Bayardo Selva, AIA, is an architect at cre8 Architects in Houston.
If you were not an architect, what other profession would you have pursued?
It is difficult for me not to think of myself as an architect. This has been the only profession I ever thought of pursuing since I was a kid. Putting things together has always been my thing, and if I had to choose another occupation, I would still have chosen a career that allowed me to do that. When I attended college at the University of Louisiana’s School of Architecture and Design, their programs included interior and industrial design programs. This allowed for a cross-pollination of ideas between students and faculty. This exposure left me with a certain curiosity for the industrial design field. Although industrial designers think up and make most of the things we use every day, most people don’t even know industrial design exists as a profession.
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Mexico City and raised half the time at my parent’s home city of Managua, Nicaragua, and the other half in New Orleans, Louisiana. I met my Columbian wife in Houston, and our daughter is a first-generation American. I can certainly say that I have been exposed to very rich multicultural experiences. These experiences have influenced not only the kind of person I am, but also the kind of architect I strive to be.
Pen, pencil, or computer?
All! They are all very powerful tools in our profession. I believe that all three have a place in an architect’s tool bag. I like to use pen or pencil for my sketches and then digitally visualize those thoughts with software. The back and forth between media allows me to have a more personal relationship with the designs I create.
Where do you find inspiration?
I tend to find inspiration in the beauty of nature. Paying attention to how nature works through seasons of dormancy and abundance shows you how well oiled the machine is. The textures, the colors, the motion, the changing scale…They all provide me with inspiration. I always use natural materials, and wood in particular, in my projects. Wood has a sense of warmth that comes in many colors and grains. Whether you are working on interiors or exteriors, wood can be used for a modern or traditional aesthetic. The admiration I have for nature gives me the responsibility as an architect to promote sustainable design. I think we have to not only learn from the Earth, but also live in harmony with it, protect it, and revere it as a life-sustaining force.
Architects aren’t known for their hobbies.… Do you have one?
True, architects don’t usually have hobbies that aren’t related to design, because there are not enough hours in a day to have a career, participate in professional organizations, spend quality time with the family, and fit in hobbies as well. Strangely enough, I have managed to squeeze in a hobby during the time most people dedicate to sleeping. I joined a long distance running club, and I run several times a week before dawn. I have completed several half-marathons. Initially, I thought this would be an activity that allowed me to hang up my architect cape for a few hours, but I quickly realized during my runs through Houston’s Inner Loop that I get to experience the city’s architecture in a different way. In car-centric Houston, it would be hard to live and work without an automobile. Running has allowed me to discover architecture in unfamiliar neighborhoods from the pedestrian point of view.
Do you listen to music when designing? What kind?
Yes! I’m Latin, so music is essential to life! I set my music to shuffle among different genres, including Latin jazz, rock, hip-hop, and everything in between. I enjoy discovering new artists. I can go from Miles Davis to The Police to Jay Z in matter of minutes. However, I must say that Latin Jazz touches my soul the most. Music allows me to focus my creativity when generating new ideas. I would not have it any other way!
What type of advice would you offer to young professionals?
The advice that I would give is to never lose the sense of discovery, and to be passionate about the profession of architecture. More often than not, young designers start their careers full of enthusiasm and creativity, only to have their thoughts and ideas crushed by the bureaucracy of architecture. I believe that younger professionals who are faced with these behaviors in the structure of the firms they work for should move on to a place where all their ideas and creativity are welcomed. Unfortunately, there are many firms out there that lack good mentorship for their young professionals. For firms that do mentor and encourage, it’s a win-win. The young architect is challenged while contributing to the success of the firm, and the firm is not only retaining but also growing their creative workforce with satisfied employees.