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Championing a Brighter Tomorrow: Architect Vishwesh Panchal’s Unshakeable Dedication to Sustainable Design

In contemporary architecture, the worldwide climate emergency has reshaped the landscape. Sustainability has emerged as a fundamental guiding principle in design, leading architects to reevaluate the process of construction. For Viswhesh Panchal, the approach to addressing the climate crisis begins with a practice focused on processes.

Prior to his current role at Arcadis, Panchal held positions at renowned architecture firms such as Lord, Aeck, Sargent, Perkins+Will. He has developed a values-based approach to architectural design that strives to tackle one of the most urgent issues of our time. The result is the creation of refined, powerful, and sustainable architecture brought to life with grace and skill.

Panchal’s career has centered not only on the construction of new energy-efficient structures but also on the reworking of existing building stock to craft climate-resilient and visually appealing spaces. His remarkable portfolio speaks for itself. Vishwesh has shared his early sources of inspiration, the mission he pursues, and what it takes to thrive as an architect today:

MG: When did you realize that becoming an architect was your vocation? 

Vishwesh: My mother, an artist deeply connected to aesthetics, exposed me to creativity from a young age. Observing her turn a blank canvas into a masterpiece sparked my admiration for the intersection of art and life. My father, a skilled builder, instilled in me the values of exactness and usefulness. Exploring the architectural marvels of my hometown, Vadodara, India, further uncovered the transformative potential of architecture. These encounters laid the groundwork for my future in the field.

MG: Have there been any individuals or experiences that have molded your distinctive artistic perspective?

Vishwesh: An encounter with architect Balkrishna Doshi at his Sangath studio in Ahmadabad, India, left an enduring impression on me. Navigating its awe-inspiring spaces revealed the fusion of form and function. Doshi’s insights reignited my purpose. I channel my passion through sketching, capturing the essence of places. Studying architecture in the U.S., especially under Professor Henry Sorenson at Montana State University, further shaped my artistic perspective and skills.

MG: Is there a mission or a special message you’re keen to convey through your work? 

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Vishwesh: Absolutely. My career is driven by a profound sense of purpose – to make a positive contribution to the built environment. I advocate the significance of thoughtful, sustainable design that enriches the lives of occupants and interacts with the surrounding context. Promoting a holistic approach, considering environmental impact, community well-being, and aesthetic excellence, is at the core. Each project carries a message, emphasizing spaces that inspire, uplift, and resonate with the human experience.

MG: Reflecting on your journey, what has been a standout moment in your career? 

Vishwesh: Working for globally recognized architecture firms like Lord, Aeck, Sargent, and Perkins+Will on top projects stands out. Contributing to iconic designs, such as the ones for the historic San Felipe De Austin Visitor Center or the preservation of the Travis County Probate Courthouse in Austin, Texas, and witnessing the successful completion of these projects has been immensely gratifying. Other developments, like the Highlands High School in the San Antonio ISD and the McNeil High School in the Round Rock ISD, have also been highlights of my career. The sense of accomplishment when architecture positively impacts people’s lives, whether through a landmark building or a community space, is a source of great pride and joy.

MG: Are there any current projects you are excited about? 

Vishwesh: Being part of the high-rise residential towers for the CPC Kingsway project in Burnaby, B.C., Canada, is truly exhilarating. Contributing to internationally significant projects, thanks to the global presence of Arcadis, the company I now work for, provides unique experiences. Currently, I am also focused on the construction documents of The Hills residential building in Austin, Texas, which will soon enter the site administration phase. The diverse challenges and the prospect of contributing globally while also making a local impact make projects like these truly rewarding.

MG: As an experienced architect, what is the biggest career challenge you had to confront? 

Vishwesh: Securing my architecture license was challenging, particularly balancing a full-time job with the demanding Architect Registration Examination (ARE) exams as an immigrant. The dedication I demonstrated, coupled with the support of my spouse, played a crucial role. A strong support system is significant in navigating such challenges. My unwavering belief in becoming an architect and the positive mindset I cultivated, combined with hard work, propelled me to success. My journey is a testament to determination, belief, and a supportive network in realizing professional aspirations.

MG: What valuable advice would you offer aspiring individuals entering your field? 

Vishwesh: Drawing inspiration from your surroundings and hobbies is key, just as letting your personal interests guide innovative design solutions. Build strong professional relationships—collaboration is inherent in architecture—while learning effective communication skills with clients, colleagues, and stakeholders. Finding a mentor is also invaluable for guidance and personal growth, as learning from someone who has navigated the challenges of the field is instrumental in achieving success in architecture.

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Vishwesh Panchal (b. 1992, India) is a licensed Architect, a LEED Accredited Professional, and a Member of the American Institute of Architects. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Design from Montana State University and graduated with a Master’s Degree in Architecture, specializing in Sustainable Urban Systems, from the University of Houston. Panchal’s career embodies a commitment to sustainable design and architecture. Currently based in Austin, Texas, he has worked on a broad array of projects, many of which have garnered honors and awards for their innovation and dedication to sustainability. From the preservation of historical sites such as the Travis County Probate Courthouse to the expansion of educational institutions like the McNeil High School – Round Rock ISD, he has contributed to creating environmentally responsible and resilient built environments. Panchal has experience with globally recognized architectural firms, including Lord, Aeck, Sargent, as well as Perkins+Will. Now, he works as a Project Architect at Arcadis, developing international high-rise residential plans, like the CPC Kingsway South Phase, while actively collaborating in the planning and coordinating projects for the Association for Learning Environments.

Interviewer: Martha Gutierrez

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