Q&A with Hugues Voisine
Q. When did you know you wanted to become an architect?
HV. “Growing up in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region, I spent my childhood building cabins in the woods! We weren’t even playing in them after, we weren’t interested, but the simple act of building, putting together materials and creating spaces satisfied me! I should add that I grew up in the 80’s when at the time it was okay to let children go with tools in the woods to build cabins! Today it would be a different story. When I was young, I was always drawn to construction, drawing and mathematics, and architecture seemed to me to be the profession that most suited all of these interests.”
Q. How has teleworking changed the role of the architect in a nutshell?
HV. “The COVID-19 pandemic has made video conferencing way much more accessible and has forced businesses to digitalize their way of working faster than expected. This tool, which we did not use a lot, has become a widespread common mean of communication and makes the job a lot easier! Although face-to-face meetings remain more enjoyable and productive, these new technological tools eliminate travel constraints and therefore make time management easier and more organic. The architect was and remains today the manager in a project and brings together the various contributors, proposes solutions, etc. This role has not changed, just the medias used to do so.”
Q. What does the typical working day of an architect look like?
HV. “Without wanting to bust the myth, I would say lots and lots of emails. Outlook is my best friend! says Hugues with humor before resuming more seriously.
Straightaway, we have to draw a distinction between a conceptual architect and a project manager architect. Personally, I do more project management today. Having the role of being the resource person, it requires having in mind all the information constituting the project. In the end, the role of the project manager is, amongst other things, to communicate and transfer the right information to the right people. A project can involve dozens of participants, or even hundreds, so communication and organization are crucial and key.”
Q. What is your favorite phase of a project?
HV. “My favorite part is when things come to fruition, materialize and start to take place.”
Q. If you had any advice for someone who dreams of becoming an architect?
HV. “I even have two! The first piece of advice I’ll give is “Learn to manage your time early on. Not just to increase productivity but above all to save enough time to take care of yourself ”.
Then, “keep your ears wide open and listen to everything that is going on around you whether on a construction site, in the office, or when meeting a client”. Paying attention to what is going on around you allows you to fully understand a situation, a dynamic. School and internships teach us a lot about this profession, but you should never underestimate the importance of what you can see or hear.”
Q. What is the most significant project that you have carried out at LemayMichaud?
HV. “My first one! It was the Simons store in Mississauga. I was struck by the high quality and attention to detail in the design, both for the building envelope and for the interior made in collaboration with the design firm Figure 3.”
Q. Based on your experience with office layout projects, do you have any ideas on the pandemic impact on such projects?
HV. “I sincerely believe that home working will remain after the pandemic, and that companies will move towards a hybrid system between telework and face-to-face. Private companies and even public ones will increasingly turn to new methods that will improve their ability to retain qualified employees, a key issue for many of them. Beyond improving the atmosphere and the functionality of the workspace, we are now aiming to decompartmentalization and democratization of natural light and increasing the number of meeting places in office projects. Ultimately some clients will choose to turn to Activity-Based Working, an arrangement in which there is no assigned space, but rather a thoughtful space, organized and sub-divided according to the work to be done, the required level of collaboration, the desired atmosphere, etc. There are many possibilities. I believe in this way that our post-pandemic challenge will be to promote a new way of thinking and designing spaces so that users feel like they come work at the office by choice rather than by obligation.”
Q. What architectural work would you like to be the author of?
HV. “Even after almost 20 years, I am still impressed by Norman Foster’s ‘London Gherkin’ for its elegance despite its relatively simple volume.”
Q. Do you have anything to add?
HV. “Absolutely! I would like to take this opportunity to mention the great respect I have for construction craftsmen and workers! The work of all these technicians, designers, architects would have no value without the talent and know-how of construction workers.(meme bug qu’en francais) A project runs much better when a relationship of trust is established so that all problems can be resolved with the collaboration of everyone and without confrontation. For me, a respectful and equality-based work environment is key for efficient and enjoyable work.”
Develop or create? Develop
Dreamy or realistic? Realistic
What makes you want to wake up in the morning? My children
Favorite part of your job? Meet people !
What achievement are you most proud of? My family !
Do you have a philosophy that guides you today? The only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time
Black and white or colors? Black & White
Mies van der Rohe or Frank Gehry? Definitely Mies Van der Rohe.