How do you define hospitality?
Dan Ryan has been working in the hospitality industry for nearly 30 years, and he‘s just as fascinated by it as he was on day one. Join him in this weekly podcast as he invites industry thought leaders to discuss what hospitality means to them - in the built environment, in business, and in our daily lives.
Dan Ryan: Today's guest is an architect, innovator, and culture advocate. She's passionate about the design of communities, spaces and experiences that connect people.
She creates places that inspire interaction and enrich social experiences. She's a principal and the managing director of the New York office at Cooper Carey, ladies and gentle. Alex Lapinski. Welcome Alex.
Alex Lopatynsky: Thanks for having me, Dan. I'm excited to chat with you this afternoon.
Dan Ryan: I got your last name right?
Alex Lopatynsky: You were spot
Dan Ryan: on. Um, well, I'm just really honored as with [00:01:00] all my guests, to just have your time here and hear a little bit about you. I know that, you know, we've been at many of the events at the same time. Um, we run in the same circles and as an a. I'm really curious to get your, because there's this, also, this, there's back and forth between designers, architects, architects, designers.
Sometimes there's a grand alignment, sometimes there's, you know, these Venn diagrams. Um, but like wearing that hat as a principal and a managing director at Cooper Carey and being an architect, how do you define hospitality?
Alex Lopatynsky: So Dan, as a i, I love that question because for me, yes, I am an architect and a designer.
I think they're one and the same, honestly. Um, Hospitality is less about, in my mind, the physical place, but it's the emotional feeling you experience from [00:02:00] entering it. It is that, warm hug you get when you walk into a small boutique hotel. It is the great feeling you have having. intimate dinner with a bunch of friends in a small restaurant with great wine and company, it's the welcome that you get walking into a reception area in an office building, or a office floor, Does it make you feel like you should be there, or, does it make you feel like, you're a stranger there, right? The design does emote or evoke the feeling
Dan Ryan: my mind, and, and I think one of the things that, again, without having that black and white definition of what hospitality is, one of the things that comes up repeatedly is this [00:03:00] idea of warmth and feeling.
Yeah. Which is kind of really hard to like get a binary definition. It's kind of like you, you know it when you see it or not even see it. You know it when you feel it.
Alex Lopatynsky: It, it's that for sure. And, and we all feel it differently, right? Because we use our personal past experiences to define what warmth is.
Right. You know, we may tie it back to our childhood experiences, right? Um, what, what is warmth? What did warmth mean to you as a kid? Um, and, and you use that feeling as you mature and, and grow older. Some of us may use, um, experiences from. Early adult years, uh, as defining warmth. Some of it may be, you know, that personal interaction with the human beings in the space.
Right. It's, um, I think we were, when we were prepping for this, I had mentioned, uh, a friend of ours who had a restaurant in the city, um Oh yeah. Tiny [00:04:00] little shoebox of a restaurant called Graffiti. Um, and unfortunately it's is not there anymore. But, uh, Jihan Meda, who was the chef restaurateur, could only.
20 people in this restaurant and the kitchen was like a closet in the, the back of the restaurant. And he cooked everything on a hot plate and Wow. You always Literally a hot plate. Literally a hot plate. Oh wow. Literally a hot plate or multiple hot plates. And the food was. Incredible, um, highly rated, zag rated restaurant.
Um, I mean, he had a, he had a great following at the time, but where I'm going with this is that even though it was a small space and minimally designed, It was, it, it was probably the best example of hospitality because the people who worked there welcomed you. Like you were being welcomed into somebody's home.
They sat you down into these intimate, um, spaces for groups of [00:05:00] four or six or even two. And the fact that you were so close to the kitchen, um, and, and you knew how he was preparing the food. When you ate and drank, you knew that it was, you know, kind of as if you were sitting in somebody else's kitchen and getting served dinner.
So that, that experience and feeling of, of hospitality, um, you know, doesn't have to be a luxury hotel, uh, and a resort. And by the way, that is hospitality too. But, um, I, I think it comes in all scales is where I'm going with, so that you can get that feeling of, of being welcome.
Dan Ryan: So one of the things that I've been, I've been intrigued about, um, in speaking with, I guess like, um, they would be colleagues at yours, but at larger architectural firms.
