25 Years of Design with Harbans Ghataode
An interview with Harbans Ghataode, Senior Associate | Senior Designer
How did you first get involved with Taylor Design?
I had been working in Alberta, Canada and Taylor had advertised for a position – they were looking for someone who could design. I flew down to Newport Beach and was interviewed by Rick Savely and had a follow up meeting with Linda Taylor where I was offered the job. I was thrilled! Somehow Taylor Design struck me more than some of the other companies where I interviewed. The attitude, the healthcare projects and the location. And Linda asked if I could start tomorrow! So I started working and my family came down about 6 or 7 months later. It was a big move coming here, we bought a house and have been in Irvine ever since. And I’ve been with Taylor all this while – time flies when you’re having fun.
How has the field of architecture changed since you first started working with Taylor Design?
Oh incredibly! When I first started here, we were doing smaller projects, little remodels. For us to compete with the big-name firms, it seemed totally out of reach at the time. When I joined Taylor Design, I think we had a staff of 20 or less. And we’ve grown, we have multiple offices now, but it’s changed so much. The first medical office buildings we designed were for Kaiser Permanente in Yorba Linda and Santa Ana. And then we went on to design the Hoag Hospital Women’s Pavilion which was really big. So slowly we’ve been growing and getting out there and developing. Now we are getting into master planning for clients like Sharp HealthCare and Scripps Health. What’s been really cool is the people in the office, the collaboration we have amongst each other. We learn a lot, there are no secrets, very transparent and that was a big thing for me. That was a big change for me compared to my previous firms.
Why did you choose to stay at Taylor Design?
The firms that I worked with previously, they weren’t transparent. They weren’t even willing to share the profits. Some of them were reluctant to have you even meet the clients. They would have these secret meetings. And those firms have disappeared because they didn’t have programs like employee-ownership, and they didn’t encourage growth in the company. It was hire-and-fire if you need people. It was a totally different attitude.
When I joined the Taylor Design, I was introduced to clients and was encouraged to go meet with the PMs and after a few months I was bringing in projects and running them by myself. So that gave me a lot of freedom and I learned a lot. What’s kept me with Taylor is the people around me. The staff here – you can walk up to anyone and ask a question. It’s an open book and everyone is keen on sharing knowledge and that’s how a firm grows. It’s a learning process that’s ongoing – I’ve learned a lot in 25 years.
What has been your greatest accomplishment during your time here?
Some of my favorite projects have been with Kaiser Permanente – the LA Medical Center Rejuvenate Café, Antelope Valley Medical Offices and the Market Street Medical Office. Market Street has won lots of awards including AIA Orange County and Kaiser’s own in-house Design Excellence Award. Whenever I drive past Kaiser LA Medical Center and I see the café, it’s right on Sunset Boulevard, I am amazed at how much it changed the building. I have had physicians tell me “oh we still love this place.” Not only the design, but the circulation. Originally there was a long concourse connecting five buildings and it was basically a corridor on the outside with no relief. So I broke up the long journey with the café. It’s nice to smell the coffee and it’s constantly packed with staff and patients as well.
Name one word that describes what Taylor Design means to you.
Kick-a** design. At Taylor, our goal has always been to be great at design. To me, Taylor Design, the name describes everything.
I’d like to mention the management. It’s been awesome and that’s one of the reasons why I’m still here. They are so considerate, and they always treat everyone like a family. When I started it was Linda Taylor and then Gary Simmons – he’s a few months behind me to celebrate 25 years with the firm and I’d sure like to mention him. Randy taking over for Linda has been awesome. And also, Gary Davidson. I really enjoy working with them. So, it’s been incredible, the management’s been incredible.