Written by The Business Journal Staff
Paul Halajian, President/Principal Architect
Paul Halajian Architects
What we do:
We believe that each client, project, and site is unique and our design solutions celebrate these distinctions. We value the differences from project to project, taking each as an opportunity to work through every intricate detail until our solution is a balance of both design and technical superiority. Design, constructability, sustainability, and client service are valued equally, and as such we address each with the diligence it takes to make every component as successful as the whole. Using this strategy, every project we execute is an occasion to impact the greater architectural landscape in a way that makes our work a tailored fit to the project parameters.
Bachelor of Arts in environmental design with a major in architecture,
University of California, Berkeley – 1984
Master of Architecture, University of California, Berkeley – 1988
Married to Carolyn Shishmanian Halajian, 3 boys – Peter 19, Mark 16, John 16
What was the best advice you ever received and who did it come from?
I owe so much to my father. He not only told me with words but demonstrated through actions to work hard, treat people with respect, honor your commitments, put God first and family second. My father has had a deep and positive impact on me personally and professionally.
Who or what has been the biggest influence on your career, Paul?
After graduate school, I had the privilege of working in an internationally acclaimed firm in San Francisco called EHDD Architecture where I worked under Charles Davis, one of the founding partners of the firm. We hit it off immediately and he mentored me by letting me take on more than he knew I could handle while being available at a moment’s notice when I was in over my head. He selected me to assume the role of Project Architect for a massive and extremely complicated addition to the main library complex on the UC Berkeley campus — then the third largest library complex in the country. Doing a landmark project at my alma mater was a real thrill.
What are your roots in the Central Valley, Paul?
I grew up in Fresno, graduated from McLane High, and then left the area for architecture school at Cal. After college, I practiced in the Bay Area for a number of years. My wife and I decided to move home to Fresno to be closer to family after the birth of our first child.
What was your very first job and what did you learn from it, Paul?
I had a Fresno Bee paper route. The important early lesson from my paper route was that when someone pays you to do something, they get to decide how well I have performed — not me. That experience taught me that there is no substitute for doing your job well — if the paper was not on the porch, then that was unacceptable. I’m still trying to get the paper on the porch!
What do you like to do in your spare time, Paul?
I have taken up cycling and enjoy riding many of the beautiful trails easily accessible around Fresno. Our twin boys play football and wrestle at Clovis North High School and one of my absolute favorite things to do is watch them compete. I serve as elder in our church (Trinity Community Church), and participate in a weekly men’s Bible Study there.
Why did you choose to pursue a career as an architect, Paul?
I credit my father for introducing me to architecture. He was the international sales rep for a company in Fresno that made high-end wool carpet (Berven of California). When I was in the 6th grade, he wanted to re-carpet our house so rather than measure the house himself, he taught me to use an architect’s scale. It took me a week to measure the house with a tape measure and use my new scale to draw a floor plan of our house. I was fascinated with what I had just done. For the first time I understood what was on the other side of my closet.
What was the most unusual project you have been involved in, Paul?
We were recently asked by a group called the Armenian Genocide Centennial – Fresno Committee to design a monument to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. I serve as the campus consulting architect at Fresno State and the university has allowed the monument to be built in a very prominent site on the campus. Because I am of Armenian decent and I have a heart for Fresno State this is a very meaningful project for me both personally and professionally. Being asked to create a design that will speak to future generations of the devastation of the Armenian people that occurred 100 years ago is a once in a lifetime opportunity. My hope is that the Genocide Monument will educate people about the Armenian Genocide, inspire people to take action and speak out against ongoing global genocide, and ultimate serve as a lasting reminder to forgive but never forget what happened. I am humbled to be part of this truly once on a lifetime effort.
You’ve received a number of awards and honors. Which one/ones are you most proud of, Paul?
What’s tough in our area is that there are a number of talented architects here so when we do happen to get an award it really means something. I guess I am most proud of the award we received for the Science 2 Building at Fresno State. That was our first big building on campus. We were able to deliver more than the university asked for while maintaining the budget. That project established a firm-wide attitude we have about exceeding our client’s expectations.
What advice would you give a young person today who is considering a career in the architectural field, Paul?
Architecture is not about style, ego, or simply a job. TV and movie stereotypes about architects are pretty much wrong. There’s more stress then most people think and if you don’t love design and don’t have patience, don’t do it. If you care about how things look, want to change the world, love to build things that will last and have patience, then throw yourself into architecture.