Q: Federico, you have 25 years of experience as a designer and architect in Argentina and Washington D.C., both working for firmsand as business owner. Could you please share with our readers some insights into your career? 
I came to Washington D.C. in December 2000 from Argentinawhere I had my own firm with my wife who is also an architect. In Argentina we worked on a whole variety of projects, ranging from single family houses, apartment buildings, hotels, and master planning. When we both came to the U.S., I started working at the architecture firm SK&I. I stayed there for almost 19 years, focusing on multifamily and mixed-use projects that included grocery stores and retail. 
My passion has always been planning. A year into my job with SK&I, I inherited and led the planning division and also had the opportunity to lead many architectural projects up and down the East Coast. 
Q-You helped kickstart MOYA three years ago. What made you take the leap? 
My decision to come to MOYA was a natural step in my career. Dont get me wrong, I was a principal at SK&I, and I had a big responsibility there, but the next step is to become partner of an architectural firm. MOYA offered me that option – I could come in and make decisions, both design-wise and in the direction of the company. This was vital to me because I put my soul into what I do, and I want to feel part of something larger. I don’t want to be an outsider. Isn’t it everyone’s ultimate goal to be your own boss?  
Everybody works for someone else and in their mind, they are always asking: What would be the ideal job? How would you like your boss to be? How would you like your environment to be? And after all those years working for another company, I knew exactly what I wanted my firm to be.  


The second DCHA project is in NoMa, North of Massachusetts, a thriving area of the city. The building will be opposite the existing DCHA office building. The first phase includes four hundred and thirty residential rental units, of which 20 percent will be affordable housing units. When the DCHA moves their headquarters to the site where we did the master planning, their current office building will be demolished and used for the other two phases of the NoMa project. There will be about 600 to 700 more units in that same block. It is a massive, massive project, with over a thousand housing units


Q-What did you want your firm to be? 
It is crucial that the leadership of a firm understands that there is not only work, and that people have totally different backgrounds.  
Then, it’s fundamental to believe in what the firm does, and not try to second guess what a client would like. Shoot for the moon! Go with your best ideas! We all understand that projects have budgets, and we need to meet them; however, as designers we ought to go with the mindset that design can really make all the difference 
It is also important that everyone involved in a project feels their opinions matter. The design process cannot be exclusively top bottom. Feedback from the people you work with matters and is often the key to finding solutions.  
  Architecture is a way of living and just as it gives me the tools to support my family and grow professionally, it also allows me to give back to others. As an immigrant who understands how hard it is to get started in this country and set up a company, helping others is something that is dear to me. 
At MOYA, we want to give back to the community; whether it is through pro-bono work, or engaging developers with organizations so they can create synergies on a project. We have been blessed to work on projects like Diane’s House, which was 100 percent affordable housing, and La Clinica del Pueblo, a nonprofit medicaclinic that helps the Latino community as a whole. We also worked with the District Alliance for Safe Housing (DASH), an organization that provides transitional housing for women and families that were subject to domestic abuse, and created the Downtown Day Services Center, a beautiful drop-in center for individuals who are experiencing homelessness.  
Q: Tell us about your work with the DC Housing Authority (DCHA). 
I have been involved in two projects with the DCHAOne is a master planning job where we assisted the DCHA in evaluating the last three blocks of a much bigger development. Our team evaluated what was the realistic scope of the remaining three sites and presented the DCHA with several options.  It is usual for local government agencies to partner with firms from the private sector for these evaluationsWe helped DCHA maximize the value of the land, and get the optimal number of housing units, while also considering its impact and sustainability. Master planning is crucial, because it provides a long-range vision of how the city is going to grow, so it needs to be thorough and flexible. 
The second DCHA project is in NoMa, North of Massachusetts, a thriving area of the cityThe building will be opposite the existing DCHA office building. The first phase includes four hundred and thirty residential rental units, of which 20 percent will be affordable housing units. When the DCHA moves their headquarters to the site where we did the master planning, their current office building will be demolished and used for the other two phases of the NoMa project. There will be about 600 to 700 more units in that same block. It is a massive, massive project, with over a thousand housing units.  
This development will also have a unique design. As part of MOYA, always wanted to push design; when we presented this project to the clients, we told them that we understood that budget is a reality, and presented three or four different alternatives, but we recommended the one that we’re doing. Our recommended design was probably pushing the limits of what is around, and also the limits on the budget, but there’s always a way to scale back. The clients recognized that it was the most solid design, and the most daring. The design is very contextual, but it’s also refreshing and different. It has a lot of glass and has an interesting combination of elements that go back and forth. 


“We are an interdisciplinary firm, which is uncommonWe have graphic designers, we have content writers, we have people that come from different backgrounds and different countries. It creates a much more rounded product and is much more diverse from every perspective, from backgrounds, but also diverse in terms of design. It brings freshness to the design.” 


Q-You are also working on a project for the Headquarters of the Department of General Services (DGS)? 
The DGS Headquarters is a project on which we’re working in collaboration with another architecture firm, Perkins Eastman DC. We thought that MOYA would be working on the interiors and they would be doing the basic building design. But then we learned that DGS wanted us to do both at the same time and work as a single firm. At MOYA, I’m the design principal, but in this synergy between these two firms, I’m more of a project architect, which is the more technical aspect of the design.  
I was able to provide some input on the design and provide a few ideas that were very well received by the client and our partner company; both agreed that it was a good solution for the exterior design of the building.  
Q: What were some of the solutions you implemented? 
Basically, the treatment of the facade, because you can treat a facade in a million ways. The client was very specific that the project needed to be of a certain material which is precast concrete. This is a very heavy system and feels more massive than glass. 
What we did was create different textures with the precast. There is a dose of it within the same panel, to make it look less massive. There’s a break in the same panel where one portion has a texture, the other does not. There are two different colors and we played with the way windows articulate, so that the windows are arranged to look like a random pattern, but there’s nothing random about it. It’s almost a mathematical equation, it is very precise because office buildings have a precise rhythm; they need to be organized in five-foot increments, a cubicle size. But when you look at the facade, it looks very random and fresh, like someone threw windows at the building.  
Q-Where do you see MOYA going? 
That’s a great question! My hope is that we continue the line that we have had for these past three years. The sky’s the limit for us. We started with three people less than three years ago, and now we’re almost 40 people. We have created a studio where it’s safe to express your opinions, where everybody is important, and their designs and ideas are respected and evaluated as real options.  
We are also an interdisciplinary firm, which is uncommon. We have graphic designers and content writerswe have people that come from different backgrounds and different countries. It creates a much more rounded product and is much more diverse from every perspective, from backgrounds, but also diverse in terms of design. It brings freshness to the design. 
Obviously, we would like to be recognized as important architects, but that’s not the priority in my mind. I want to feel satisfied with what I’m doing. And if it provides me with joy, and I can make a living, then that’s what I need.  
I think we have a bright, bright future ahead of us because we are reaching out to companies, and other firms are reaching out to partner with us. That’s a very telling sign that what we do is getting recognition. 
Thank you, Federico!