Contributed by:
Tess Haverstick
Assoc. AIA

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YP Corner: Interview with Clemente Jaquez, AIA

If you’ve been to the AD EX, chances are you’ve seen or met someone on the AIA Dallas Board... but let’s be honest, a lot of members probably don’t know who these people are or what they actually do. So I sat down with Clemente Jaquez, AIA, Director of Networks and architect extraordinaire, to talk about life and get the scoop on his position on the board.

T: What got you into Architecture in the first place?  Going into college, did you know you wanted to be an architect? 

C: In the town where I grew up, there was this sense of empowerment and pride that came along with creating your own environment; people were craftsmen and proud of their work. My dad built houses, and I remember people in our town would call him “maestro,” a master craftsman. I always admired that, and from the time I was in 9th or 10th grade, I knew that I wanted to be an architect, the orchestrator of that craftsmanship. 

T: How did you get to where you are now? You just started your own firm, MODUS architecture.  How did you and your partner, Mike, decide to start an architecture firm? 

C: There has been a common thread throughout my education and career: the desire to be socially relevant, have ownership of my work and create compelling architecture. As I progressed through my career, this thread continued to impact my decisions. Starting our firm was a natural extension of this mission and something I have no doubt resonates with many aspiring students and young professionals. 

Starting a firm from scratch has been challenging and equally rewarding: There is a unique level of accountability, because all that you do will affect the quality of work, your relationships, and your brand. I’ve had one major helpful realization, in that architecture is not just about pursuing your ideals, but rather pursuing and finding your value to society.

T: You are on the AIA Dallas board as the Director of Networks.  What does that entail? What are your responsibilities as a director and as a board member?

C: Simply put, my job is to be a voice and a resource for our networks and members. AIA Dallas has 5 networks: Fellows, Latinos in Architecture, Small Firms Roundtable, Women in Architecture, and Young Professionals. As the Director of Networks, my aim is to bring clarity between the engaging programming and mission of our members and the vision of the Board. Our Chapter is not about top-down leadership, but rather an informed and connected organization that promotes the grassroots efforts and initiatives of our members, committees, and networks; this in turn informs the board’s vision for AIA Dallas. I am fortunate that I get to work closely with the chairpersons on new and existing initiatives and see first-hand their ambition and excitement for our chapter. 

T: What do you enjoy most about this role?

C: Over my years of involvement, I have gotten the opportunity to work with great leaders and have realized that what we do is a natural extension of our passion - I greatly enjoy the aspect of building community with our members. 

The programs and initiatives that we have at the Chapter offer instant opportunity for leadership, mentorship, and community impact - these are great incentives for individuals that want to be more engaged and part of a movement with purpose. 

T: What is your favorite building in the world and why?

C: I’d have to say La Sagrada Familia - it’s a living testament to human ingenuity. There is no better icon of craft, scale, and relevance. It is a direct reflection of our human capacity and tenacity  – It transcends time to inspire people today and motivates us to demand more out of the built environment.

T: How about your favorite architect?

C: Historically, Luis Barragan. His architecture is genuine, personal, and demonstrates a beautiful expression of positives, negatives, and scale… fundamentally sound!

Looking at contemporary designers, I believe Heatherwick combines an aggressive approach to design exploration and translates craftsmanship into compelling architecture of our time.

T: Favorite city?

C: My favorite city that I’ve visited is Shanghai. It’s a big city that has evolved and grown over a long period of time to become a modern and iconic destination. There is a strong consciousness to create a high-density city that is responsive to a robust economy, technology, and transportation; yet embrace historical roots and cultural heritage. I loved their public transit and the interconnectedness of public spaces – when in China go to Shanghai!

T: Where do you find inspiration?

C: I find inspiration from the places I visit and people that I meet - I believe that the pursuit of inspiration in the world should always be a priority.

T: Do you have any hobbies outside of architecture?

C: I love to cook for my family - my two boys and wife. Nowadays I’m a full time referee between my two boys; and it will get more interesting as my youngest, one year-old,  just started walking yesterday! 

People often ask me about my work/life balance, and I don’t claim to have it all figured out but I believe that you have to embrace both with equal passion and commitment.


Thanks to Clemente for sitting down with us, and stay tuned for the next thrilling installment here at the YP Corner!