Next Wave: Kevin Rothschild Shea
In 2008, Kevin Rothschild-Shea founded his own firm, ArchitectureEL, out of East Longmeadow, MA. With a lifelong connection to the Cape, Rothschild-Shea continues to expand his work this side of the bridge with a deep care for the local Cape community. As a multidisciplinary firm, ArchitectureEL manages new builds, renovations, additions, commercial and historic projects. Within the past decade, Rothschild-Shea and his team have become well-versed in affordable housing and accessibility, and are passionate about fulfilling these needs on the Cape.
CCH: What was your path like pursuing architecture and starting out in your career?
KRS: I spent a year at a small college in Connecticut, then transferred to Roger Williams University into their architecture program. There’s no shortcut in terms of becoming an architect. The shortest path is a five-year bachelor program or a four-year undergraduate and a two-year master’s program. Roger Williams had the five-year bachelor’s program. Then you follow with almost three years of internships before you take your test. All in, it takes almost 10 years.
CCH: Had you always dreamed of beginning your own firm?
KRS: Everybody’s story is different. When I graduated school, we were on the edge of a recession, so jobs were few and far between. I was fortunate to get a job with a small firm near home in Western MA. I stayed there for 18 years. I started my firm in ’08 at the beginning of the next recession. Through good fortune and hard work, we survived and now there are eight of us. A lot of architects hope to be in charge of their own destiny. Taking my own path suited me. I was fortunate in that I was prepared to manage my clients, projects, and the business.
CCH: Do you have any projects on the Cape currently in the works?
KRS: We have a nice start with a master plan for a homeowner in Chatham. We are also doing a project with Cape Abilities with one of their small group homes in Yarmouth. We are making a plan to improve the quality and functionality of the home. We’re looking forward to that partnership. As we work to expand our work on the Cape, we’re mindful to expand ongoing partnerships with local organizations.
CCH: Tell me about ArchitectureEL and your values as a firm.
KRS: We are a multidisciplinary firm. We are typical to Western Mass and the Cape. We have a strong base of single family, renovations and additions. We do an extensive amount of multifamily and affordable housing. That has been a core piece of our portfolio over the last eight or 10 years. That is a natural fit in our connections with organization like Cape Abilities. In addition to commercial and retail, the other two niches are historic and accessibility. We are very interested in transitioning our strengths to Cape Cod. On the Cape, the affordable housing market is a well known challenge. All of these pieces are where we feel like we can integrate into the Cape market.
CCH: What do you think distinguishes your work/company from others?
KRS: We pride ourselves on service and hard work. First, as any good architect, we work hard to deliver a good value and represent the client’s needs. We don’t impose our architectural vision, but rather respond to their needs and budget to make it the best it can be. Then, you take that and overlay it with the affordable and accessible work. That’s really supporting people with differing needs in the community that often don’t have a voice. I’ve enjoyed doing those projects, whether it’s making something more accessible or bringing better quality housing to somebody.
CCH: What advice would you give to young professionals looking to succeed in the building and design industry?
KRS: Our industry, while very technical, is rooted in the creative side. We can all learn math, engineering, and how to run the business, but you have to appreciate history, design, light, space, texture, and all of those characteristics. Take art classes. Whether it’s painting, sculpture, or photography, learn and appreciate those intangibles. I don’t feel like you can be a great architect without spending time immersed in those artistic ventures.
Visit architectureel.com to learn more!