Darguin Fortuna AIA
Principal, Architect, Flow Design Architects
In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, the BSA is featuring Profiles on Hispanic and Latinx architects in the profession.
Degree(s): Bachelor of Architecture
Professional interests: Workplace design, residential design, education and research
What is the greatest challenge you have faced as a Hispanic or Latinx person in the field of architecture and design?
To believe I can be an architect when many folks including close family members thought the profession was not for someone from such humble roots. It is hard to believe one could shift a family and heritage paradigm, when role models are nowhere to be found.
How has your heritage shaped who you are today?
Without doubt my heritage is filled with hope, colors, happiness and a track record of overcoming obstacles. It comes in handy as an architect to look at the world through the eyes of hopefulness, passion and sazon criollo Dominicano.
What advice would you give to Hispanic and Latinx students or emerging professionals in the architecture and design industries?
Stay together, seek mentorship and embrace your roots as an asset. Nobody brings such values and beliefs into the table as you do. At last, give back and help others along the way.
What is a meaningful way that your culture shapes your work?
Oddly enough, our music and language shapes how we perceive space. We tend to use words and sounds that mean what we spatially feel about architecture and design. Our vocabulary of music, words and sounds really come through in one form or another as we design and make space.
If you could give the you of 10 years ago advice, what would it be?
When walking towards a path, problem or circumstance for which you have no clue how it will unfold, be honest and have faith that it all will work out. It always has and it always will, just do not give up.
Who or what deserves credit for your success?
The team around me, Julio Gutierrez, Marcos Severino, Bill Burns and folks who somehow believed in me and encouraged me to go forward. Better yet, some joined me in my craziest ideas and have faith with me. It has worked out well for everyone thanks to God of course.
What has been your most proud moment as an architect?
The moment I became one which is shared with the birthday of my daughter Eviana Isabel Fortuna. I got licensed for the first time that very same morning and realized the greatness of humanity as I watched my little princess be born.
What do you hope to contribute from your work?
I hope to set a precedent for the many minorities to come of what is possible in the industry and that they belong here and have a place here. Our work really wants to invite those less fortunate into shifting the world around for the better.
What is the most effective step you’ve taken in your work toward a more sustainable built environment?
Flow Design Architects has more and more used information, surveys, and experience to refine our design process so that we get most things right the first few rounds. This means less energy use throughout all of our practice from meeting times, computing power time, to design thinking time and construction processes. Refining the way things are done using our own database of AI much like Amazon and Google as they track our very existence can bring forward outcomes that should be predictable while leaving design thinking and exploration time for those elements of our existence that have not been explored yet.
Whom do you most enjoy partnering with on a project?
The most particular clients with a high level of self-awareness and refined sense of thinking which ultimately challenges me to join them into a journey of self-discovery. Those clients which are the exception and less typical, truly challenge me and question me. It is a fun roller coaster but creative ideas always come through as a byproduct of the friction, frustration and confusion. We tend to end up solving the problem together.
Where do you find inspiration?
Mostly everything frustrating and just common sense wrong, inspires me. I find myself resolving the problem of other business from a user perspective because of such annoying awareness of what is wrong around me. In general, I do not overlook the everyday mundane and also do appreciate when things just work well. It makes me wonder why and how such thing, situation or artifact would be improved.
What are you reading right now?
A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows Through Loss. I have had a lot of personal events that proved to be the most remarkable learning experiences through moments in which I really thought I was lost or had lost.