When Shiva Ghomi (M.S. ’15) started her own architecture firm, she was confident about her skills, her relationships, and her network. What took her by surprise was the hours. “You will never have ‘normal’ hours again, so forget nine to five,” she says about running a business. “You are living your dream by working 24/7!”
Ghomi is no stranger to hard work and commitment. Before getting her master’s in architecture, urban, and regional design in 2015, she already had eight years of professional experience, a bachelor’s degree in architecture, and a master’s degree in urban design from a university in her hometown of Tehran, Iran. “When I moved to the United States in 2011, I was eager to learn more about resilient design, and NYIT was among a few schools in New York that offers an urban planning program with a focus in resiliency,” she explains.
With her NYIT degree in hand, Ghomi has taken her love of resilient design and turned it into a successful career. In 2017, she opened Sparc Office, a boutique firm with locations in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Amsterdam, with her partner Hans Maarten Wikkerink. The pair has a broad range of experience in the construction of single- and multi-family homes as well as the renovation of historic and landmark buildings, both in the city and abroad.
Committed to the idea of “social-cultural resiliency,” Sparc Office is focused on affordable housing projects in New York City. Soon after opening the firm, the company landed a contract to reconstruct of many single- and two-family coastal homes that were destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. They provided design services, obtained New York City Department of Building approvals, and prepared construction documentation for more than 100 homeowners in the city. Their involvement in the recovery efforts helped establish them as a firm. “In our renovation projects we try to combine a sensitivity for historical context with design excellence,” Ghomi says. “We are proud to say that we are very service oriented; our clients and how we can best serve their interests always come first.”
Ghomi says that NYIT helped prepare her for opening her own firm. “I was able to grow and expand my connections through the lectures and events that were set up for graduate students,” she says. “The internship course in the third semester helped me to put what I learned in school in practice and also built up my relationships with professionals in the actual market.”
Ghomi finds working directly with users and clients the most challenging and rewarding part of the job. “Understanding their needs and desires from the design point of view and also working closely with other professions (engineers, city agencies, general contractors) accounts for a lot of the day-to-day challenges I deal with as a designer.” Still, it is all worth it.
Now she is passing on her knowledge to the next generation of architects. Ghomi is an adjunct lecturer at New York City College of Technology of the City University of New York (CUNY).
“Teaching a ‘sustainability’ course at CUNY has given me the chance to motivate, inspire and educate young professionals and help them to see the buildings, neighborhoods, and the city as organic systems and how to do more with less in order to minimize the damage,” she says.
“Creation and innovation have always been the most exciting part of architecture and urban design for me. With my ideas, I am able to build another person’s dreams!”