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How Did I End Up Here?

Updated: Apr 28, 2021

I’m confident it might seem strange for an architectural professional who had the privilege of spending over a decade in corporate practice to veer into an “alternative” path. However, my passion for advocating for the immense value an architect’s voice brings to technology innovation required me to be creative with my career track. Our industry, architectural practices particularly, is faced with a myriad of challenges. Digital transformation is one topic that stirs strong emotions — especially considering that the AEC industry ranks next to last, above agriculture, in the digitalization index.

I grew up in San Germán, Puerto Rico, and pursued a Bachelor of Architecture at the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico, where I graduated Cum Laude in 2007. I've benefited from working alongside industry leaders at Gensler, NIKA Solutions (formerly NIKA Architects + Engineers), and an Associate / Project Manager at WDG Architecture. After practicing in corporate architecture for the past 12 years, Ricardo recently transitioned into a Global Virtual Design & Construction Specialist role at MBCC Group (formerly BASF). I was also an inaugural scholar and served as Chair of AIA|DC’s Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program, one of the most rewarding career opportunities. At AIA|DC, I also served as Chair of AIA|DC’s Emerging Architect’s Committee, guest lectured for AIA's Leadership Institute, local institutions, and even mentor a couple of startups.

Due to my leadership trajectory, I was awarded AIA|DC's Emerging Architect of the Year, Young Architect of the Year Award by the DC Council of Engineering and Architectural Societies, and was selected as one of the 60 nationwide attendees for the YAF’s Practice Innovation Lab. A frequent industry speaker and panelist, I've presented “Rage Against the Machines: Surviving the End of Architecture” at AIA’s Conference on Architecture 2018 in June, speaking on “Modern Times - AEC Business Transformation in the Era of AR/VR,” and a panelist at VRX Conference & Expo 2018 in San Francisco.

For my work with startups and AEC tech innovation, in 2018, I was honored by BuiltWorlds, as one of the Nation’s Top 50 Adoption Leaders.

When tallied up, between 2018 through 2021, I had the opportunity to speak at 30+ National & International events. Given my commitment to thought-leadership and advocacy within the industry, AIA National elected me to serve on the Strategic Council as an At-Large Representative in 2020-2021. The AIA National Board of Directors also honored me as AIA / Collateral Board Liaison to the American Institute of Architecture Students organization, a role I'll serve until 2023.

My current position at MBCC Group has provided me with the opportunity to work along with multidisciplinary professionals across the globe. The tech revolution, and the market disruption that comes with it, are now upon us. Though fueled by the novelty factor, tech leadership is directly related to our relevance in the market and tied to sustainable business practices. Increasingly a significant number of stakeholders are expanding their scope into our traditional roles. Consequently, we cannot be idle while value and ROI are measured exclusively in currency. More trained architects are needed at the tech development table to transform policy and progress with social responsibility.

Designers are experts are in crafting a vision, adding value, and creating consensus. The AIA is crucial in this undertaking as we define a clear stance in our relationship with digital transformation. When we talk about overcoming the issues of climate change, equity, diversity, inclusion, and architectural education, the discourse usually spends little time on "the how."

We can make little progress if we continue to ignore that we need effective digital tools, data, solutions, programs, education, and resources to alleviate these problems.

Thus, I intend to use my leadership platform to bring visibility to these and accelerate action.

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