Bringing passion to her work: Get to know Diana Velasquez
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: Diana Velasquez, Architect
“Architecture can drive change. Thinking outside the box and working with stakeholders – this collaborative process can be very powerful and provides a true opportunity to understand their needs leading to positive impacts far beyond the built environment.”
Since the tender age of ten, Diana Velasquez has aspired to become an architect. Designing her bedroom and playing with LEGO and puzzles as a child has since translated into a Master of Architecture from Carleton University and a robust, multi-faceted architectural career. Based in Toronto, Diana started her career in 2014, joined the Kasian team in 2017, and has been instrumental in several larger healthcare and institutional builds since that time.
Diana is passionate about the human-centric component of the design process. She takes the time to truly understand who will use a given space and what their physical, mental, and emotional requirements look like, with the goal of strengthening a building’s relationship with its end users. This process results in purposeful spaces that serve inhabitants thoroughly, now and into the future.
Diana shares some insights on her architectural journey.
Question & Answer
Q: What drew you to architecture?
DV: I set my mind on being an architect when I was ten years old. It started with me designing my room, and just grew from there. I always loved LEGO and puzzles – any kind of interactive games that involved ‘Tetrising’ things together. So, architecture was a natural fit.
Q: What do you love most about the work you do?
DV: I love seeing how architecture drives change. Thinking creatively and outside the box, working with stakeholders, this collaborative process can be very powerful. It provides a true opportunity to change things for the better.
Q: What can people expect when they work with you?
DV: I am good with people and bring strength to the stakeholder participation process – getting to know them and assessing their needs, taking a deeper dive into these roles that are outside of my own. Their needs may surprise you; they aren’t always what you think they will be.
Especially when you consider hospitals and healthcare projects, having a true understanding of all the different players and their individual needs takes significant focus. Looking out beyond just five–ten years but looking out 20 to 50 years into the future.
Then once I have a good handle on these design development needs, ensuring that these are honoured throughout the entire process.
Q: Can you describe a particularly meaningful project that you have worked on?
DV: The West Memorial Building project is quite poignant, especially since it is so closely tied to my Masters thesis, which involved looking at the Federal Courts of Canada building in Ottawa and reconciling how we see architecture and national identity. With the West Memorial Building renovation being a building of such national significance – given it’s Federal Heritage Building classification and since it will host the Supreme Court of Canada and the Federal Courts for eight years while their permanent residence is undergoing renovation – this project really resonates with me.
Q: What is the hallmark of great design?
DV: Great design just feels right. Everything feels proportionate and has a sense of rhythm or harmony that you can’t necessarily point to but that you can definitely sense. The materiality and the shape should evoke a feeling, whether that feeling is excitement or calm or grandeur.
Q: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
DV: A lot of it comes from reference – having studied extensive architectural history I have built up this mental portfolio of different styles and projects and characteristics. Oftentimes though, the best inspiration comes from localized elements – nature, topography, scenery – anything that speaks to the sense of place and where it is located.
Q: What do you like most about working at Kasian?
DV: Initially, I was especially drawn to the opportunity to work on bigger institutional projects, such as the QEII Health Sciences Centre. When I worked at smaller firms, the work was more independent. The projects didn’t have the complexity I desired, and I am thrilled to be getting that working at Kasian. Along the way, I’ve come to value the people and the strong team environment as the biggest draw to Kasian. Everyone’s ideas are heard, everyone has a voice and can provide input. This led to my involvement with the Toronto social committee helping bring the different teams in the office together and encouraging the culture of collaboration in our office.
Q: How do you spend your time outside of work?
DV: Sports have been a strong outlet for me ever since I was a kid – I grew up playing volleyball. I play tennis a few times a week – I find it’s a great way to stay active and mentally balance myself out. More recently I’ve been renovating my house, it’s exciting to work on a project of my own.
Diana Velasquez has worked on the following projects:
Scarborough Health Network Centenary Hospital
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