Employee spotlight: Carl Bolofer
When he was a kid, Carl Bolofer was very curious about drawing and buildings. Both sides of his family are gifted artistically and musically, and when he was 3 years old, he remembers being amazed by a drawing done by his older cousin of a city church.
“I remember drawing a straight line — or I thought it was straight — shortly after that, and I was hooked with drawing anything,” he said.
After spending a few years working as a nurse on the east coast of the U.S., Carl’s mom moved him and his older sister from the Philippines to Detroit when he was 4 years old. He grew up on the west side of the city, and when he first arrived, he remembers looking up at the tall buildings downtown and being enamored.
“As I got older, my curiosity of architecture and cities grew, especially when it came to Detroit and its uniqueness and challenges,” Carl said. “As I learned more about the history of the city through research and through my professors and classmates in architecture school at the University of Detroit Mercy, it made me have a different view on architecture. This new view changed from just creating things to asking what thoughtful things can be created that would provide some positive impact to the city.”
In May of 2007, he joined the HAA team ready to learn and jump at any opportunity he could. He remembers feeling happy to be done with school and getting to join a firm he’d always admired, but he knows he was naive about architecture in general.
“I know I had a lot to learn and would take every opportunity to learn from my experienced peers,” he said. ”Throughout my career at HAA, I’ve been lucky to have great people to work with who’ve given me opportunities to gain experience in many different types of projects. Today, I try to learn from my experiences — mistakes and all — and try to use them to continue to grow.”
As someone who grew up in Detroit, the city is a big part of Carl’s identity, and his experiences here have shaped many of his thoughts and ideas about life, design and beyond. He’s also surprised by how much the city has changed over the years, and although he sometimes misses the days when things were more quiet, he’s amazed by what’s happening in Detroit.
“When I started working downtown, there was only a handful of places to go eat and visit,” he said. “There was always something to do then just like now, but you had to find it, where today, things are happening out in the open. To be a small part of it being in the design field is a bonus.”
Carl’s not only celebrating his 11-year anniversary at HAA this month, he’s also celebrating a recent promotion. Earlier this year, he was named Creative Lead. In this role, Carl works with HAA Director of Design, Mark Farlow, and others to strengthen HAA’s design goals, vision, brand, culture, and core design values.
For Carl, his creativity is strongest at night time. Music, specifically hip-hop, also gets his creative juices and focus flowing, and his untidy desk helps him concentrate more. In his every day life, his sources of inspiration come from the people around him, like his family and son, friends and coworkers.
“Those people challenge me in a good way. Feeling challenged everyday is motivation in itself,” he said. “Theres no feeling that can satisfy me more than the feeling that I learned or overcame something.”
Carl describes architecture as a field that’s dynamic and ever-changing, especially with recent advancements in technology which he believes will eventually influences how we work, build and design our communities. He also explains that there are many challenges that come with being an architect.
“One thing is that it is a fast-paced profession and that things change very quickly,” he said. “Also, it’s hard to get things done by yourself. You need others to make things happen, and the sooner I realized this, the better off I was. Challenges most of the time become opportunities to learn.”