Celebrating Latinx & Hispanic Heritage Month: Voices Around the Firm

Clare Sausen October 12, 2021

This compilation of voices from Latinx and Hispanic people around the globe at CRTKL is a continuation of our collection of stories celebrating Latinx and Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15th – October 15).

What does being Hispanic/Latinx in AEC (architecture, engineering, and construction) mean to you?

Jorge Beroiz: I feel incredibly proud of my roots. We share important values that come from our culture. The importance of our family, friends, working hard but enjoying life in full, even when things go wrong, is our ability to survive and be resilient.

Camila De Simas:  I would like to think that being Latin in the AEC world means bringing a different perspective and background to the conversation for unique solutions.

Mirian Alvarenga: Being a Hispanic in the AEC industry is pretty cool—it’s nice to know and feel the diversity in this field and be a part of it. Especially with CRTKL being an international firm, I work with other Hispanics and many other cultures.

How does your culture affect your work?

Julie Mendoza: In 2020, I was awarded a CRTKL Microgrant to take a closer look at community-based telemedicine in a primarily Latinx and Hispanic community: Pleasant Grove, TX.  Mario Sanchez and I (along with Michael St. Clair and Velma Jackman) researched medically underserved areas. My research question over the last year has been: how can we design within the existing community to provide improved access to health care for people that don’t have it? When I looked at this community, there were no hospitals and very few clinics in the area. There were, however, many gas stations. My research question then evolved into: how can you incorporate telemedicine into underserved communities in the places that residents frequent most?

These are similar to the communities in which I grew up. I believe healthcare is a fundamental human right, and I have the opportunity, the privilege, the education, and the resources through the microgrant program to foster healthier communities.

Angela Acosta: I think where you come from will always affect the work you do. I grew up in a tiny town in Colombia – the population was 42,000 as of 2015. I moved to the U.S. when I was 10 years old. So, it was a very formative experience in how I look at things. I feel fortunate to be at CRTKL – I’ve gone from a place with no traffic lights until just a few years ago to standing on the Great Wall of China. Being exposed to different cultures and geographies makes me realize how blessed I am.

Jorge: We appreciate simplicity and quality. Like our food cooked with simple ingredients, flair and skill. I suppose that sense of simplicity is inevitably translated to our design work.

Mirian: I feel like [my culture] gives me a different perspective on design and aesthetics. Due to my culture, I lean toward more color – and brighter colors at that. I also really appreciate the use of the cool patterns that are prevalent throughout Latin culture.

Alonso Cantu: That’s an interesting question because in Mexico, I was working as a designer, and now in Los Angeles, I’m doing something completely different – working as staff with groups such as the Digital Revolution Lab team. Being able to jump into a new role in a new country comfortably is a substantial benefit of being from another culture.

What is your favorite cultural tradition?

Camila: Brazil can sometimes seem less relevant in the U.S. than other Latin and Hispanic nationalities, but we celebrate our Independence Day on September 7th!

Mirian: At Christmas time, I will gather with my family, and we will sit down and make an assembly line of tamales to eat on Christmas Day! Also, every birthday party always has a pinata!

Cristina Driver: I’m proud of being Hispanic – especially with my mom being from Mexico City. When I first came to Dallas eight years ago, I made a solid effort to go to the Latino cultural center in Oak Cliff, one of our Hispanic neighborhoods. It has made me feel connected to my culture. And, whenever I travel, I love to participate in the local area’s cultural heritage. I like to celebrate all cultures.

Jorge Beroiz is a Principal in CRTKL’s London office. Jorge brings a diverse portfolio of mixed-use, retail and transit-oriented design to his projects across the UK, Europe and the Middle East. His work is recognized for design innovation and unique project solutions, and he is on the Wandsworth Design Review Panel. Jorge is dedicated to sustainability principles and works with clients and project teams to incorporate eco-friendly concepts whenever possible. His clients prize his willingness to try new ideas while keeping projects within scope.

Camila De Simas is an Associate Principal in CRTKL’s Chicago office. Camila’s architectural background and large-scale master planning experience has led to a specialty in new community developments and the broader field of urban design and placemaking on projects in the UK, Latin America, Russia, China and India. After living worldwide, Camila returned to her native Brazil to open CallisonRTKL’s Sao Paulo office and first location in South America.

Mirian Alvarenga is a Senior Designer in CRTKL’s Washington, DC office. Mirian is an experienced graphic designer with a demonstrated history of working in the architecture & planning industry. She is skilled in Logo Design, Retail, Adobe Creative Suite, Adobe InDesign CC and Concept Development. A graduate of George Washington University with a Bachelor of Arts in Interior Design, Mirian is a strong arts and design professional and a valuable member of the global firmwide team.

Julie Mendoza is an Associate Medical Planner in CRTKL’s Dallas office. Julie is a certified LEED Green Associate and licensed in Evidence-Based Design from The Center for Health Design. A graduate of University of Southern California with a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture, Julie is a skilled research and planning professional. In 2021, she was awarded a Microgrant with partner Mario Sanchez for their community telehealth research.

Angela Acosta is an Associate Principal in CRTKL’s Los Angeles office. As a brand strategist in CallisonRTKL’s Los Angeles office, Angela assists clients in translating the meaning behind their firm’s vision and image into the built environment. Her background in marketing and advertising brings a unique approach to this process, drawing on her uncanny ability to identify key factors influencing the end-user experience and building on them. Angela’s creative sensibilities allow her to develop effective concepts that guide the subsequent phases of the branding process. At the same time, her project management skills ensure that all ideas are successfully brought to fruition.

Alonso Cantu is a staff member in CRTKL’s Los Angeles office working with the Information Systems team. Alonso is a graduate of Tecnológico de Monterrey and a certified LEED Green Associate. A former winner of the CRTKL Digital Evolution Lab in 2020, Alonso’s team Propolis sought to develop an “ecosystem of tools” across multiple design phases to create buildings that function as “operating systems” to provide data and feedback.

Cristina Driver is an Associate in CRTKL’s Dallas office. With more than five years of experience with the firm, she is a detail-oriented, confident and successful Project Manager who is efficient in scheduling, budgeting, invoicing and delivering accurate and quality projects.


Author Spotlight

Clare Sausen
Clare Sausen is a Content Writer for CallisonRTKL. Based in Washington, D.C., she leverages her personal and professional experience in journalism, radio, and nonprofit communication to serve as a valuable member of the global firmwide team. Since attaining her Bachelor of Arts degree from George Washington University in Communication and American Studies, she has honed her craft of architectural storytelling across multiple platforms.