They say diamonds are forever. And when combined with an NYIT degree, they can be the gateway to a brilliant architectural career.
For Phil Bottega (B.S. ’84), working at world-renowned jeweler Tiffany & Co. meant thinking outside the box. “I took a chance and said, ‘I’m going to try something different and see what it’s like,” says the NYIT graduate, who practiced architecture alongside two other NYIT alumni before joining the global jeweler in 1988.
At Tiffany, Bottega worked his way up from manager of store planning and director of facilities to managing real estate, design, construction, and property management at all of Tiffany’s buildings as vice president of real estate worldwide.
For 20 years, Phil Bottega (B.S. ’84) designed projects for Tiffany & Co., including its prominent location at 37 Wall Street in New York City (above).
“I had the good fortune of traveling around the world,” says the Brooklyn, N.Y., native. His responsibilities took him to the United Kingdom, Europe, the Middle East, South America, and Asia. He says his favorite projects were the ones that taught him how local geography and culture influence everything from materials to design to construction.
In the city of Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories, for example, Bottega and his staff were charged with designing and building a 15,000-square-foot diamond-polishing facility. They found themselves wrestling with temperatures of 40 degrees below freezing, which posed many challenges when it came to transporting building materials. Arrangements had to be made for the steel and other elements to be trucked in from warmer regions, which included transporting them over frozen lakes and rivers. And on a personal level, Bottega had to make sure the car he drove was equipped with special equipment to prevent the engine block from freezing and cracking.
On the other side of the world, Bottega found himself at odds with the heat and humidity of Hanoi, Vietnam, when it came to building a diamond-cutting facility.
“The temperatures in this area were very hot, and the building had to be air-conditioned, which was not something the local employees were used to,” he says. His team also worked with local authorities and development companies to build the 75,000-square-foot building with an adjacent dining facility and management housing.
“We learned a great deal from this project—how to build in this part of the world, how to get materials into the country, and how to work in a design-build capacity while respecting the local codes and rules in what was basically a communist, government-controlled city.”
Before leaving Tiffany in 2008, Bottega’s responsibilities had grown to include more than 200 locations in 20 countries around the world. Today, he works as deputy head of facilities at Société Genéralé in Manhattan, where he oversees facilities operations and construction for the French bank’s locations across the United States. And while his globetrotting days may be fewer in number, Bottega’s dedication to his craft has never faltered.
“I’ve had a passion for architecture since I was a little boy,” he says. At NYIT, that passion transformed into practical knowledge and expertise, and now, more than 25 years later, he continues to reap the rewards of his education.
“My career is much more than what I expected,” he says. His global projects at Tiffany and his national work through Société Genéralé have provided him with opportunities to interact with other cultures, foster business relationships with local partners, and fulfill a lifelong dream that he shares with thousands of other NYIT architects—that is, to build a better world for the 21st century.