What do you do for a living?
Ryan: I currently am a project architect for Gould Evans. Before that I worked at Studio Ma and Gabor Lorant Architects (GLA). My most noted project at GLA was the ASU Student Recreation Center, a 78,000sf five story building in downtown Phoenix.
Quinn: I run my own freelance consulting and design business over at QuinnWhissen.com. I work with small businesses and entrepreneurs to develop content marketing strategies, web sites, logos, marketing collateral, and more. I love being my own boss and being able to work with clients who inspire me every day.
How does your work influence your perspective on urban living?
Ryan: Being an architect greatly influences my perspective on urban living. Before moving out to Arizona and studying architecture I lived in the suburban neighborhoods of Michigan. Strip malls and cookie cutter houses made up the repertoire of architecture that was my life. Studying and practicing architecture has educated me in the realms of building design, urban planning, sustainability, and much more. With it has come an appreciation for architecture designed with respect to the environment, the user, and the community.
Quinn: My business wouldn’t even have happened without living and working within Central Phoenix and Downtown. I got my first clients by going to coffee shops like Lux and Songbird, and everything has grown from those small moments. The community may be smaller than other cities, but it is full of talent, and without the network I’ve been able to create by living here, I wouldn’t be able to say that I work full time for myself. Also, my job is in a creative field, and I’m surrounded by people who have a mission and work hard to bring it to life. By being around this energy day in and day out, it’s motivated me to further my own visions and start something I can be proud of for a long time to come.
What is one thing that has influenced your life outlook?
Ryan: “Recognizing the need is the primary condition for design.” This quote by Charles Eames captures the single most important concept that has driven both my life and beliefs to where they are now. When I began my venture from the suburbs of Michigan to Phoenix, Arizona to attend the School of Architecture at Arizona State University I had no idea that my world was about to be turned upside down. Over the eight years to come, through both academics along with my travels, I would be transformed into a complete urbanite, not only turning my back on the suburbs, but actively working to support their decline.
Now enter in Charles Eames quote. It is imperative, not only for the future of the planet but for the future of societies, that people recognize the need for urban environments and the decline of the suburbs. We need to break the perception that the only suitable place to raise a family is in the suburbs. If we can succeed in that, enriched and diverse communities will become the norm and our planet will suffer less from deforestation and global warming.
Quinn: I’d say the philosophy of yoga has influenced me a lot. The main tenet I resonate with is that awareness is the biggest factor in change. And not just surface change, but total transformation. Transformation within yourself is where it starts, but awareness can also lead to a wider transformation within groups of people. Mindlessness leads to disease, destruction and hurt. It all starts with coming aware of the current situation, understanding the causes (but not attaching yourself to them), and working to break through false beliefs and barriers in order to ultimately find freedom. This extends to my efforts with This Could Be PHX along with my own personal life journey.
How do you spend your free time?
Ryan: When I need a break from architecture I like to occupy my time in many other ways outside the realm of design. The winters in Phoenix provide the perfect weather for bike rides in the city while a two-hour drive north puts me on the snowy slopes of Snow Bowl where I spend the day snowboarding. I love a challenge and fixed gear road bikes offer me the perfect amount of it. The strength needed to completely control your bike with yours legs along with the endurance needed to ride and never coast makes riding a bike more than just a mode of transportation for me. When snowboarding, I’m rarely content with a leisurely ride down the mountain. Instead, I’m always on the hunt for a steep and fast ride. If there are jumps to hit, then I’m even happier. When I’m not doing something active you can usually find me at the local coffee house or in the park reading. If I was not an architect I would definitely be a scientist. I am always reading about cosmology, evolution, biology, neuroscience, anthropology, religion and urban planning among other things.
Quinn: Yoga is a huge part of my life. I spent a year in a teacher training program, and still working toward my 500 Hour certification. It has given me an outlet to maintain my balance, health, and just have fun. When it’s not 110 degrees out, I love to hike any of the mountains around our awesome city. There are so many to choose from, but my favorite is Echo Canyon on Camelback Mountain.
I also volunteer for Free Arts of Arizona, an amazing organization that works with homeless shelters around the Valley to promote healing for kids through art, dance, drama, etc. I work with 5 & 6 year olds in a mentor group once a week, where we create different crafts and art pieces, all while exploring a safe space for the children to express themselves. I’m very passionate about art therapy and helping children discover that they have so much potential within them.
Where you do live?
Ryan: Both Quinn and I live in a historic building in the Roosevelt Neighborhood. I love the convenience, walkability, and location, with coffee shops, parks, public spaces, restaurants, historic buildings, and more. Plus, it’s a 10 minute bike ride to my work, so you can’t beat the commute!
Quinn: I live in the best spot in town around Roosevelt and Central. I’m a homegrown Phoenician who went to high school in Central Phoenix at Xavier College Prep. I never thought I would be back in Phoenix after living in LA for 6 years and attending Loyola Marymount University, but Downtown Phoenix captured my heart when I moved back in 2010. I wouldn’t have guessed Phoenix would become a city I wanted to live in, or be a huge proponent for, but here I am, loving it…
What are a few of your favorite spots to go to Downtown?
Ryan: Crescent Ballroom – A great mid-size concert venue that brings in some of the best musicians around. Plus, they have great drinks, food and a big patio great during the cooler part of the year.
Lola Coffee – Super close to me and serves up delicious vanilla lattes. A great Downtown vibe with a friendly neighborhood feel.
Pomo Pizzeria – A new spot on 1st St. that has scrumptious pizza, great drinks and a nice ambiance.
The Lot: What Should Go Here? – This is a previously vacant lot that has been activated by community leaders to be a revolving public art and event space. I love what this stands for and it directly relates to our mission here at This Could Be PHX.
Quinn: Oh gosh, this list can go on forever! But here are a few…
Lux – A little north in Midtown, but I have a soft spot for this hip little spot. I’ve spent many days and nights working there, and have made strong work and personal relationships just from striking up a conversation with someone across the table.
Cibo – Probably my favorite place to eat Downtown. Located in a charming, historic house, with the most delicious pizza…ever.
Rum Bar – You can’t go wrong with awesomely concocted cocktails and a great vibe. The patio in the back is a favorite of mine.
Civic Space Park – I like going to the Civic Space park right in the heart of Downtown. It’s a great space to read, relax, join in on an event and get a great view of the rest of the city. I must say, I do love the “jellyfish” like sculpture lit up at night.