© Vanguardia Partners


An Interview with Armando Ramos of Vanguardia Partners

Q: Vanguardia debuted earlier this year, with three partners from very varied backgrounds. How did the three of you come together?
A: Mitch Wasterlain and Christine Stanton have both worked in finance and real estate, and Christine also worked for the city on some infrastructure projects. But they're also very interested in art and architecture – Christine has a degree in art history – and we met at an event at the Storefront for Art and Architecture.

Q: It sounds like a right brain/left brain partnership – they bring the business savvy and you, the architect, head up the creative. You're very into Building Information Modeling. What exactly is that?
A: It's a modeling system that goes beyond the 3D modeling most people think of to also include time and cost. It means you can get a project done on time and on budget.

Q: Nothing in the building industry is ever done on time or on budget.
A: [Laughs]. You're right, many people have an interest in having a project drag on, because they think that otherwise they won't make money. Which isn't true.

What, as a firm, are you trying to do?
A: When Mitch, Christine and I decided to work together, we wanted to treat development and architecture as complementary industries where the goal is an end project. We are bidding on a project in Harlem right now. Mitch did the numbers, Christine handled the community aspect and I did the design. Their information shaped my building and vice versa. For example, Christine came up with the idea of doing a culinary school and a fresh market as part of the development – because the area has one of the highest rates of diabetes and obesity in the city. So we're combining architecture with finance and community.

Q: That seems very ambitious but also enlightened.
A: You can do an iconic building, but that won't change the world anymore. Bilbao is a great example – they did a lot of things in the community to support the museum. A subway station, an airport, gentrification of the neighborhood. We think the same way – we want to create long-term sustainable value.


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