The latest DMR Dimensions is here.
We hope you enjoy reading about the people and projects that made 2023 another great year at DMR.
The latest DMR Dimensions is here.
We hope you enjoy reading about the people and projects that made 2023 another great year at DMR.
New Jersey is the fourth most diverse state in the United States and nowhere is that more evident – or beneficial – than at DMR Architects, where more than half of the employees are naturalized or first-generation Americans.
DMR’s teams of varied voices are uniquely qualified to lead projects that are intended for vast populations including healthcare, public education and parks, municipal redevelopment plans and buildings, and residential options that range from affordable rental housing to luxury condominiums. The outcomes ensure that no one will walk in and think “this building is not for me.”
“The benefits of diversity and inclusivity are profound – we see positive impacts in a broad spectrum of expected and unexpected parts of our business,” said Lloyd Rosenberg, AIA.
“A variety of cultures creates a mixture of perspectives and that leads to greater creativity in our work – something we would expect. But additionally, our clients come from a broad set of backgrounds, and when they respect that our organization has a value system that welcomes diversity, a comfort level ensues.”
Mr. Rosenberg, a native of Jersey City, which is among the most diverse cities in the country, observed that DMR’s structure – which features integration of practice areas – also is an allegory for diversity.
This firm’s cultural diversity is mirrored in the varied skill sets and levels of the team – and its business thrives as a result.
“In our environment, the blending of diverse professional foci is beneficial to serving our clients and to our employees’ career advancement. It is perfectly natural that the backgrounds of our people would contribute to our culture of performance.”
There are 14 different countries of birth for DMR employees, and when their parents’ places of birth are added in, the total of 26 countries of origin is an extraordinary representation at a firm of just 45 employees.
“Architecture today should reflect inclusivity that goes beyond ADA compliance; it should have cultural compliance. We want everyone to feel seen and heard and comfortable being themselves.”
Just as cross-practice interaction has led to outcomes that far surpassed what one mindset would achieve, cross-cultural collaborations garner far more creativity than if the firm were more homogenous.
“We’ve created the workplace composition that is necessary to get today’s projects done in a way that will continue to be relevant for generations.”
This post originally appeared as part of a two-part series with Real Estate New Jersey. See also, part 1, “You Build Trust by Trusting People,” which outlines DMR’s culture of empowerment. In this article, RENJ sat down with several DMR staff members to understand their experiences growing their careers at DMR.
Pradeep Kapoor, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Chief Operating Officer, Partner (21 years)
Pradeep Kapoor was a junior architect in 2003 when the sustainable design movement was taking hold. He recalls that Lloyd Rosenberg, DMR Architects’ president and CEO, saw the trend as a potential game-changer and asked his team if someone was interested in helping to build a practice in the emerging growth area.
Kapoor stepped forward, studied and soon became certified in the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program. By 2005, DMR had secured its first assignment in the field, the Carlstadt Elementary School, which in 2007 became New Jersey’s first LEED-certified public school.
“We not only give people opportunity. We ask people to bring opportunities that they would like to explore,” Kapoor said, adding: “That was something I learned from Lloyd because, when I wanted to pursue LEED and other avenues of architecture, he always encouraged me.”
Kevin Johnson, Project Manager (10 years)
Job jumping may be a common practice among young professionals, but not for Kevin Johnson, who joined DMR in 2012 and has never looked back.
Here’s one major reason: He has the tools he needs to do his job.
“I’ve always felt supported with technology,” said Johnson, a project manager. “That’s been a huge issue with some people I know — they don’t get the support they need, the computers are too slow, they don’t have the programs they need.
“So not only did I start with a good system in place, but any time I’ve had a concern about something, I’ve brought it up and it’s been looked into.”
Janet Pini, AIA, Sr. Project Manager/Associate (20 years)
Janet Pini has only ever known DMR Architects, the company she has called home since she graduated from New Jersey Institute of Technology in 2002. The firm “afforded me the opportunity to learn right as I got started,” she recalls, noting that she quickly worked on different aspects of the profession — from design and production to construction administration — along with different industries and asset classes.
“That’s been a theme through my whole career here, and I think one of the reasons why I’ve stayed is I’m not doing the same thing every day,” she said. “I’m working on municipal projects and school projects, which really has become my focus here, but I still do get housing projects, health care projects. So there’s that variety.”
Pini now spearheads a mentoring program for the firm’s junior-level talent, hoping to engender the kind of creative freedom and hands-on, supportive learning environment that have kept her at DMR for two decades.
Kurt Vierheilig, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Director of Design, Partner (23 years)
Collaboration is key, but it’s not the only ingredient for thriving in a group setting. It also comes down to being able to understand the creative choices, opinions and suggestions of others — even if they don’t always align — and ultimately find a solution.
“I always felt that the people that worked here were really working in sync,” said Kurt Vierheilig, who was named a partner in 2017. “Everyone respected everyone else. Even if you don’t agree, you understand why you don’t agree, but there’s a goal that you’re trying to reach toward.
“I think if people understand why you might have a difference of opinion, that also helps them develop, but it also helps to keep things going in the right direction, in a respectful way as co-workers. And I’ve always felt that, no matter where you were, no matter what level you’re at, there’s always a good collaborative process. Because buildings are complicated — there’s so many different ways you can do it, different approaches you can take and a lot that goes into it.”
Fassil Zewdou, Sr. Project Manager, Associate (21 years)
Fassil Zewdou is candid when he notes that “I really don’t like to move around.” But even he is amazed to have spent more than two decades with DMR Architects.
Why has he stayed? There’s the ability to learn, the attention from senior leaders and the strong business fundamentals that help the firm endure even in leaner times. But he also points to something that can’t be so easily quantified — company culture.
