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.
“We are one of the architectural firms in competition for the new county courthouse. We will submit 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 for developing 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.”
A new surgical building for the 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.
IS DESIGNING A CREATIVE OUTLET FOR YOU?
“It used to be when I used to get to do it. What I get to do now that I get the most kick out of, is keeping all of the competing elements in a building design in balance. The clients have their ideas and our design staff have their ideas so I make sure the clients’ interests is well-represented. I make sure what they envision is what we reproduce. It’s a balancing situation because the client may have ideas that are not practical and on the other hand the designers may have ideas that aren’t in keeping with what the client wants. I work as a balancing point between those two.”
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 buildings and genuinely having a good time. So, I decided I was going to transfer to architecture and I did.”
He has a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Catholic University of America.
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, D.C.
MOVED TO JACKSONVILLE
Three years ago. He was ready for a change so he checked out several southern cities. “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 Design 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.”
Located in 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.”
He has the American Institute of Architects designation.
WHAT DO YOU MISS MOST ABOUT DESIGNING 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.”
He and his wife are ballroom dancers. He also enjoys cooking and reading.
The last book he read — and recommends — is “Basket Case,” by Carl Hiaasen. He also enjoys reading books by Tim Dorsey. His favorite recent move is “The Matrix” and “Casablanca” is his favorite classic movie. “I watched that again for the 20th time this past weekend.” When dining out he enjoys The Wine Cellar. A favorite travel spot is the Gran Cayman Islands.
He has been married to Lorraine for 31 years. They have two children, Sara, 25, and Joseph, 23
St. Paul’s Catholic.
—by Michele Newbern Gillis