What Happens When You Love Your Job

Jul 21 • Architects, VANCOUVER • 836 Views • No Comments on What Happens When You Love Your Job

By Phil Roberts

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Even with all the innovation that surrounds us meant to facilitate our lives and save time, there are still not enough hours in a day. In many professions, faster computers gave people more time, which allowed them to do more work, which ultimately left them with less time. Vancouver-based Tony Robins, like many architects, experience this irony on daily basis.

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“My wife and I work 24 hour days,” he quips,  “Juggling 16 active projects comes with age.” British-born, but very much Canadian, Robins overcomes his lack of sleep by staying motivated everyday to produce something creative.

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For many years, this meant running a firm and a prefab company called Preform Construction. With the latter, Robins filled a void in the marketplace. There were other designers who were in the prefab space, but he wanted to go a few steps further. “Jennifer Siegle in San Francisco did prefabs, preparing the volumes, but they weren’t finished. We wanted to do a complete finish.”

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A common misconception about prefab construction is that it’s cheaper. It is more environmental, faster to built, but definitely not cheaper. “In our projects, everything was of the highest quality, right down to the tiling. We did 100 modules in 3 years, but it was too much. We found it too difficult to handle architecture and a factory at the same time. I’d rather just be in architecture.”

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His dual role as the designer of houses and the manager of fabrication, prevented him from refining the designs as much as he would have liked. In contrast,  the time he spent in Japan during the mid-1990s allowed him to explore that country’s architecture in a profound manner.  “I did a lot of restaurants in Japan, so for the ones in Vancouver, it was like doing a microcosm of the Japanese aesthetic with my take on that.”  With more time, he not only did the shell and the space, but also the graphic design and waitress costumes.

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Robins, who is also a screenwriter and an artist, believes that his talents influence each other. “One of the things I have been looking at is the effect of context on meaning,” he explains. As an architect, he views the meaning and creation of space as more of a facade issue. The joy of the design comes from being immersed in the work on a micro level, using all the advantages available. And just like that, you don’t even see the time passing.

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