In the Spotlight - Bob Zuber
This month, we’re delighted to introduce Bob Zuber to our loyal readers. Beloved by all of us at Morgante Wilson, Bob discusses his alma mater, his architectural influences and why you should listen to “Gimme Shelter” by The Rolling Stones.
Let’s start with your alma mater, since we hear how fond of it you are.
I went to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and received both my degrees there – a Bachelor of Science of Architectural Studies, and my Masters of Architecture. I LOVED attending that school and am very proud of it!
Speaking of school, you have an interesting connection to the fact that Fred and Elissa’s youngest daughter is graduating high school this month.
Yes I do! I started at MWA right after Issy was born. Now she’s heading off to college. I can actually chart my progress at MWA by her milestones.
You’ve been with the firm eighteen years then. Why so long?
The people, the people, the people! My co-workers are wonderful. I’ve learned so much from all of them, life lessons included, and have become very good friends with many of them.
What’s your favorite MWA project, and why?
The “Next One.” Our work keeps evolving and our process of design and project delivery is constantly being refined. Each project gets better and better than the last one. Don’t get me wrong – they’re all good, but every project is a different journey, which keeps work interesting and fun.
In your opinion, what makes a house a home?
Just one thing, really. Love. That can mean different things to different people, but it should mean that every client ends up with a home they love. Homes are where people live their lives, raise their families, grow old, fall in love, watch their baby’s first steps – the theater of life is acted within the spaces we design. This is serious business, and the reason I believe ours is one of the noblest professions.
What inspires you as an architect?
I draw inspiration from many sources. Other architects I admire, certainly, along with obvious sources, like books, movies, music, art, and history. And perhaps not so obvious sources, as well. I get inspired when ordinary people from any profession reach outside their comfort zone and achieve something truly remarkable. That inspires me to do the absolute best I can do with my humble talents.
Can you give us an example?
Toward the end of The Rolling Stones song “Gimme Shelter,” the back-up singer, Merry Clayton, sings a solo with building energy. She clearly puts every ounce of her soul into the song until the last stanza, when she gives so completely of herself, her voice cracks under the strain. If you listen very, very carefully, you can hear a clearly impressed Mick Jagger shout “Whoo!” in response to Merry’s incredible vocal performance. It gives me goose bumps whenever I hear it. I feel like we should all strive to achieve our own “Whoo!” moments every day.
What else might we be surprised to learn about you?
I’m from a town in Central Illinois that’s so small, my school housed thirty students in four rooms. I was the only eighth grader. I had more brothers than classmates. There was nothing obvious from my childhood that would ever hint at what I do for a living. I don’t even remember when I first learned what an architect was. We didn’t have that sort of occupation in Central Illinois, yet I always knew I wanted to be one.
That is surprising! Anything else?
Only that we can solve any design problem that’s out there. Go ahead and try to stump us – we love a good challenge!