Gaining Resiliency in Architecture with Dan Horn

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On today’s episode of the Young Architect Podcast, Michael spoke with, Dan Horn, on the importance of resiliency and how it can help communities survive and thrive after global climate disasters.

You can also listen to this podcast on YouTube by clicking here! 

Dan Horn

Just like the Young Architect Podcast Host, Michael Riscica, Dan also went to the New York Institute of Technology to study architecture and graduated from there in 2013.

Dan became interested in architecture from a young age by playing with classic building toys such as LEGOs. While in high school, he participated in Stage Crew and attended art portfolio classes. Eventually, Dan was promoted to Master Carpenter of his Stage Crew team and helped to create and build stage sets for performances.

When Hurricane Sandy hit the New York City coast, Dan and several other NYIT students took part to volunteer to help restore the communities. Dan and his fellow classmates were determined to do even more to help and very soon the Operation Resilient Long Island (ORLI) team was born.

Together they know that helping the East Coast recover from Hurricane Sandy was something much bigger than themselves. They decided to invite architecture students from all over the world to participate in their 3C Competition (Comprehensive Coastal Communities). Over 300 teams from 20 different countries presented 60 different designs.

Today, Dan continues his mission to make us all think more about being resilient by presenting case studies and situations at different AIAS workshops.

What You’ll Hear on This Episode

  • How playing with LEGOs and similar toys as a child inspired Dan to become an architect.
  • Why Dan chose to study at NYIT and his experience studying abroad in Scandinavia (Finland, Denmark, and Sweden).
  • Dan’s experience with Hurricane Sandy and how it inspired him to focus more on a career in architecture.
  • Dan’s great interest in taking on jobs and projects to help restore Long Island, New York and the rest of the East Coast after Hurricane Sandy.
  • How Hurricane Sandy personally affected Dan and his family.
  • What Dan and other NYIT students did to give back to the Long Island community by offering to help with architecture via Operation Resilient Long Island (ORLI) including a global design ideas competition – 3C: Comprehensive Coastal Community.
  • How ORLI has grown to help communities in the Philippines and what the team continues to do today to continue to learn and teach about resiliency.
  • How Dan’s AIAS workshops were created to help students think more about resiliency by studying different case studies and situations from around the world related to climate.
  • Dan’s top role models and who has influenced his architecture education and career the most: Frank Mruck and Illya Azaroff.

Top 3 Takeaways from This Episode

  • Get a lot of sleep because you always need your energy. Don’t stay up late working on a project, but rather go to bed early and get a good night’s rest. Otherwise it will be very difficult to actually get anything else done the next day.
  • Any experience that allows you to help many people and create resilient architectural designs is great experience. Don’t just take any job and always put your best foot forward.
  • Resiliency is so important to keep in mind when creating new structures for sustainable buildings. Climate can really affect how we live and where we call home. By creating resilient architectural structures, we can really make a difference in other people’s lives.

Dan Horn’s Advice for Aspiring Architects

“Don’t settle for less than your best. I was furloughed for about six months and I pushed through that and continued to work for the same firm. Even though I wasn’t making any money, I had great connections and I had a wonderful team. Stick to your guns and don’t settle for something that comes up quick or an easy job.”

Favorite Quotes

“Hurricane Sandy really pushed me to focus on resiliency during the beginning of my career.” – Dan Horn on his experience with Hurricane Sandy

“As architecture students, we like to enter design competitions to get our name out there and start getting ready for life after school. However, we wanted to do the opposite and host a design competition to bring a lot of architects and designers from around the world to look at this problem. We wanted to create something that was larger than ourselves and would live on.” – Dan Horn on the reason behind Operation Resilient Long Island and the 3C: Comprehensive Coastal Community global design competition.

“If your building is covered in sand and someone is digging until they unveil it, what’s going to be the thing that tells someone, ‘Oh this is that person’s design or that’s this building.’ What’s going to be the thing that people will identify with your work and what’s a marketing strategy that no one else is using right now in the design process?” – Frank Mruck on how to help your work stand out.

“As a young architect in this generation, we have to pick up the pieces and really fill that gap of leadership to get people connected.” – Dan Horn

“There is a big difference between architectural school and the actual practice. I didn’t really learn too much in my professional practice class nor did they touch upon what you have to know for the AREs. If I would’ve known what I know now back then, I think I would probably already have my license. Now I have to do a lot of the work myself, but I’m getting through it.” – Dan Horn on his experience in school and doing the AREs.

Resources Mentioned in the Show

You can also listen to this podcast on YouTube by clicking here! 

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About the author

Michael Riscica

Michael Riscica is a Licensed Architect who lives in beautiful Portland, Oregon, with his Labrador Retriever. He is passionate about helping Young Architects change the world. In his free time, Michael likes to take very long bicycle rides across America. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Linked In.