Where, how many offices do you have
Alex Lopatynsky: now? We are currently three offices, but we are And where are they? They're in Atlanta. We're headquartered in Atlanta, DC and [00:06:00] New York. Um, we have over 350 employees, so we're not a small firm. No, I
Dan Ryan: would not, I would say bi, I would say that's on the bigger side. And especially when I, you know, before we spoke, I was looking, um, at all the different studios you have, right?
Amongst those three offices. And it's everything from graphic, graphic design to inter design to hospitality, to government, to science and technology to transit and urban designing, planning. I mean, it's, it's this vast multidisciplinary firm where everyone's doing different things. And I'm curious with you.
You know, focusing on the hospitality side, do you bring a lot of the, like, how do you convey or are you ever asked to convey that feeling of warmth that ho that you. Feel hospitality is into those other channels where like science and tech, like, maybe not. I, I don't know if I would consider that, but like I'm really curious how you weave that feeling of warmth into all of your studios.
Alex Lopatynsky: a great question, and we do it all the time, and I, I'll stay say that. We start from the premise that Cooper Carey, uh, works in a, what we call a mixed use ecosystem. So at the core, of what we do is the disciplines we, we design in, whether it's architecture and interiors or graphics or branding or landscape architecture.
But what surrounds it are all these studios you just described and they, and we influence each other. Right? And so, um, we have worked on workplace projects where. We are influencing the design of that workplace through hos, through hospitality principles and creating these moments and areas of warmth and communication and, um, gathering.
Right. Um, we'll, we do it in our multifamily projects as well, so I would say, Uh, yes, I work in the hospitality studio, but I also get to work in all these other studios as well and, and be, and I'm [00:08:00] able to bring those concepts to the thinking around, um, planting the seeds in, in our early stages of design.
And it, we, we see it in the industry too. I mean, hospitality has absolutely influenced, uh, all the different spaces we occupy.
Dan Ryan: Uh, I completely agree, and I think that's why this podcast has become something more than just a little hobby that I did, because I do believe hospitality is not limited, obviously not limited to hotels, but, and it touches everything.
Yeah. Um, So I think ev we can all learn from it. And again, it's like, why not make others feel warm and heard? Of course and seen it's like,
Alex Lopatynsky: of, of course, of course. Yeah. I mean, even think about like educational projects, right? Um, schools for, for children. Why wouldn't you wanna create environments even on the outside, where these students can gather and be together and feel safe.
Mm-hmm. and feel welcomed or feel part of [00:09:00] something. Um, you know, instead of being in a. Box where they're facing one direction, uh, in a, in a classroom. Mm-hmm. I, I think it's, it's here to stay and let's put it that way, where hospitality influences everything
Dan Ryan: we do. It is, and I think, and ta going back to the introduction, um, that I wrote, that I read about, um, I described you as a, um, a culture advocate, an advocate of culture or something like that.
Yeah. Um, when you think. Culture and hospitality. How, how do you advocate for hospitality or what, how do you define yourself as a, as a culture advocate within Cooper Carey, and. Yeah. And anything, uh, uh, further at large, like, I'd love to dig into that, um, like how you define culture and like how you're advocating for it.
Alex Lopatynsky: Sure. Um, thank you for that question because I, I would say first and for foremost, I, I am a people person. I love to be [00:10:00] around people. I love to listen. I love to engage with folks and, you know, that's, that's a component of hospitality, if you will. Right. But, and, but I, but it is who I am as well. It's my upbringing, it's my education, it's my, uh, luck of my professional experience and being and working with individuals who.
Really value that social interaction, uh, as a mechanism for success in everything we do, whether it's designing a space or engaging with a client or, um, Talking about Cooper Carey. Uh, it, it cul culture, the way I see it related to hospitality is that human, uh, piece. And what I do, um, and have done my, my, pretty much my whole career I would say, but certainly at Cooper Carey, is make sure that we're all kind of talking to each other and building bridges, um, to learn from each other.[00:11:00]
Communication's a big part of that. Um, and so I'm, uh, I'm sure that any Cooper car that's listening to this, uh, who knows me, will, will nod their heads, uh, uh, when I say I like to bring people together and make sure everybody's talking to each other. Right. Um, and, uh, and I mean literally talking to each other because I think that is the best form of communication and building culture.
Um, and then I'm not putting down technology. Uh, it's, it's part of our life. A, a phone conversation or, or a video conversation when you can hear people's intonation. A voice that sends a message, a feeling of connectivity. And that's part of culture, right? Being connected to each other, um, working together in a, in a, in an environment that makes you happy.
