Eddie Abeyta is never far from a sketchbook. On airplanes he doodles abstract towers. As a kid growing up in El Paso, Tex., he drew tricked-out race cars. In a high school drafting class, Abeyta (then still thinking he'd make a career designing Ferraris) discovered architecture: “I latched onto the fact that architecture revolved around space,” he recalls.
Since then, Abeyta's path has been straightforward. While attending Texas A&M, he began interning at HKS—where his uncle, Nunzio De Santis, is an executive principal—and then joined the firm on graduation. Fourteen years later, he heads a team of six to eight designers at HKS. Add in the project managers, production staff, and consultants who report to him, and the number swells to almost 30.
Even with a stream of high-profile projects to design—like the W Dallas Victory Hotel and Residences and the Aladdin Music Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas—Abeyta is restless. He believes that HKS, with strong project managers and code experts and a full-blown model shop, has the resources to handle bigger, more interesting jobs. It just needs stronger designs.
Abeyta is trying to recruit young talent to a corporate firm, which isn't always easy. “I am trying to push the envelope and expand ideas,” he explains. “When I go places, I keep asking myself, ‘What can I do to make this better?' ”