We had the good fortune of connecting with Gaston Denari and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Gaston, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
I think it’s always important to maintain a balance that you are comfortable with. When I started my Architecture degree, there was practically no balance. I was physically and mentally exhausted, but the work was so engaging that I didn’t mind it. As the years progressed, I realized that I couldn’t maintain that work rhythm forever. Even though I was working on projects all the time, I realized that it’s hard to be creative when you are overworked. It became really important to set times to see friends, eat well and rest. I think a good work/life balance is achieved when one takes their downtime as seriously as their time spent working.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I think a really important thing is to put yourself out there. In my case, I reached out to a lot of professors and professionals. To my surprise, I found out that people are extremely open to sharing their story and expertise, even to college students. Reaching out to those who you admire and simply asking them “how they did it” can be really helpful in determining a path for your success. The key, in my opinion, is to always keep looking for new opportunities and connections. Conferences, competitions and events are great places to get out there and start meeting people from your industry.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Houston definitely has a lot of great things to offer. First off, I think we have some of the best museums in the country, so I would first take them to check out the museum district and the Menil campus. During nice weather people will gather in the field outside the Menil and share drinks and snacks. It’s a really great atmosphere! As for coffee, I’d probably take them to Paper co., Agora, Blacksmith or Forth & Nomad. These are all really great places that serve some good coffee. However, if the goal was to get pastries, I’d take them to Common Bond. One of Houston’s best qualities is its food scene. There are some really great traditional ethnic restaurants as well as fusion cuisine. Some of my favorites are Tiger Den, Mai’s, Nancy’s Hustle, Kingwood meat market, Kim Son buffet, Ramen Tatsu-ya and Jinya. Some places to check out would be the Orange Show, the Buffalo Bayou Cistern, the Botanical Garden. One of my favorite things to grab a coffee at the Brochstein pavilion and then go to the James Turrell installation across the field. I think it’s really worth it to explore the small businesses located in the Montrose area. There are enough cool small businesses to fill a whole day of walking around! Lastly, I would go take my best friend to the River Oaks Movie Theater for a midnight showing. The atmosphere is super cool and they show some really great classics and cult movies.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
First and foremost, my family. They are absolutely the main reason why I am able to pursue my passion and make plans for the future. My parents sacrificed everything to be able to move to the States and give my siblings and me an opportunity for a better life. They’ve supported us every step of the way, no matter what. The University of Houston College of Architecture has amazing professors and staff. I’ve received a lot of great mentoring from Sharon Chapman, Robert Burrow, Ronnie Self, Jesse Hager and Donna Kacmar. They’re all great professionals and people, and I am extremely thankful for being able to learn from them.
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Walled City project was a collaborative effort with Sharon Philip