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Meet Pierre De Angelis of Good Project Company in DTLA

Today we’d like to introduce you to Pierre De Angelis.

Pierre, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I can’t point to a precise moment where I decided to pursue architecture. In retrospect, I was always interested in some form of creative pursuit and architecture seemed like a good way to do this, relative to an Italian-Canadian culture of pragmatism that informed much of my upbringing. This link between the creative and pragmatic would become a throughline connecting my education, early career, and ultimately informing the work I am interested in.

My undergraduate studies, completed in Toronto, generally followed a Polytechnic model. It provided a strong technical foundation but also left me frustrated by the lack of engagement with the more progressive design culture emanating from abroad, that I became absorbed with. For me, Los Angeles was at the epicentre of this. Shortly after graduation and a couple of years spent working, I moved to Los Angeles to complete my graduate studies at The Southern California Institute of Architecture, aka SCI-Arc.

SCI-Arc, an independent institute, was founded with the intent of taking a more experimental approach to Architecture. It was a ridiculously amazing place that functioned like a science lab/art school. An unapologetically idealistic sandbox. During this time, I spent a semester studying abroad at the Berlage Institute in Rotterdam, which proved to be pivotal for me. Here I started to consider how an exaggerated rationalism could be used to generate new ideas, and ultimately how the lines of pragmatism and idealism could be complimentary in producing rigorous, thoughtful, and provocative work.

Following my graduate studies, I had the good fortune of working with some incredible architects, in particular, Lorcan O’Herlihy and Hitoshi Abe. Both had vastly different approaches in their work; and both were extremely generous, giving me latitude to explore my own ideas within the framework of their offices. The cumulation of these experiences helped me to expand and refine my approach, with the broader intent of eventually establishing my practice.

A commission in early 2017 to substantially renovate a legacy mid-century residence became the impetus to officially open my office, Good Project Company.

Has it been a smooth road?
I was fortunate to land several jobs immediately after securing my initial commission. These first few projects were all with wonderful clients with whom I share a strong alignment in terms of collaboration, the process of discovery, and the core values of architecture.

Of course, with any new business, the hours can be grueling, there is a constant struggle to maintain a life/work balance, but I’m happy to be in a position where I’m able to do this, and the bumps in the road have been marginal within a broader context. If there was one thing I would change, it would have been to start on my own much earlier, this, of course, is always an easier decision in retrospect.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
When I committed to starting an office, the intent was to develop an ethos that would be consistent with my through-line; creativity in the pragmatist tradition. In this respect, the idea of Great work represents a singular idealistic pursuit, at the expense of many other things. Whereas Good work is more nuanced, layered and complex at the expense of nothing; and in this spirit, ‘Good Project Company’ was established.

The office has a deep interest in developing solutions that are clever, conceptually, and highly specific to the opportunities of each project. We delight in efficiency, unexpected experience and have a strong conviction that architectural operates best when it can radically alter our ordinary lives.

What sets us apart from others?
This may be the most challenging question we are asked. In many ways, our genuine answer is; nothing at all, really. We practice architecture, we are proud of the work we do, we feel our process produces unique results and that our work is of a high caliber. But this truthfully, this is all subjective, as it is also likely that most firms would express the same sentiments.

We have been incapable of following the advice of marketing professionals that almost infallibly reinforce the idea that specialization and specificity are the best way to grow a practice. But we are much too fascinated, with much too many things, to dedicate ourselves to a singular pursuit. In many ways, this goes back to the idea of Good work versus Great work. For the time being, we are excited and look forward to continually producing nuanced and layered projects. Should an area of interest naturally emerge above all others, then we will pursue it with only good intentions.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
At the moment, Los Angeles can be a challenging place for a young architecture firm. The cost of living has increased considerably; combined with the high cost of construction, it has led to a more risk-averse client base in public and private sectors.

Public work is awarded on a point system that preferences larger firms with demonstrable experience in highly specific project types. This procurement structure largely disqualifies younger firms from effectively competing. Whereas private sector clients are often reluctant to move past established design conventions, as these are easier to grasp and visualize.

In both cases, it is certainly understandable. The cost of investment, therefore risk, is high so there is a natural inclination to seek out certainty. However, this side-steps the possibility of a more exploratory process, which is where the real value of architecture lies. However, I am encouraged by some of the more recent private sector work I see, which optimistically speaks to a return to Los Angeles’ legacy as a testing ground and hotbed of innovation.

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Image Credit:

For the following image: GPCO_Westwood_01.jpg, © Roland Halbe, c/o AHA

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