Adam Naar is a lab planner with HERA laboratory planners in Philadelphia, PA. Lab Manager recently spoke with Adam about his career, experience, and personal interests.
Q: How did you get started in your career? Did you major in your field in college, get an internship, switch careers mid-stream, etc.?
A: My professional career actually started while I was in my second year of college. I attended Drexel University’s rigorous “2+4” Architecture program in Philadelphia, PA. It consisted of two years of traditional, full-time coursework, followed by four years of full-time work experience and part-time evening classes, year-round. My first job was actually working on complex mission critical buildings and academic laboratories, two building typologies that I never thought I would revisit in my career as a young, design-driven architect! I wound up wearing several hats throughout those four years of working, ranging from large healthcare and higher education projects, to designing and detailing smaller luxury residences and affordable housing. I even helped design and build a tiny house for Greensgrow Farms in Philadelphia. After reflecting on all of these varied experiences, both work and school-related, I realized that I not only enjoyed designing, but that the technical aspect of architecture and engineering was fascinating to me. My passion for creating design solutions to problems with extreme constraints led me back to my current role designing laboratories of all types.
Q: If you weren’t in this profession, what job do you think you’d be doing instead?
A: The one and only job other than architecture I could see myself doing is being a professional cellist in an orchestra. I have a passion for music and started playing the cello when I was 10 years old, and continued throughout middle and high school. I even debated studying music performance in college instead of architecture! I still play the cello today, both as a hobby and for wedding ceremonies and formal events, as a solo musician and in string quartets.
Q: What is your favorite building, lab-related or not?
A: Oddly enough, my favorite building is a private residence: Chicken Point Cabin by Olson Kundig Architects. The raw materiality, simple forms, and ideas of taking refuge inside a place to call home, while offering the prospect of opening up to the landscape, are executed perfectly. The house looks like it was always there, which is something architects always strive to achieve in a design.
Q: If you won a million dollar lottery tomorrow, what would you do with your winnings?
A: I have a passion for climate advocacy and would donate a large portion of my winnings to organizations dedicated to fighting global warming, while also opening my own design firm focused on creating passive and sustainable buildings. My undergraduate thesis in college focused on repurposing trash and construction debris discarded in landfills as new building materials, essentially creating a closed-loop system within a community. I believe architects have a vital role in combating climate change, and I would put my winnings towards helping promote sustainable and passive design strategies.
Q: What kinds of hobbies or interests do you have outside of work?
A: Making and listening to music is one of my passions, and I love playing cello and going to live classical, jazz, and funk shows around Philly. I am also an avid cyclist and enjoy biking throughout Philadelphia. I also have a travel bug, and I try to go abroad at least once a year to visit a new country.