE

He has a bachelors degree in architecture from Catholic University of America.

AFTER COLLEGE.

He worked for two small architectural firms in Maryland before transferring to Washington D.C. to work for Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, which was the largest architectural firm in America. He worked his way up to director of the Washington D.C. office and then became the managing principal at Einhorn Yaffee Prescott Architectural and Engineering, P.C. in Washington.

MOVED TO JAX

Three years ago. He decided that he was ready for a change so he checked out many possible Southern cities to relocate to. “I went to the other board members of EYP four years ago and told them that I was going to leave the firm and start over. They all thought that I was crazy. I took two weeks off and made a list of cities that I thought might be good places to live. Jacksonville was one of them. I talked to companies in Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville and Charleston, and ultimately wound up here. Cannon Designs wanted me to run their D.C. office and I told them I was looking to relocate further south. Cannon said they had an office in Jacksonville and asked me to relocate here, so I did.”

WHERE DOES THE FIRM GET BUSINESS FROM?

The kind of work they pursue is generally by invitation or by advertisement. “The healthcare work tends to be by invitation. They invite firms to submit credentials and then they invite a few firms to come and present their work. A lot of the work is gotten by virtue of getting in front of the client, presenting our work and how we would go about solving their problems. That is a lot of what I do. I figure out what the client is looking for and how to best present Cannon design.”

OFFICE LOCATION?

Independent Square. “It’s a good location in that it is center of the things we do. We are working with city government on the courthouse and the public schools and we are working on the Baptist Medical Center. We like being downtown and part of the urban core of the city.”

PROFESSIONAL DESIGNATIONS

He has the American Institute of Architects designation.

WHAT DO YOU MISS MOST ABOUT DESIGING BUILDING?

“The creativity and the opportunity to explore ideas in architecture. I try and apply whatever creative talent I might have to being creative about getting business, running the business and leading the people that are here.”

DO YOU DRAW AT HOME

“Yes, I do sketch at home. It’s something I do to entertain myself at this point. Houses are a nice exercise in architecture.”

— by Michele Newbern Gillis