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Pictured: Sam Pham, Summer 2019 Northeastern Co-op; Chris Giblin, Senior Associate; Vivian Nguyen, Architectural Designer; Robert Levash, AIA, Principal; Leah Brave Solomon, Architectural Designer. Photo by Alastair Battson.

Northeastern University alumnus Robert Levash, AIA, is Principal at Wilson Butler Architects, where he brings innovative design ideas into reality, works directly with clients, manages design projects, serves as a leader and mentor to junior staff, and so much more. Wilson Butler Architects (WBA) has strong Northeastern ties, consistently hiring Architecture co-op students as well as Northeastern alumni after graduation. Master of Architecture student Sam Pham was on co-op at WBA over the summer, while several alumni also work there full-time: Chris Giblin, Senior Associate; Ali Horowitz, Associate; Vivian Nguyen, Architectural Designer; and Leah Brave Solomon, Architectural Designer. We had the opportunity to catch up with Levash about his role as Principal at WBA, what makes the firm unique, and why Northeastern students stand out.

Tell us about your role as Principal at Wilson Butler Architects. What are your responsibilities as part of the senior leadership team?

Since I became a principal two years ago, I’ve taken on a more global role at the firm. In addition to the individual projects I manage, I oversee staff recruitment, business development, and financials. I’m particularly passionate about finding new talent—our employees are the lifeblood of the company. When time permits, I also support our marketing efforts including the launch of our website redesign. One of the most exciting initiatives I have worked on in 2019 has been the opening of our Miami office.

Robert Levash, AIA. Photo by Alastair Battson.

What do you love about Wilson Butler What makes it unique?

I’ve been at Wilson Butler for 13 years this fall. What I love most about working here is the culture. Our open studio encourages collaboration at all levels of experience, and the workforce is multicultural—we have people from Egypt, Colombia, Vietnam, Belarus, all united by their passion for design.

When I was a student at Northeastern, I never imagined I would be designing performing arts centers. They are some of the most complex structures to work on. We have to consider additional aspects in our design process: the acoustics, social comfort, and wayfinding, all without compromising the overall experience of both the performers and the audience. We work with large-scale physical models that are presented to all our clients. Our model shop is definitely one of our biggest assets and what makes us so unique in Boston. We of course also use renderings but models are the best way of presenting, identifying, and solving issues because it allows us to explore problems collectively with the client.

What do you love about Northeastern co-ops? What sets them apart?

Northeastern co-ops aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves and tackle problems. We have welcomed many talented, driven, and grounded designers from Northeastern.
In fact, five current staff members got hired after being co-ops.

I also value that Northeastern co-ops get paid for their design work. It is vitally important to make them worthy of their time and talent from the get go.

You are a double husky yourself. Any highlights from your time at Northeastern?

My education at Northeastern provided me a solid foundation in Architecture. Building on this, my co-op experiences were invaluable for paving where I am today. I am very grateful that I was prepared after graduation to readily find employment. Northeastern had helped me with creating a great resume, portfolio, and interviewing skills, which I still value today. It also taught me that architecture is multi-faceted and having business acumen is equally as important as being creative and having technical ability. Our industry is an amazingly creative field that calls for other additional and transferable skills.

I also rowed on the Northeastern University Crew team. Rowing provided me an opportunity to work effectively on a team and build the leadership skills I have today.

Generally, what do you love about the field of architecture / design?

I love architecture because we have the opportunity to engage the human mind with our creativity and problem-solving. I love to be challenged and this profession provides an endless opportunity to unravel many puzzles. As a firm leader, I enjoy teaching and collaborating with so many talented individuals.