Architects Talking to Architects: Sergio Botero, Assoc. AIA

Sergio Botero, Assoc. AIA, works at Gensler in Austin. Currently, he is working on the design and coordination of the new phases of The Domain, a unique mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented project that seeks to celebrate Austin’s culture. Prior to joining Gensler, Botero worked on the design of the award-winning Circuit of the Americas Formula 1 buildings with Miró Rivera Architects.

Sergio Botero, Assoc. AIA – courtesy Sergio Botero

If you had not studied architecture, what other profession would you have pursued?

Becoming an architect has literally been the adventure of a lifetime. Although I dreamt of being an architect as a child, I thought I could escape from “the curse.” I pursued a career in engineering and ran a residential construction company. When I immigrated to the United States, I pursued an MBA and landed a job managing multinational projects at companies such as Coca-Cola and Dell. After all of this, I still could not escape architecture. Being the son of an architect and married to one, too, didn’t help, so I gave up on business and embraced my unforgotten dream by attending the graduate school of architecture at The University of Texas at Austin.

Where do you find inspiration?

Adventure inspires me. Whether walking or riding, in the city or in the country, in open spaces or closed spaces, these kinds of experiences evoke thought and are something to be admired. Finding that quiet moment for introspection — the solemn in the simple — is incredible.

Where did you grow up?

I was born and raised in Medellín, Colombia. As a child, I was fascinated by the diversity of my native country. My family and I traveled days and weeks at a time, crossing the Andes Mountains, rivers, jungle, and desert. However, trekking to the barrios to build houses with my father on weekends is among my most cherished memories.

The Medellín hillside in Colombia – photo by Sergio Botero

Puente de Occidente bridge near Medellín, Colombia – photo by Sergio Botero

Pen, pencil, or computer?

Pen — permanent, indelible — leaves a signature of one’s hand. Ink was my first love. I still have my old set of rapidograph pens. Ink makes me commit without regrets. A stain is as valuable as a straight line. Mistakes are part of the process and make me keep going.

What is the one building that you just had to see for yourself?

Therme Vals. This masterpiece by Peter Zumthor seems to be a mandatory pilgrimage site for UT architects. If you believe in experiencing architecture, this place is a must see. My wife and I visited it during our trip through the Alps. The thermal baths have a “silent night” during which no one talks so that you can fully immerse your senses. It makes you feel architecture in a whole different dimension.

Looking back at the Alps from Therme Vals in Switzerland – photo by Sergio Botero

Handle detail at the Saint Benedict Chapel near Therme Vals – photo by Sergio Botero

Architect’s aren’t known for their hobbies … Do you have one?

Although architecture is a life-absorbing passion, I am determined to maintain my interest for cycling. I used to ride competitively, winning a couple of Texas championships. There is certain intrinsic affinity I see between cycling and architecture. Maybe it is the innocuous blend of art and technology, or the experiencing of built and natural spaces from a unique vantage point that makes me feel passionate for cycling.

"Architects Talking to Architects" is a column on the Texas Society of Architects blog that spotlights members from across the state at different points of development in their career. All participants are given the same set of questions with instructions to answer any six, giving them the opportunity to highlight the items they feel are most interesting. Is there someone you'd like to see featured in "Architects Talking to Architects?" Email communications@texasarchitects.org to let us know.