Leadership Profile: Rob Rydel
Monday, August 27, 2018
Posted by: Emily Nilsen
Each month Housing Colorado profiles a member volunteer who serves on a committee or another volunteer opportunity. This profile features members who have shown great commitment to the mission of Housing Colorado.
Rob is a partner at Denver based OZ Architecture and design thought leader for a number of specialties, including hospitality and resorts, multi-family and mixed-use architectural design. Rob brings his collaborative approach to all projects through his expert facilitation of an innovative charrette process. Through this initial project step, clients collaborate with the OZ design team in a creative visioning session to set goals and expectations for the project upfront. This process has proven, time and time again, to be a successful and interactive approach to designing unique solutions for our clients.
How did you end up in affordable housing?
In 2010, I was recruited to lead a Housing Colorado charrette, as part of the Housing Colorado Annual Conference. I met a dedicated group of professionals and talented CU students, and we participated in most wonderful design journey. It was the opportunity to contribute to a very diverse group that made it incredible satisfying for me. The joy of working with affordable housing clients was born then.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The most satisfying part of being an architect is the ability to foresee and craft a solution to a set of constraints on a given site two-three years before it happens. We lead a creative design path for every project and act as a sounding board for all needs and wants – before presenting the best answer to every ask. The collaborative charrette process is my favorite part of every project.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part is balancing the three ever- present variables to achieve a solution we are proud of:
1. Design quality
How did you get involved with Housing Colorado?
First charrette for GJHA (Village Park) in 2010. Continued to be involved every year since.
How do you currently serve Housing Colorado and what do you enjoy most about volunteering?
-Lead annual charrette
-Attend the HC events
-Grow younger staff and students to appreciate the value of good design in affordable housing
What are some exciting progressions or projects currently going on in your work?
Having my background rooted in private sector work, I come equipped with “resort” vision to each project. I have evolved our multi-family portfolio from small townhome to mid-size apartment project, to market rate for-rent or for-sale including mega mixed-use projects with hi-rise construction.
What project, program or undertaking are you most proud of and why?
A good example of working with diverse groups would be Silverthorne Performing Arts Center project – with dual client: the Town of Silverthorne, and Lake Dillon Theatre. With the charrette heavy design approach, it proved to be a very successful project. Our HC members should visit it next time you are in Silverthorne.
What is the best career advice you have ever been given?
I have two:
1. Listen first.
2. Build on what your strengths – don’t spend time on repairing your weaknesses.
Who has been an instrumental mentor through your career so far or who do you look up to?
Robb Sharrow – first mentor of 5 years during my second job, shortly after graduating college. I learned by participating in the process of gathering consensus from diverse group of stakeholders while designing hospitals. It included travel out of state and learning to prepare for meetings and responding to asks on the road. I continue to use the lessons learned in my current work.
What website(s) do you find useful in your work?
Denver Infill – to keep up with current events in design
Pinterest – for graphics and visuals that come grouped together
If you were given the chance to go on a vacation to any place of your choosing, where would you go and what would you do?
Japan. It would be different. New culture, food and building craftmanship. There is something mystical about the zen gardens in the midst of large urban environment.
What’s your favorite restaurant in Colorado?
Denver has an ever changing restaurant scene. Buckhorn Exchange or The Fort– when entertaining friends or clients from outside of Colorado. Rioja – when dining with locals in Denver.
What book are you currently reading? Are you enjoying it?
“RAFA” by Rafael Nadal. Yes, I’m absolutely enjoying it. It’s a biography by top ranked tennis player. Story of commitment, perseverance and the drive to reach a goal – even if one doesn’t get there every time.
A Note from Housing Colorado: In Rob's Leadership Profile, he talked a lot of about Housing Colorado's Design Charrettes Program. Click on the link to learn more about this fantastic program. Charrettes frequently become real projects. The vision of the Village Park apartments in Grand Junction that he had mentioned became a realized community just a few years later -- check out this video.
We also currently have a call out for 2018 Design Charrettes volunteers. Download the RFQ and submit by Friday, August 31st to sign up for this great program. The Design Charrette presentations will take place Friday, October 5th at the NOW! Conference.