MAF scholarship winner Alexander Sulek credits a series of childhood experiences for cultivating his interest in design and architecture. “As with many of my peers, my interest in architecture began when I built with Legos, made forts, and played the video game Rollercoaster Tycoon,” said Alex. “Then my parents had an addition built for our home, and I liked the synergy of the designers and contractors working together. I didn’t yet know what an architect was, but it piqued my interest in creating spaces.”
Alex received two 2020 MAF scholarships: the Paul Stachowiak/Integrated Design Solutions (IDS) Scholarship, awarded to a student who aspires to a career reflecting a holistic and integrated practice of the highest standards of the architectural profession; and the Kenneth Neumann Scholarship, awarded to Alex based on the excellence of his student portfolio.
This fall, Alex started the final year of his graduate architecture program at the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. “In my scholarship application, I wrote about my interest in a career that synthesizes business and architecture,” said Alex. “I believe this integrative business model can dynamically lead to better design outcomes that satisfy all stakeholder concerns.”
Alex plans to pursue a career path which combines architecture and real estate development. “I interned for two summers at a real estate development firm, and learned that compelling design characteristics are often value engineered out of projects due to budgetary constraints,” he says. “But design adds value that an Excel sheet cannot quantify. I’m interested in creating iconic yet functional architecture that delivers great design while being cost effective.” In addition to his architectural program studies, Alex also is completing a graduate certificate in real estate development through University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.
The opportunity for a diverse professional career is one of the things Alex appreciates most about the field of architecture. “Training as an architect provides the skill set to work at various scales and create experiences on multiple levels – from designing furniture to the urban scale of entire city blocks,” he says. “It’s a profession that’s always being re-invented through new ideas, technology, and the influence of current events, and one which has the potential to impact our lives in a variety of forms.”
How does Alex think architecture enriches life? “Architecture is unique because it gives us the ability to create environments that people want to be in and want to come back to, while adding value to communities” he says. “Good design also strongly impacts the way we feel and the experiences we have while we are inhabiting a space. With 90% of our lives spent in buildings, architecture is a key mechanism for curating people’s well-being.”
Below, clockwise from left: Alex presenting in class; a candid photo of Alex; an image from Alex’s design portfolio.