Conferences & EventsNational Convention
About Anthony Vermandois, AIA: Mr. Vermandois received bachelor’s degrees in Architecture and Architectural History from Cornell University and a Master’s Degree in design studies from the GSD at Harvard. He served as senior project architect at Barnes Coy Architects before establishing his own firm in 2003. Anthony was born and raised in East Hampton, N.Y., and currently lives and practices in the historic district of Sag Harbor, N.Y.
Anthony, you were among the first AIA members to register for the AIA 2012 National Convention. How many national conventions have you attended?
I have attended 10 conventions since 2003 in Charlotte—the only one I missed was Las Vegas.
One of the most important reasons to attend the convention is the chance to connect with architects and design professionals from all over the country. Can you share a success story about a connection you’ve made at an AIA convention?
As a sole proprietor working in a small town, I am rather isolated from the architecture community as a whole. The convention presents a great way to mingle with other architects and share insights about our field.
Rather than any specific connection, making many connections over the years has helped me take the profession’s pulse, so to speak—what trends are coming into play, what new products others are using (or making a point not to use!), and what potential difficulties might lie ahead, such as economics or excessive regulations.
The principals at my old firm usually attend the conventions as well, and we always try to get together to catch up and share success or horror stories about our most recent projects.
Much of your work focuses on historical restoration. What drove your decision to specialize in this area of practice?
I was interested in history before I became interested in architecture and settled on it as a career. Specializing in historical restoration combines these two passions extremely well.
Most of my projects at my old firm were modern residential, which I really enjoyed, but I found I had a talent for the occasional traditional-style renovation project we worked on. When I established my own practice, I found that, on a practical level, this talent helped distinguish me from others—most local firms specialize in either high-end modern or new, traditional shingle-style homes.
Eastern Long Island has a very large stock of historic dwellings from the early 18th century through the 20th century, so there has been no shortage of renovation projects, even during the worst of the Great Recession.
Architecturally speaking, Denver has a much shorter history than Sag Harbor, but it features some impressive buildings from the 19th and 20th centuries. Are there any that you’re excited to see?
I attend the AIA convention for two primary reasons. One is of course to rack up HSW Learning Units! But the other is for the opportunity to travel to the host city. Sometimes these are cities I’ve been to before, but can now re-see with older and wiser eyes, as was the case with D.C. last year.
In other years, the city has been one that I have never visited. Denver is an example of the latter, and it is practically terra incognita to me. In my mind, I can vaguely visualize the airport terminal and the Libeskind museum, with the skyline as depicted on “South Park”, but that’s about it.
A few years ago the convention was in San Antonio, another city I knew next to nothing about. But I was pleasantly surprised by the city as a whole and in particular by the 18th century governor’s palace and elegant late 19th century residential districts. I am looking forward to being similarly surprised by what I discover in Denver!
Finally, April 7–13 is National Architecture Week, an AIA initiative to increase public awareness of the profession. If you could reinforce one message about architecture with the public, what would it be?
I think that all too often when architects and architecture appear today in the general media, it is in the context of large-scale public or commercial projects—museums, skyscrapers, and the like. While we should be proud of these projects, I think the media’s focus on them makes our profession seem intimidating or even irrelevant to a homeowner contemplating an addition, or a small business owner looking rearrange their workplace to make it more efficient.
Ironically, perhaps as many as one-third of the renovation projects I’ve worked on have been structures that had been renovated only a few years before, without the benefit of an architect. The results ranged from questionable to outright disastrous, and mistakes could have been easily avoided had the owners only hired an architect to begin with.
I think we need send a message to the public that we are not all starchitects who work only on mega projects, and that our expertise can be an invaluable resource for any size project or budget.
Historic Resources Committee
The mission of the Historic
Anthony Vermandois, AIA
Anthony Vermandois Architect
68 Union Street
Sag Harbor, N.Y. 11963
Anthony Vermandois Architect is
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