Bergmeyer Spotlight is an online series of interviews featuring Bergmeyer’s professionals. This month’s spotlight is on Rachel Lanzafame, an Associate at the firm who has been with the firm since 2007. Here is what she had to say during her Spotlight interview:

What led you to study architecture?

My dad is an architect, and I loved when he would bring home magazines for me to look at and extra samples from the library for me play with. I still remember obsessing over a magazine article about a restaurant in San Francisco and wishing that I could design something like that. I realized that just wishing wasn’t going to make it happen, so when I was 14 I got my first job at the firm my dad worked at. I spent that summer organizing the library and helping around the office. I never even explored other career options because it just felt right.

What is your favorite project that you have worked on at Bergmeyer?

Hampshire Dining Commons at UMass Amherst. It was one of the first big projects I worked on at Bergmeyer as a job captain. When we first started, it wasn’t a place where you would want to eat. It was dated, a little dank, and the food was hidden away behind brick walls. We were able to open it up to maximize the natural light and showcase the incredibly fresh food. We learned that in a recent student survey, UMA students who eat at Hampshire are reportedly healthier and perform better academically than students who eat elsewhere on campus!

Where do you go/ what do you do to find inspiration? What inspires you?

Small details inspire me. It’s the little things that can mean the difference between an average experience and an extraordinary one. Our favorite Thai restaurant is a little hole in the wall down the street from our house… they started putting these beautiful spirals of beets and carrots on all their takeout. It’s so simple but it’s funny how much of a difference it makes. Things like that remind me that people are eating, cooking, and living their lives everyday in the spaces we design. The details make a difference.

What is the best piece of advice you were ever given?

I’m going to go way back for this one. When I was about 11, my mom used to tell me to “broaden my horizons.” I used to find it kind of annoying, to be honest, and I didn’t really understand what she meant. As I grew up, I realized that she was telling me to get out of my comfort zone, try new things… to travel, listen, and observe. I wasn’t particularly adventurous as a kid, but by embracing that mantra I became much more open to the world around me.

What is the most unusual food you have ever eaten?

It wasn’t necessarily an unusual food, but an experience. While I was studying abroad in college, I went to Greece and Turkey with two of my friends for spring break. The ferry schedules are kind of nonexistent there, so we got “stuck” on an island in Greece (horrible, I know). This was before smartphones, so we wandered around to find a place for dinner. When we walked in, we were the only customers. They didn’t have a menu so the chef sat down at our table and interviewed us about what we like to eat. After our conversation he went back into the kitchen and just started sending out plate after plate. It was tapas style (called meze in Greece). I honestly have no idea what most of it was, but it was all so delicious. It was the type of experience that you couldn’t plan if you tried.

Check out past Bergmeyer Spotlight here!

Published Dec 01, 2015