W8 ALUMNI : WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
If you’ve been following our history posts and scrap book, you’ll know that we’ve been virtually going back in time to celebrate 20 years of business—from the multi-discipline design studio we are today back to the small “mom-and-pop” architecture studio called VaST, the original firm created by Joseph and Brandy in 2000 which was rebranded to WORKSHOP8 in 2010. If you are curious about that story, check out “A CINDERELLA-ISH STORY” published October 18th, 2014.
Due to the Covid19 pandemic, we were not able to host the celebration we had planned for January 8th, 2021, so instead, we thought it’d be fun to check in with some VaST / WORKSHOP8 alumni to see what they’re up to today, and ask them about lessons learned during their time with Joseph and Brandy.
2010 / 2011
LESSONS LEARNED Brandy is a marketing genius — I’m still trying to apply some of that to my practice. Joseph was a great mentor — he instilled a passion for sustainable architecture in me. Joseph and Brandy were both influential figures in my career, and I owe a lot to them for helping shape my path.
ALICIA OLUSHOLA AJAYI
2008 / 2010
WHAT ARE YOU UP TO THESE DAYS I research and write about the intersection of people, power, and Black spaces and do a bit of consulting around affordable housing projects in NYC. I am the project manager at BlackSpace Urbanist Collective. BlackSpace is a group of Black architects, designers, planners, and artists dedicated to preserving Black culture and the spaces they inhabit!
MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE I worked for VaST when the architecture world was hit dramatically by the recession in the late 2000s. The firm work pivoted to more competition-type projects, and we started to respond to a lot of Requests for Proposals. We even answered a call for a memorial competition, which sparked my fascination with memorials now that I think about it!
LESSONS LEARNED The importance of mentorship, and the incredible amount of creative and entrepreneurial spirit/leadership that Brandy showed was intoxicating at times!
ADDITIONAL REMARKS Happy Happy Happy Anniversary, Brandy and Joseph! I hope you and the firm you have continued to build over the years are soaring new exciting heights!
2013 / 2014
WHAT ARE YOU UP TO THESE DAYS I am the Lead Architect for Colorado with Gorman & Company, LLC, a national affordable housing developer.
MEMORABLE PROJECT Mariposa Phase VI
LESSONS LEARNED Too many to list!
ADDITIONAL REMARKS Thank you Brandy and Joseph for all that you do. Your passion and vision are paramount to our architectural community.
2011 / 2013
WHAT ARE YOU UP TO THESE DAYS Senior Zoning Inspector for the City of Fort Collins
MEMORABLE PROJECT DHA S Lowell Apts
LESSONS LEARNED You may agree or disagree passionately, but everyones’ voice was respected and heard. If you had something to say, you can and should speak up.
ADDITIONAL REMARKS I’m thrilled to have been a part of WORKSHOP8 and while I left W8, W8 has not left me.
2017 / 2018
WHAT ARE YOU UP TO THESE DAYS I am an Architectural Designer for Trio Design, and started my own interior design business working with homeowners here in Denver creating and renovating their ideal projects!
MOST MEMORABLE PROJECT Most memorable project, besides the Gateway projects, would be The Olin Apartments. Also Joseph, Marcel, Alex, and Ivan dragging my cycling butt up Flagstaff road every week or so in the summer time.
LESSONS LEARNED Minute attention to detail.
ADDITIONAL REMARKS I wouldn’t be where I am today without Brandy and Joseph deciding to bring me on to their awesome unique team!
2009 / 2010
WHAT ARE YOU UP TO THESE DAYS In June 2020 I graduated from the University of Washington with joint master’s degrees in urban planning and public health; I am now the Recovery Coordinator at the Washington Military Department: Emergency Management Division.
MOST MEMORABLE PROJECT As one of the original 8 at WORKSHOP8, I only worked on the Paisano Green Community project. I have many fond memories of long nights in the warehouse with no heat trying to put a legit business together.
LESSONS LEARNED My passion for social equity and working with and for underrepresented populations grew out of the Paisano project.
ADDITIONAL REMARKS Congrats on 20 years!
2017 / 2018
WHAT ARE YOU UP TO THESE DAYS Designing healthcare architecture.
MOST MEMORABLE PROJECT I’ll never forget the first community meeting that I attended with Joseph and Brandy on the Gateway Projects, to collect the residents opinions and understanding how important it was to provide a quality design for everyday living.
LESSONS LEARNED I learned to grow my confidence in describing and graphically representing a design with desk critiques that I look forward to in my job today.
ADDITIONAL REMARKS You two are a power couple that I admire because of your determination, trust, and passion. Wish you many more years as WORKSHOP8!
2007 / 2009
WHAT ARE YOU UP TO THESE DAYS I moonlight as a furniture designer for a local woodworking company (Baldwin Hardwoods). Most of the time I am a stay-at-home dad of 3.
MOST MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE My most memorable experience was helping Joseph and Brandy renovate and move into their current location.
LESSONS LEARNED The principles of sustainable and energy efficient design.
ADDITIONAL REMARKS I can’t wait to see what Brandy & Joseph do next!
2005 / 2006
WHAT ARE YOU UP TO THESE DAYS I work for Scott Edwards Architecture in Portland, OR.
MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE I remember how exciting it was for my young self to help out anyway I could to complete any of the residential projects. Oh, and working along Joseph while we listened to music, Prince being played most consistently, wow such a great memory!
LESSONS LEARNED The design aesthetic that Joseph and Brandy apply to each of their projects is something that I’ve looked up to and of course their consideration for sustainability has always been something I admire.
ADDITIONAL REMARKS Thank you both so much for giving little young Eddie a chance to get some practical experience, not a day goes by that I don’t think about my time at VaST.
left to right : Ali Gidfar, Ulla Lange, Joseph Vigil, Brandy LeMae, JV DeSousa
In 2010, during the Great Recession, we rebranded VaST into WORKSHOP8. We were in a design competition for the Paisano Green Community project and we needed a name to submit. The five that you see in the photograph above were the original, founding members of W8.
JV continues to work as an architect, focusing on community supportive projects in small rural communities across Colorado and New Mexico. He has watched his two kids grow into successful adults, and harbors dreams of owning a ranch and raising bison…one day…
Ulla Lange, living in Finland, keeps busy with various architecture and design projects. Having earned her WELL AP, she is more interested than ever in the way buildings can support one’s well being and health. In her freetime you will find her foraging, cold water swimming and tackling the renovation of a 1940’s house in Lahti, her childhod city named as the European Green Capital 2021!
Thanks for reading!
This, sadly, will be my last blog post, as I too will become a WORKSHOP8 Alumni. In September 2020, I moved back home to Virginia to study for my real estate license. In January I passed the exam, and come March I will be starting my new career as a real estate agent in Richmond, VA.
2018 / 2021
MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE As it’s been nearly a year since we went remote due to the pandemic, all of my most memorable experiences are from when we were all having fun together in the studio – company ski trips, halloween luncheons, happy hours on the porch, walks for Chai-Day Friday, and the list goes on and on.
LESSONS LEARNED Before joining W8, I didn’t know anything about the AEC industry – only what I watched on HGTV, which I have learned overly simplifies what these designers really go through. I am so appreciative to have gotten an inside look at what it REALLY takes to design a project start to finish, and I have the utmost respect for designers.
ADDITIONAL REMARKS It was a very challenging decision to make the most back East, and I will miss my W8’ers the most. I look forward to being your cheerleader from afar, and watching your continued growth!
Maris DuBois | Studio Manager
08 FEBRUARY 2021