Meet Ed Torrez, AIA, President and Principal at Bauer Latoza Studio. For Hispanic Heritage Month, we asked him a few questions and he had inspiring words.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU TO BE A LATINO ARCHITECT?
Being a Latino architect means a lot to me since it wasn’t the easiest path to become a licensed architect with many obstacles to overcome. But being Latino with Mexican descent parents instilling on having a strong work ethic, it was not an option to fail in becoming an architect. I now own a company with a diverse and talented staff that I am proud of and respect.
HOW DOES YOUR CULTURE INFLUENCE YOUR DESIGN?
About midway through my architectural career, I become an advisor to the board of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and discovered a parallel path to preservation that included conserving cultural heritage. It has help me to become a better preservation for underserved groups that includes African-American and Latinx heritage. That has help me understand how I can better contribute to the preservation of Latinx sites throughout the US. I serve on the Board for Latino Heritage in Conservation (LHC), the only national organization that work on preserving historic site related to Latinx culture and heritage.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU TELL A YOUNGER VERSION OF YOURSELF?
I would tell the younger generation of architects to decide what they are passionate about and what they would like to change as an architect. Sometimes I have to remind myself what am I passionate about and I am refueled again to make the wolrd a better place, one project at a time.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE LOOKING TO BECOME ARCHITECTS?
Try to become licensed, once allowed to take the exam. Our lives become more complicated, and it becomes more challenging to dedicate the time needed to prepare and pass all of the exams. Set aside the time you know you will need and make it a priority if it is really your goal.
WHY IS DIVERSITY IN ARCHITECTURE IMPORTANT?
Architecture should reflect the rich diverse population of our society. In the U.S., the design profession has not reflected the demographics that exists. Buildings and sites would be better designed if acknowledged and celebrated our diversity.
HOW HAS BEING AN AIA MEMBER IMPACTED YOU AS AN ARCHITECT?
Becoming an AIA member as a young architect has made a positive impact on my career. I served as Chair of the AIA Chicago Historic Resources Committee early on when I was on my second year as a member. I later served as the Chair of the AIA National Diversity Forum in 1999-2000 when we hosted the National Diversity Conference here in Chicago. In 2004-05, I served on the AIA Chicago Board and as an Officer, Secretary where we expanded our membership by 30%.