Dan Ryan: And then I can imagine like everyone kind of went distributed and remote and now people are starting to come back together. As you think about, [00:12:00] I, I don't think we've really figured out what that balance is yet. It's still like that marketplace of ideas, uh, is still trying to self determine itself. Yeah.
As a, as an architect and designer, um, and also principle at a firm with 350 people, how are you bridging that gap? Or how are you. Thinking about that between internally within your offices and your office, and also on the projects that you're working in?
Alex Lopatynsky: Yeah, I mean, it's, uh, you're right, we have not figured this out yet.
We're still everyone in the globally. Um, what, what is, where are we gonna land with it? I don't think anybody really knows yet. But at the core of all this is, I mean, certainly my belief, um, is that our best. and our best collaboration is done in person. Hmm. Um, does it have to be in person all the [00:13:00] time, every day of the week?
No. But striking the right balance of when that happens, I think is really individual, um, if not as individual as a hu as a person, but individual to the team and the project and the schedule. So I, and I'm speaking about. Architecture, right. And design. Um, only I would imagine there's probably some really good data out there that supports what I'm saying.
Um, and that collaboration is best on in person. Uh, we pre carry, have a hybrid, uh, flexible work model coming out of the pandemic. Um, and the way we make it work in new. Really is all about communication. Again, it's, it's, that word keeps coming up. It really does. It's the special sauce , because if you don't tell [00:14:00] somebody, or if you don't get an idea across in a way that that.
The, the person receiving it fully understands it. You're not communicating. Mm-hmm. . And so we use all kinds of communication. We use teams and chats and emails and phone calls. Um, we have some requirements around when we want folks in the office, you know, and it's, it's office-based, but it's also project-based cuz we have project deadlines and sometimes we need everybody in the office, multiple days in a.
Does that happen every week? No. But, but it, but we, when we ask people respond, I would say generally in a very positive way. And I think, although people don't tell me this , I think people are happy with the direction we've laid out. Um, so that's how we manage it.
Dan Ryan: Awesome. Um, so shifting back, I want to get [00:15:00] back into that feeling.
Of warmth and I guess you know how everyone brings it from all different areas, from their, their childhood, their different upbringings. Yeah. Their life experience. Um, can you walk us through a project that you may have worked on any, at any point in your journey, um, or your career that is just a really good, or maybe one of your favorite?
I know all of your projects you love equally, but is there anything that really exemplifies that conveyance of warmth and community that you could kind of talk us through?
Alex Lopatynsky: Sure. There is a project, um, It. I worked on this maybe six, seven years ago, so it was prior to me joining Cooper Carey. But it is thing, it is something that I bring to [00:16:00] every project I work on now.
Uh, the client was a nonprofit, um, that was looking to build, um, a business. Model around co-working, hospitality and childcare. Um, and we got to work on the pilot program for it. And one of the most interesting things about this project was, uh, balancing the ethos of this nonprofit with the business. Um, Requirements that they had all through the lens of hospitality, right?
So it was co the, the business was coworking in childcare, and what linked it together was hospitality. Um, there were cafes and restaurants that were tied to it, but the underlying theme was all about creating a place that the community users of this, for [00:17:00] lack of a better word, mixed use hospitality place.
Um, Felt welcome, felt, embraced, felt like they were, th this was part of their community. Um, because that was the feeling that the nonprofit wanted. It was their, it was in their ethos and it, and it, they wanted to have that in their business model for these locations across the, the country. So, to me, I, I, that was the most rewarding of all the projects.
Um, Worked on to date, uh, because of that, because of being able to translate that
Dan Ryan: for them. It's amazing how I appreciate that so much and just, it's amazing how in all of these conversations that I'm having, these themes come up and just, I think it was maybe the last one or. I had a conversation with, uh, Stephanie Hopkins from Marriott, and she was talking about an entrepreneur that inspires her and she figured out this way [00:18:00] to, um, I forget the, the woman's name, but it was co-working and childcare.
And when we were saying, or you were saying before, not we, it was all you. We, we haven't really figured it out yet. I'm, I'm actually intrigued and curious.
