Architecting the Future of Affordable Housing. Meet Small Business Owner Tyler Patin
Tyler Patin had a long career in real estate before he decided to launch his own design and development company, studioPATINA. His focus now is on building affordable homes and nurturing communities in New York and New Orleans.
When we met Tyler and heard the story of how he started his business, we knew we needed to share it out.
A:studioPATINAwas an idea to merge my interests in architecture and interior design with real estate development.
Having worked on numerous mixed use and multi-family development projects over the years, I felt as though there was a disconnect between the design intent that initially drove these projects and the development teams in charge of making them viable. I wanted to offer a fully integrated design service to allow for quality control in addition to cost in all aspects of project delivery, from start to finish.
Q: What are the biggest challenges you face with having a small business in the real estate development world?
A:Diving into the world of development can be a scary undertaking. Raising the capital needed to make real estate development projects become a reality is difficult. You have to understand the financial and social aspects that come into play when taking on such projects, as it affects much more than just those who are closely involved.
What brought us into the world of development – especially in our home markets of New York and New Orleans – was how we as designers could make a positive impact in cities that lack adequate and (most importantly) affordable housing. I believe it's our ethical obligation as a firm of design professionals and developers to tackle these long overlooked issues.
Q: Can you tell us a bit more about your approach to affordable housing and why that's so important to you?
A:There's been much discussion about the lack of truly affordable housing options in both New Orleans and New York City. By founding studioPATINA, I wanted to approach a problem in both markets that many developers continue to avoid.
Many people have negative preconceived notions about what is built and the impact on the community it serves; I feel that as designers we can bring to the market financially viable options that are well designed and have a positive effect on the community by creating a sense of place instead of simply addressing the need for shelter. Adequate and affordable housing is the main objective of our mission, but we want to bring that idea a step further and help to establish a sense of community in our developments.
Design for one of Tyler's residential projects
Q: How do you engage new clients?
A:Being assertive, empathetic and enthusiastic when working with a client is of the utmost importance for us. Every client is different and there is no one way to approach a project that comes our way. Showing a true interest in the vision of the client and listening to their ultimate goal leaves little room for the unknown when designing a project.
The client is the driving force and we're guided by their input. To ensure that we establish a custom design program to fit the needs of the client, there is a lot of investigation and research that goes into an initial idea. We are always asking ourselves questions throughout the process.How the building will be used? Who are the people using the building? How will that building impact the community?
Q: What sets you apart in the market?
A:The way we set ourselves apart is the fact that we have brought together design and development into the same firm. Traditionally, the role of the architect and of the developer were two separate entities and neither really meddled in each other's worlds. Through my experience as a designer working with developers, there were so many things being overlooked by the developers in terms of project quality, coordination and delivery.
Another problem I constantly faced was how design intent was lost over time due to value engineering, which brought down the overall quality of a project. By integrating these services in-house, we can offer better financial control from the beginning, which in turn allows us to control the design of the project fully.
Q: What do you wish you'd known before you started out?
A:I wish I fully understood from the beginning what was needed on the administrative end when opening a design and development firm. There are so many things needed in terms of legal and financial advice to successfully launch.
I've learned through trial and error that it's essential to assemble a team that has a broad range of strengths in these areas – invite the best at what they do to contribute. Attempting to do everything by yourself is impossible and will get you and your business nowhere fast.
Q: What would you like to learn from a network of other self-employed professionals and small business owners?
A:I'd like to learn more about how other design professionals are working to establish new clientele. How do you build a brandthat people can identify with? How do other companies build a culture that attracts the best and the brightest for the long haul?