Firm name: OJT (Office of Jonathan Tate)
Location: New Orleans
Year founded: 2011
Firm leadership: Jonathan Tate
Education: B.Arch., Auburn University Rural Studio; M.Des., Harvard Graduate School of Design
Experience: Mockbee/Coker then Buildingstudio
Firm size: Six to eight
Revel in complexity to make something concise and artful.
We had a peculiar start with a multifamily housing project in the Central City neighborhood of New Orleans. Due to a series of extenuating circumstances, the project was built halfway, and then torn down. Twice. There is a parking lot on the site now.
As with children, you love them all, but differently. That said, the projects that stick around our consciousnesses are those that successfully embrace a myriad of concerns and resulted in clear, assertive solutions. We’ve tended to hit the mark with our housing in New Orleans. Something about the neighborhood context there enables and highlights newness while connecting to a historic lineage.
Second favorite project:
All the other ones. We feel privileged to be able to say that, actually. Over our short history, we've not had many if any projects we would not want to showcase.
Origin of firm name:
It’s a bit ironic that the office is titled after someone who has a proclivity to self-deprecate. Short-term decisions often lead to long-term uncomfortableness. To rectify this, we currently have an internal competition to cleverly reassign the letters of the acronym.
Special item in your studio space:
Our family of ferns—nothing like plants to make a space feel like home.
Design tool of choice:
3D printer. There is nothing more gratifying than having a computer model come to life as a colorful plastic piece.
Brushed chrome Schluter trim.
Memorable learning experience:
Taking on the role of developer and architect for our Starter Home projects has taught us to make our own opportunities. When nobody came asking for us to do what we were talking about, we had to move out of the realm of abstract and into something real in order to prove it. Some of our more fruitful projects have been realized through alternative and uncommon development and funding processes that we have initiated.
The worst criticism you’ve ever received:
N/A—all criticism is productive
Favorite place to get inspired:
Taking phone calls in the Piazza d’Italia here in New Orleans has proven to be pretty inspirational.
The best advice you have ever gotten:
There is always time for lunch.
Biggest challenge in running a successful practice:
Generating a fresh playlist that accurately anticipates and responds to the office mood and speed every day.
The only way to see a project completed to our full intent is to be unhealthily involved before, during, and well after construction.
Skills to master:
Instagram. Too much pressure to post the right image while not feeling like a blatant self-promoter.
Morning person or night owl?
We all get to the office pretty early. Can’t speak for what happens after work.
Social media platform of choice:
French Truck Coffee and chocolate-covered espresso beans. Basically, caffeine in liquid and solid forms.