Today’s ‘Five Minutes With’ features Awards for Excellence finalist Dan Kaplan, Senior Partner at FXCollaborative who tells us how his mother’s entrepreneurial spirit gave him an insider look into the design industry, tips he received from the late Jack Rudin and why he is proud of 35XV, which has been nominated in the Mixed-Use Development category.
Who has had the greatest influence on your career and what was the best advice he or she gave you?
“I have had the good fortune to have some wonderful influences, especially from my family. My mother was one of the first female students in Industrial Design at the Art Institute of Chicago. She worked on early designs for the fork lift and spent a summer at Taliesin with Frank Lloyd Wright. When I was growing up, she had a thriving Interior Design practice, which she ran out of our house. It gave me the opportunity to see up-close all the ups and downs – of a life in design.”
“As far as the best or should I say the most memorable advice I received was from the late real estate developer Jack Rudin. When I first became a partner, he took me to lunch at his famed corner table at the Four Seasons and asked me: “Dan, are you a thinking architect or a spending architect?” I am still trying to sort that one out.”
What qualities do you think are essential to be an effective leader?
“First, to listen. Really try to understand a person’s question/issue and the question behind the question/issue – this is really important. Second, think out loud. It makes transparent what is usually implied and less clear. It also has the advantage of teaching by example. Lastly, work hard and sweat the details. If you won’t get into the hard stuff, why should the folks who work for you?”
As a ULI NY Awards nominee, what makes you most proud of your project?
“This was a such a collaborative effort: the developer (Alchemy), Xavier High School, the zoning/land use attorney (Melanie Myers of Fried frank), the structural engineer (Severud Associates) and my very talented team all worked energetically through many, many iterations. The result is a totally unique building that created value for the developer, contributed to the vitality of a great institution and added a striking design to the skyline.”