Monday, October 8, 2001


Emile Alano, a senior associate at Architects Hawaii


Emile Alano, a senior associate at
Architects Hawaii, is living his childhood dream

Star-bulletin staff

Emile Alano >> I can remember being 5 years old and drawing plans of houses and buildings with my older sister. I would always get the greatest kick out of drawing room plans and spaces and then imagining that I was actually experiencing them.

It's been a while since those days, but I guess you can say that now I'm living my childhood dream. I can't really think of any other profession I would enjoy as much.

I suspect most people don't really understand what architects actually do, aside from turning out "pretty pictures." Architects look at the world and the "built environment" around us in a totally different way from most other people.

Today I wear a multitude of different hats and am constantly changing them throughout the course of a business day depending on the project, the situation and the client. Architects need to be sociologists, researchers, artists, inventors, historians, technicians and other professionals -- not by choice, but because of the demands of the profession. I have to be able to see the big picture, but at the same time I can't lose sight of the little details.

Getting people to think spatially, and having them experience or describe a space that exists only in words or sketches, is probably the biggest challenge I face.

Another is educating people, who usually see only the finished product, about the process that takes place in the months and years that precede the actual completion of a project.

Satisfaction in architecture comes in various forms: designing your own home; although I am anxious to do it again, since I know where all the mistakes are. Getting young interns excited about their work and being a mentor to them. Seeing the expression on someone's face when they finally see what you are talking about, and knowing that they understand and comprehend your design.

But the greatest satisfaction comes from seeing your ideas, words and sketches take shape as actual physical structures and spaces. To see something that was once a simple line on a paper, a thought or idea transformed into reality, and to watch people actually interact with it, is probably the biggest kick of all.

"At Work" is a weekly feature of Hawaii Inc. that shows and tells what people do for a living in their own words. Send comments and submissions to

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