Life & work learning at JDJ

After three years, Karisa Vargas leaves JDJ Architects to return to work in architecture in the Dominican Republic. She’s looking forward to having family close by, the beautiful weather and the more leisurely pace of life in the Caribbean.

“It has been a friendly and fun environment,” she says of her time at JDJ Architects in project management. “Working with a small firm, you have a sense of belonging. You also aren’t doing the same work all of the time -- you have to wear different hats. That keeps things interesting.” Karisa says she learned about her ideal workflow and maintaining work/life balance while working at JDJ Architects. And although she had strong design/creative expertise, she feels that her experience is more well-rounded as a result of her position at JDJ Architects. “I gained valuable knowledge about the technical aspects of interior architecture, and I got more involved with construction documentation, which will be important for my work going forward.”

She’ll remember some of her favorite buildings in Chicago, notably Marina City, the distinctive circular towers built in the 1960s by architect Bertrand Goldberg. “I love the idea of the utopian world, and how an architect can imagine what a building will be in the future,” says Vargas. She also loves the 17th Church of Christ, Scientist in Chicago, a concrete building designed by architect Harry Weese, and also built in the 1960s. “I love how the light filters through and illuminates the atrium.” she says. “There’s something special about sacred architecture and how designers can play with natural light to create a sense of peace.” In contrast, she says, the Dominican Republic features a mix of new, modern concrete buildings and Spanish colonial, renaissance and gothic architecture, along with some wonderful examples of Cuban victorian and Caribbean gingerbread design.

Her passion for architecture began more than 10 years ago when she first volunteered with Habitat for Humanity in the Dominican Republic. After working in residential design for several years in Santo Domingo, she moved to the U.S. to further her education. Karisa holds a Master of Interior Architecture degree from the Art institute of Chicago and a Professional Degree in Architecture from the Iberoamerican University in the Dominican Republic. She worked in New York and at a large architecture firm in Chicago in design and space planning before joining JDJ Architects.

She will be consulting with JDJ Architects on a project basis. Our JDJ family wishes her well!