Why this childcare and co-working thing hasn't really taken off a bit more because in this hybrid world, like, why aren't we doing that? I know I was at the, you know, the Marriott headquarters, they, they just built this new one and they actually put in childcare on the second or fourth floor. I forget.
Yeah. And to me, I remember when I, my dad, he had this, uh, he had a factory in New Jersey when I was growing up. And I remember he wanted to, for, for many of the women that worked there, he wanted to have. Childcare for them so that they could come and work and the kids were cared for cuz it's expensive and they didn't really know what to, like, how to make it work.
Yeah. But [00:19:00] he, the bureaucracy mm-hmm. of, and the cost of dealing with the state of New Jersey and trying to make this happen. It was just, it was, there was such a tremendous barrier to entry and as an architect, I'm sure you're dealing, you know, with so many. , um, laws and ordinances and yeah. Um, is there a way to kind of break through that?
Because to me, I think that, that, that also helps solve an employment challenge that we're having currently in the United States and probably globally as well. You know,
Alex Lopatynsky: you'd think we could make this simpler and easier to make happen. Um, and I'm sure we could, but the regulatory. Aspect of childcare, at least from the experience I had in doing this project, first of all, differs from state to state.
Um, and in some states it's more, you know, [00:20:00] regulated to the point where, you know, they basically prescribe the box for you, right? There's no design involved. Mm. And, and, and you have to layer on those regulatory requirements on top of codes and local zoning requirements. So it, it gets complicated to make it happen.
Now there's always a solution. There's always a way to figure it out. Um, and I would imagine that some really smart people could get into a room together to, to do that, because I agree with you, this should be something we could easily. For the current, you know, challenge we have in getting folks to be in the office and manage their lives outside of the office.
Right. Um, childcare is a big deal. Yeah. It's incredibly expensive. It's hard to find one that can cover, you know, your day the way you need it to, and those employers who do [00:21:00] provide it for their employees, I think that's a, that's a phenomenal. Um,
Dan Ryan: yeah, and I'm also thinking just of, you know, the, the square footage footprints that so many large corporations have that, you know, they've had leased out since before the pandemic and like as p as they start to reevaluate people coming back to work.
Yeah. You know, they're not gonna need as much space cuz they'll probably be able to stagger Yeah. Who's there? But if they have all this extra space, I'm like, why not allocate some of that to childcare? To me it just seems. A no-brainer, and I'm sure there's a lot of different ideas in there, but it it. I think it would just help so much, uh, from a macro sense.
Alex Lopatynsky: Yeah. I, you know, well, you know, you have to think it's similar to kind of school design, right? You have to think about outdoor play area. You have to think about, certainly also the ages that you are, um, covering there, you know, infants versus toddlers versus, you know, Afterschool care, [00:22:00] you have different requirements in terms of space for that.
So isn't, it's not necessarily, oh, we've got this, you know, half a floor plate, let's turn it into childcare. You have, you have to think about all of the, um, additional programmatic spaces that you need and as well as security, right? You have to think about totally that, um, so. And I would imagine a lot of employers who have office space don't have anybody internally that could manage that for them.
Right. Or even knows how to manage that for them. So, you know, thinking about, you know, do you outsource that and how do you outsource that? You know, there's, like I said, I am sure there's an answer out there to make it happen. There are employers that have done this, um, but they tend to be larger employers who, who?
The opportunity to, to carve out that space to provide for their
Dan Ryan: employees. Yeah. And again, it kind of ties back to where you said we haven't figured it out yet. I feel like [00:23:00] that has to be a component into it. Um, yeah. Okay. So now I wanna shift gears a little bit into. You know, your career arc, you know, as a principal and managing director of the New York City office for Cooper Carrier.
That's amazing. And I'm a firm believer that we all stand on the shoulders of those before us. So if you think about how you describe hospitality and this idea of warmth and communication and coming together, is there any, um, mentor or inspiration along your career journey? That exemplified that the best that you kind of moved on or has taken with you and paid it forward, so to speak?
Alex Lopatynsky: I've had some amazing mentors. I'm one of those very lucky people. I think. Um, they were all males in this profession cuz there weren't women in leadership roles. Um, I would, I've had two or three that [00:24:00] have really impact. My trajectory in art, my career. But I, I would say my biggest mentor is my dad. Um, oh, my father's a civil engineer.
