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Beyond The Drawing Board

Apr 26, 2021

DPR presents Beyond the Drawing Board — Season 2. In this series of podcasts designed for our Design Management Academy, we bring to you conversations with industry thought leaders to take a peek behind the curtain at the design process.


Our guest for this episode is the Founding Principal of Mark Cavagnero Associates (MCA). He is one of the best of the best in the Bay Area in terms of architecture and design, having completed Digital Environmental Studies at Harvard University and his Masters in Architecture at UC Berkeley. He began his career in NYC for 5 years and eventually started his firm at the age of 30. Mark has worked extensively with historic buildings and cultural buildings like museums, theatres, and art schools. Today, his firm is involved in projects all around the world.


Mark shares his career journey in the industry — how he started and how he has developed through the years, to the point of starting his own highly successful firm. In his years in the industry, Mark has worked on a variety of projects and he shares some of his biggest wins, challenges and disappointments. He also explains how COVID-19 has impacted his firm, his predictions for the future of the industry, and how design and construction teams can better work together going forward.


This episode is brought to you by DPR Construction, with our host, Greg Mantz.


Key Takeaways:

[1:01] Greg introduces his guest for this episode — Mark Cavagnero.

[2:48] What drove Mark to design and architecture? Where did his journey in this industry begin and how did it progress?

[8:32] What motivated Mark to focus on design?

[10:46] Mark describes how he trained his skills in drawing.

[13:02] How did Mark develop his interest in working with different materials?

[16:10] Mark speaks more about his Sava Pool project.

[18:53] What are some of Mark's other projects?

[20:18] What is Mark's favorite project?

[22:29] What is the biggest challenge that Mark has had to overcome in his career?

[24:48] What is the biggest disappointment in Mark's career?

[26:31] How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected Mark's work and business?

[30:50] What does Mark want his firm to be recognized for in the industry?

[32:07] What does the future of Mark's firm look like?

[34:42] How is the design-build environment affecting Mark and his firm?

[36:46] What would Mark change in the design-build process relative to how contractors are working with architects?

[39:22] What is something that DPR can learn from other competitors' firms Mark has worked with?

[43:33] What does the future look like in terms of prefabrication?

[47:03] Greg and Mark discuss how DPR and MCA can work together going forward.

[49:16] Where does Mark believe the industry is headed in the future?

[51:24] How can the construction industry work more effectively with the design side?

[55:26] Mark shares some final thoughts about his experience working with DPR.


DPR Construction

Design Management Academy

Design Management Academy Yammer Page

Mark Cavagnero, Mark Cavagnero Associates

Mark Cavagnero Associates (MCA) Projects

Lighthouse for the Blind

UCSF Block 23A Neurosciences Research Building