"A great architect is someone who can interpret dreams and translate them into sensorial experiences that become special places for special people: Us."
Our Voices blog series shines a spotlight on the team behind Quinn Evans, introducing their work, inspirations, and how their diverse perspectives contribute to building a collaborative and innovative architecture firm.
As a 5 year old living in Pisa, Italy, Andrea Quilici, AIA, LEED AP, had dreams of designing and then living in a towering skyscraper. As Andrea grew older, he would also sneak into construction sites to learn how things were built. He also remembers how, when he would travel to other cities, he would observe how the native architecture was integrated within nature and their surroundings.
Now an adult living in the US, Andrea has several sources of inspiration when it comes to his designs. From cooking to creatives like Donald Judd, James Turrell, Italo Calvino, Mozart, and Wim Wenders, the variety of inspirations helps him create unique and purposeful designs.
“Like architects, all these artists create multi-sensorial experiences that are somehow related to space,” Andrea said. “Some speak of possible shapes and materials, others about natural and artificial light, some about imaginary invisible cities, some others about sound and rhythm, while more about perception of the space and how it shapes people’s behavior. A great architect is someone who can interpret dreams and translate them into sensorial experiences that become special places for special people: Us.”
It was a similarity in values that first attracted Andrea to Quinn Evans. However, it was QE’s established portfolio of civic buildings and approach to design that sealed the deal that this was the right place for Andrea.
When Andrea began working at Quinn Evans, he enjoyed being able to collaborate with a variety of people from across the organization. Then, like many businesses, Quinn Evans had to adapt quickly to the new circumstances. With the entire firm working from home, Andrea’s integration into the One Firm mentality was greatly accelerated.
"We are now working seamlessly with colleagues located in different offices and places. I met many more people and strengthened my opinion that we all share the same values. We have been learning from each other and have been collaborating in a way that was not possible before,” says Andrea. “In fact, we now collaborate more virtually, with new tools, and we have discovered how easy it is to have video conferences and to exchange opinions. In my opinion there is no turning back. We have to integrate even more in hybrid ways, where virtual as well in-person collaborations will allow us to thrive and make QE a better firm."
As a Senior Associate, manager, and designer, Andrea is deeply involved in all the different aspects of the design process from the beginning to the end. One common project type Andrea works on is libraries. He notes that while a majority of the public still see the library as a quiet place to read, the concept of a public library has undergone considerable transformation in recent years.
“Libraries have changed in the sense that they’ve gone from being book-centric to people-centric. People go there and not only get knowledge, but produce knowledge: they sit together, students produce papers, people prepare job applications, and learn about technology. So the library is no longer a silent place, but a collaborative place,” says Andrea.
For Andrea, the focus on learning doesn’t stop at his work. For over 10 years, he has served on a committee of the Virginia Chapter of the AIA called the Design Forum. The biannual forum gives architects, landscape architects, industrial designers, and urban planners from across the globe a chance to exchange ideas and discuss critical industry topics such as the exploration of artificial and natural light in design and the new opportunities offered by our increased digitalization.
“Never stop learning or being curious. What is great about our job is that one does not get bored if one is willing to find new things to learn, explore, and be amazed by,” says Andrea. “Don’t be discouraged by the hard work. The greatest satisfaction after years on a project is to finally see people using and enjoying the spaces that we have created. I am touched when the public comes back to us to say: Thank you for listening.”