We had the good fortune of connecting with Michael Wacht and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Michael, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
Being creative in Architecture bridges two seemingly opposite concepts I find fascinating: sorting through speculative thinking of infinite possibilities and applying the practical constraints of our programmed world. I am lucky to live in a dream world, imagining physical realms that are yet to be realized. By visualizing a future environment for my clients and all potential users, I’m able to offer calculated insight into how we can achieve more comfortable, joyful, and productive spaces.
What should our readers know about your business?
I have proudly been able to embrace that owning a business is a gradual process. For me, what began as selling the service of designing buildings has comfortably progressed to become an integrated design service of creating community. I’ve been very lucky to have worked with several non-profit clients, and by spending more time in stakeholder evaluations and studying user-oriented experiences, I’ve discovered that my creative impact may be greatest when understood as overlays of culture and identity as part of the eventual Architecture.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Well, I’d give them some multiple choice, but here’s a potential top list! I love a hike at Temescal Canyon. If you go up through the canyon, the beginning is rustic, historic, and has the seasonal waterfall. As you rise up the peak to the west, there is a glamorous coastal view revealed, from the Malibu Coast all the way down to Palos Verdes, and a view inland towards Century City and DTLA. This hike pairs well with either a trip to Ginger Rogers Beach (the LGBTQ section of Will Rogers) or a stroll in Pacific Palisades village. One of my favorite daytime activities is what I call “Venice Four Ways.” Meandering between Venice’s variously eccentric environments can gloriously occupy a whole leisurely day: the beach, the boardwalk, Abbot Kinney, and the Canals. A day strolling through the vibrant Arts District is also great for my creative friend visitors. Endless conversation can result from jumping between the galleries, coffee shops, minimalist storefronts, impressive restaurants, and experiencing the contrast of old and new LA Architecture. And, of course, everyone seems to love a visit to the Getty Center and Griffith Observatory!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I feel I owe my success to three mentors I’ve been lucky to have over the past 15 years. The caveat is that I’ve lost touch with all three, but perhaps that is the job of a great mentor, to instill wisdom and courage within a recruit, and set them free? My first experience with delegation was when I was 25, and my Managing Director at SBJ Group in Manhattan, Herb Weber, basically said, “Here, why don’t you run construction administration on this $120 million hi-rise building.” In graduate school at UPenn, my studio professor Martin Haas (then of Behnisch Architekten in Stuttgart, Germany) taught me how to carefully diagram my ideas. . . literally, how to translate imagination into simple geometric forms. My most creative job was for former USC Dean of Architecture Qingyun Ma, who instilled in me a sense of purpose to design, how to design for culture (in this case, mainland China), and the exponential effectiveness of managing design teams.
Images by IntuArch and Michael Wacht