Welcome to CRTKL Miami: Celebrating Hispanic & Latinx Heritage Month

Clare Sausen October 11, 2021

Welcome to CRTKL Miami: Celebrating Hispanic & Latinx Heritage Month

This profile of CRTKL’s Miami office is a continuation of our collection of stories celebrating Latinx and Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 – October 15).

Talking Heads Leaders Speak to CRTKL Miami’s Culture

What makes the Miami office unique?

Patricia Caripa: I think the culture of our people really makes us unique – Miami is a very special place with a lot of different nationalities — especially Hispanics and Latinx people. That influence is definitely present in both what our space looks like and how we work. Besides Hispanic and Latinx people though, we also have people from all over the country. Even if you’re American, you can enjoy a good Cuban coffee. That, plus such a fun-loving, outdoor culture encourages a lot of camaraderie.

Dan Freed: I’ve found that, if you spend enough time in Miami, you’re bound to feel the influence of the culture. It’s impossible to separate the city from the community here – they’re one and the same.

How does cultural diversity in the office affect our work?

DF: I think a lot of our clients are interested in representing the city in their design in some way. Many of our Hispanic and Latinx designers then include elements of their culture into their work for an authentic, unique perspective on the lived experience of Miami.

PC: Even though a lot of local projects are interested in the framework of “Latinx and Hispanic culture” or “Miami,” they all look so different because there are so many unique elements to the community and to our people.

What’s the importance of designing to celebrate and remember culture? How does it affect the user?

DF: I think that we try to infuse the local culture into a project design wherever we are. Especially in hospitality, location is the key element. We try to learn as much about the location and site as possible and consult the local community and the users about what works best for them. Since we’re in Miami, a lot of our local projects then represent elements of the Hispanic culture.

PC: As for how it affects the user, I think it helps tie you to the community in a symbolic way. People can feel like they’re a part of something when they’re there, and the buildings blend naturally with the local architecture. Like Dan said, that doesn’t only have to be for Hispanic people – we connect to the culture wherever we go.

In a workplace design, for instance, we try to mirror the city of the office location partially so that visitors can feel connected to the city and learn about the community a bit even if they don’t have much time to sightsee and explore.

DF: Everyone is looking for unique experiences, and when our designs exist within a pre-established community, we want to be authentic to that place and those people.

What’s Miami’s greatest strength?

PC: I know we’ve been talking a lot about diversity, but our office may not be as technically “diverse” as some others – meaning we don’t have as many global nationalities represented – but we do have a much larger representation of the Hispanic and Latinx community. So, instead of diversity, I’ll say that Miami’s greatest strength is its inclusivity – we all come together and mesh very well despite our differences.

DF: The firm’s commitment to inclusivity is one of the things that’s kept me here for 33 years – we have so many interesting people with such a wide variety of backgrounds.  Diversity is about the inclusion of people who are the exception, not the rule. So, I agree with Patricia, though we may sometimes misuse the word “diverse” for our office because we have a wider representation of fewer cultures, the firm as a whole is more diverse because of our people in Miami.

Patricia Caripa is a Marketing Associate in CRTKL’s Miami office. A graduate of both Universidad Yacambú with a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering and Marshall University with a Master of Business Administration in Marketing, she brings a breadth of experience from both the AEC and marketing elements of her career. With nearly twenty years of experience in the industry and nearly fifteen with CRTKL, she is a deeply valued member of the hospitality marketing team.

Dan Freed is a Principal and the Office Leader of CRTKL’s Miami office. Starting as a designer in the firm’s Baltimore headquarters in 1988, Dan is now a valued leader in CRTKL’s Miami office and is known for his contemporary design aesthetic, attention to detail and collaborative approach to leadership and project management. His diverse experience encompasses new construction, renovation, expansion and planning of complex large-scale hospitality, retail, entertainment, office and mixed-use projects. Dan’s career at CRTKL has provided him with extensive overseas experience in the Middle East, Asia and Latin America, where he is currently working on a number of high-profile, mixed-use developments.

Meeting the TeamHispanic and Latinx CRTKL Miami Employees Reflect on their Culture’s Influence on their Work

How does the Miami office, and the city more broadly, speak to your culture?

Gabby Landa: When my parents thought of moving to the United States, they could only think of the Magic City: Miami. The sub-tropical weather, the amazing food, the beaches, the relaxed ambiance – it was truly a paradise for our family. As a Latina and immigrant to this country, Miami has given me the opportunity to realize the American dream. This city is home to so many Hispanics & Latin Americans and our Miami office is an extension of that — it’s my home away from home (Cafecito and all).

Roger Sotelo:  City-wise, there’s a Latin vibe and the flavors are evident to all the senses. It’s perfect for anyone who enjoys the Hispanic and Latin culture. Office-wise, the various cultures are present in the endearing accents of so many. During a project where our Interiors team was in Miami, we’d often have project calls in Spanish! The commonalities were instant and thereby the synergy as well.

Christie Ramos Pacheco: As a Hispanic person, our culture is fundamentally based on family and relationships. Having been in the Miami office for over 15 years, I can honestly say that we are a family — if not a dysfunctional but loving one. We are there for each other — not only professionally, but socially and it is not uncommon to see many coworkers attending weddings, birthdays and other major life events.

What role does culture play in your career? What are some signatures?

GL: In our culture, you will find that hard work, honor and respect are very important. This has pushed me to be a better person, and especially a better employee. These values have opened more doors in my career than I can even count and I am so grateful — it was instilled in me since I was born.

Whatever you throw at a Hispanic or Latin American, they’ll figure out a way to make it brighter, uncomplicated and more profitable. Many call it hustle, we call it “tener chispa.”

RS: Textures. Color. Gathering. Music. Food. The many ways to enjoy and portray these elements are ever-present. Like many other cultures, the Latin one is heavily based on togetherness and sharing a meal – a cozy place to sit and banter, a larger table for many, music that evokes movement and instant mental transport to another place. These are some signatures that can be clad in many ways, but subconsciously speak to our culture that many can identify with and embrace.

CRP: As a Hispanic woman, we love to eat and feed people. We love getting family and friends together for any reason, if only to share a Cafecito. As such, when designing, I will usually design around the hearth (kitchen) and try to create spaces that are conducive to seating groups in a comfortable and easy manner.

Gabriela ‘Gaby’ Landa is a Financial Analyst in CRTKL’s Miami office. Accomplished and result-driven, she is a seasoned project manager with expertise in various industries managing multi-million-dollar projects. With an ability to define innovative solutions and methodologies for cost-effective executions, she is skilled in process improvement, risk assessment and cross-functional collaboration. Gaby is an articulate communicator dedicated to exceeding expectations.

Rogelio ‘Roger’ Sotelo is an Associate in CRTKL’s Miami office. With a passion for design and construction, he is focused on providing consistent and quality service. Having been fortunate to learn from a breadth of mentors, philosophies and cultures, Roger strives to provide service with broad consideration for value-driven results.


Christie Ramos Pacheco is a Senior Associate in CRTKL’s Miami office. A graduate of Florida International University with a bachelor’s degree in Interior Design, she brings an array of both technical skills and creativity to her design work. With nearly eighteen years’ experience with CRTKL, Christie is a deeply valued member of the hospitality team.


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.