Bringing passion to his work: Get to know Dean Benvenuto
At Kasian, we are proud of the diverse skills and deep sector experience that our various team members bring to our projects and overall community. It is this diversity that empowers us to create a deeper connection between people and place, in turn transforming not only landscapes and buildings, but communities.
Our employee Spotlights serve to introduce some of our high impact and passionate team members, highlight their unique skills, and share their reflections on how design trends are evolving in our changing times.
Spotlight: Dean Benvenuto, Principal
“Even though there are hundreds of us in this national firm, you feel like an individual here, and your opinion matters.”
As a principal at Kasian with nearly three decades of experience, Dean Benvenuto makes it fun to work hard. He has developed his leadership style to help his team find alignment in purpose, working more efficiently and with greater joy. As an architect who also gets hands-on with woodworking and sketching, Dean balances the big picture with the tiny details to deliver transformative projects. We spoke with him about changing cities, expanding horizons, and an evolving industry.
Question & Answer
Q: What made you want to become an architect?
DB: When I was in Grade Five, my grandparents took the family to Italy for two weeks. We stayed with my father’s cousin, who is an architect. He toured us around all the major cities. We saw so many amazing sights and I especially loved the buildings. Seeing the pure joy that my dad’s cousin took in experiencing those cityscapes was transformative for me at that age. That was when I understood what being an architect meant.
Q: What areas of architecture are you most passionate about?
DB: I built my career in the commercial and industrial sector, and I enjoy it because it’s so fast-paced. We tend to work with smaller user groups, and many decisions can be made on the fly. It’s like a symphony with a little bit of rock ‘n’ roll!
Q: What surprises you most about architecture and design?
DB: I’m fascinated how the industry has evolved over the past 30 years: not just the technology, but how we design. Back in the day, you’d have an architect as sort of a maestro, working in a bubble. Now it’s more team-based and collaborative, which unlocks so much talent on both the technical and creative sides.
Q: You work a lot in the industrial sector. What sorts of shifts are you seeing in warehousing and logistics, and how will that affect built form?
DB: The pandemic has changed how those sectors have functioned. You could say that Amazon has reinvented the wheel: distribution centers used to be in the middle of nowhere, whereas now major cities, with industrial districts that don’t suit that big-warehouse model, must somehow fit warehousing facilities into their centers. We’re seeing warehouse spaces go vertical, and also evolving into mixed-use industrial spaces. Existing buildings are getting repurposed as well, all in service of getting everything delivered faster and more efficiently. The concept of the last mile has shifted: customers want to wait hours, not days, for their package to arrive. We have to build intelligent buildings, and it’s an exciting challenge!
Q: Speaking of challenges, what has been the biggest challenge in your career?
DB: Keeping up with the recent graduates, definitely. They’re learning so much more than when my generation went through university! We trained with pen and paper, and they’re starting with the tools that we only got to use later on in our careers. It certainly keeps me on my toes, and I’m always fascinated by the perspectives that emerging designers bring with them!
Q: Can you tell us about a mentor who has shaped your career, and can you share your thoughts on what makes for a great mentor?
DB: John Webster at Stantec Architecture was a huge influence on me. He’s an amazing facilitator and a fantastic listener. In how he carried himself and conducted conversations, he really drove home the value of collaboration. As a mentor now myself, I always keep my door open so I can help my team solve whatever problem they might be facing. I also encourage those who are still deciding whether or not to pursue this career to visit me at Kasian, because I really believe this is the best profession in the world.
Q: What do you like most about working at Kasian?
DB: Even though there are hundreds of us in this national firm, you feel like an individual here, and your opinion matters. That comes from Don Kasian on down. We celebrate each other and treat one another like family.
Q: Outside of work, how do you like to spend your time?
DB: Lots of family time! We love family bike rides and long walks with our wonderful French bulldogs.
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