“You can define value in terms of what the company stands for — if it is employee-centered as opposed to just financials,” said Zewdou, who focuses primarily on education projects in New York City. “You can’t quantify that distinction — you just know it.”
This article originally appeared as part of a two-part series with Real Estate NJ.
See also part 2, “Why We Stay“.
That philosophy has allowed DMR Architects to become a top architecture, interior design and professional planning firm, with a practice that is among the industry’s most diverse and a team large enough to accomplish projects of any size.
Lloyd A. Rosenberg has been building that team for more than 30 years, with a focus on mentorship, flexibility and the freedom to explore new areas and new technology.
We asked Rosenberg to share his thoughts on hiring and developing talent, as well as the ongoing role that DMR’s team plays in the commercial real estate industry.
You’ve built such a diverse practice. Does that happen organically or by design?
It’s probably both, but I certainly have always encouraged our staff to be independent and creative, provided it is within the scope of our project. By managing, monitoring and guiding them they are able to grow and we achieve the best outcome for everyone. And if they have a passion to do something, that’s great, because we empower them to push themselves to learn and develop personally and professionally.
At the same time, I’ve hired talented people that didn’t always fit the position we were trying to fill. So I step back and say to myself, ‘Well, are they talented? Could they do something else? Could they add value? Could they add another dimension to the firm?’ This approach has had such a positive impact on DMR.
What are you most proud of as you’ve assembled this team and created this business over three decades?
It’s several things: First, we have developed a brand and a name. That was one of my goals: I wanted anyone who introduces themselves as an employee of DMR to be immediately respected and thought of as someone who has real expertise.
I also invited in additional owners, each with their own talents and abilities, and mentored them. Today, my presence is less important. I’m not going to every meeting anymore, but I’m still here. The fact is, they are successful on their own, which is what I wanted
But I’m most proud of the fact that I’ve been able to develop people who have produced countless meaningful and important projects. We’ve developed so many special places that years later we continue to hear from people who are enjoying our work. I often hear from people who don’t know me, or who wasn’t there when I designed that building 25 years ago, say, ‘What a wonderful facility this is.’
On July 15, 1991, a team of four opened DMR Architects. Led by Lloyd Rosenberg, AIA, the group set off first to find a client and a project, then on to building the firm as we know it today. Since then, we’ve designed thousands of projects valued at billions of dollars in construction work. We’ve worked right in our own backyard and across the world in China, Costa Rica, Nigeria and Romania. We’ve designed elementary schools, luxury lofts, downtown master plans, police stations, modern offices, and renovations to an elementary school forced to close following Superstorm Sandy. We’ve seen technology and trends come and go, but we’ve always maintained our commitment to inspire through functional and aesthetically pleasing design. In our anniversary issue of DMR Dimensions, we recap the latest DMR news, and also look back on many of our most significant professional milestones and projects over the years.
As DMR continues to celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2021, we are giving back to New Jersey institutions through the newly formed DMR Foundation.
DMR Architects staff complemented the company’s financial donations with activities including the collection of food to assemble lunch bags for delivery to local children through the Bergen Volunteers Brown Bag Buddies summer lunch program. The Foundation has also supported Church of St. Anthony of Padua, Borough of Dunellen Recreation, Borough of Ridgefield, Wildcat Football Sideline Club (Carlstadt/East Rutherford/Maywood Becton), and Bergen Passaic Arc Foundation.
“According to Table to Table, food insecurity has increased by 136 percent for children living in Bergen County with some of these children relying on school lunches as their only full meal of the day,” said Nina Bachrach, CEO for Bergen Volunteers. “We are grateful to DMR Architects for recognizing that the need is just as great when school is out and will continue even as New Jersey begins its post-pandemic economic recovery.”
“DMR’s corporate culture dictates that we continue to be part of the communities where we do business by supporting activities and services that raise the quality of life for those who live and work there,” said Lloyd A. Rosenberg, AIA. “We applaud Bergen Volunteers and all the local charitable entities for their work to feed those in need.”
Today we are excited to announce the establishment of the DMR Foundation.
Since 1991, we have seen our work have a profound impact on the communities we serve. Just as we have delivered the visions and physical infrastructure that have provided critical programs, paved the way for economic growth and improved quality of life, we have turned our clients into friends, joining them in support of their civic and philanthropic efforts.
To that end, we’re celebrating our 30th anniversary by expanding our charitable efforts. The establishment of the DMR Foundation will allow us to expand our support of the services that are most important to our neighbors, ensuring that we continue to grow together.
Despite the challenges we are all facing due to COVID-19, today we are happy to share some good news: nearly all of the 150 projects that make up our nearly $1 billion pipeline have remained actively under development or construction throughout the pandemic.
These projects include significant progress in projects across all sectors. Construction is near completion on The Residences at 30 Court, a luxury apartment building in Morristown and the design of Wyndham Place at Ridgefield Park is underway, bringing our rental unit count to 4,500. The DMR team is also currently working at 80 schools, including renovation projects at 44 facilities in New York City, and new schools in Carteret, Plainfield, and Paterson in New Jersey. Our team also continues to marry functionality and aesthetics at public facilities throughout New Jersey and is currently working on municipal building projects for Monmouth County and the municipalities of Montgomery, Ridgefield, and Red Bank. DMR’s municipal planning team is now working as the municipal planner in Dunellen and Roselle.
“I’m very proud that across all our practice areas we’ve maintained our culture of collaboration despite our staff being physically separated by shelter-in-place directives,” said Lloyd A. Rosenberg, AIA. “Each of our team members are trained in the most innovative planning and communication tools available, and take personal pride in each project to ensure that the long-term goals of our clients are met in the same way they would without a quarantine and its complications.”