Um, my mom's an artist, so imagine that. Engineer artist influencing an architect, right? Um, but my dad, it was less about his professional experience, but more his, what was in his d n A around leadership. Um, Really, I think, influenced me the most and that d n A around leadership came from. His experience and my experience, um, were Ukrainian American.
I was born here. My folks, um, came over here as refugees after the second World war. Um, and were, my dad's family were, um, uh, come from a line of Ukrainian scouts who established scouting, actually we're part of establishing scouting in [00:25:00] Ukraine back in 19. Um, Or 1912, I should say. Um, and the, the attributes of scouting, right?
And leadership and setting, um, kind of the right tone around working within your community. We lived and breathed it growing up in my family, but we were also members of Ukrainian scouting. Uh, I happen, happened to be a member of the New York troupe, but those, um, like
Dan Ryan: your Boy Scouts, girl Scouts scouting.
Alex Lopatynsky: yeah, yeah, yeah. Wow. Yeah. But in Ukrainian . Wow. Yes. Um, so I think the, those elements of scouting and leadership and mentorship and, you know, you, the idea of doing it together and always being surrounded by those influencer. Um, and my dad really being the one, um, never pushing us into it, but [00:26:00] just talking about it.
And it was, you know, it was always, you know, over here on the, on, on this side of my, my head, um, to this day, to this day. Um, so when, when I work with folks and I've. Done this numerous times, I think sometimes about, well, what would my dad do in this situation? Right. Um, how would he handle it? Uh, so that's, I I do believe that my attitude towards building community within Cooper Carey, or within my teams, or how I mentor others, does come from my dad's, um, uh, influence and mentorship on me.
Um, wow. Yeah. I. I, you know, I got lucky. Are you a girl scout? I was. I still am, by the way. No way. I am. Oh my God. I am. Yeah, I am. My kids are, my kids are thin. Mints are
Dan Ryan: my favorite.
Alex Lopatynsky: Well, I'm not an American Girl Scout. I'm a [00:27:00] Ukrainian girl Scout, so we don't do cookies. Oh. But. You know, we do other fun stuff.
Dan Ryan: that's a Wow. That's amazing. Yeah. So you're Ukrainian Girl
Alex Lopatynsky: Scout? I am, yeah. Wow. The organization is called Plat, p l a s T. Um, and we've got in the Amer, in the North American diaspora between the US and Canada, we've got lots of locations. Um, and you know, we're going on third generations of Ukrainian Americans being part of this.
Dan Ryan: Okay. So then I. The elephant in the room then is with all the insanity going on in Ukraine right now. Mm-hmm. , what are some of the largest initiatives that Plus is taking on right now in ca, in North America?
Alex Lopatynsky: Yeah. Uh, since the war escalated in February 22, um, Plus has been integral in, uh, supporting through fundraising for humanitarian aid, for, um, for the refugees [00:28:00] coming here.
Uh, Individuals are contributing on an individual basis, but the organization is also, you know, fundraising and doing all kinds of things, uh, getting medical supplies. Over in the beginning, there were a lot of troops that were putting together first aid, uh, kits, right? They were, they were packing stuff up, sending it to Ukraine for immediate use, um, clothes, food, diapers, you know, um, very, very active.
Um, and of course there's Ukrainian scouts in Ukraine who have volunteered to fight on the front, right? Both men and women. Um, and my personal, um, soror groups and, and older scouts are belong to sororities and fraternities. We do actually have some members of our sorority who are actively fighting, and these are women and who are mother.
Who are fighting on the [00:29:00] front.
Dan Ryan: Um, it's so interesting. I'm actually looking on my computer right now cuz through this podcast, um, I think it was literally just today. Oh, I don't know how to find it. I got someone, a woman from Ukraine reached out, she's in the hospitality industry and um, wow. And I, and I was thinking, wow, she must be experiencing some incredible.
Alex Lopatynsky: right now. It's intense. I mean it's, I mean, this is, and
Dan Ryan: then I was also like, how are they, how is she accessing? I guess that's all that starlink stuff, right? They're not, yes.
Alex Lopatynsky: Fully cut off, right? Yes. They're not fully cut off. They're very connected. Um, You know, I mean, it's horrific what is happening on that end.
On the other side, they're very connected, um, and very western in everything. You know, they're, you know, let, let's not discount their, their connection to Europe and, um, [00:30:00] the rest of the world for the last 30 years since Ukraine gained its independence from, um, the Soviet Empire. But I, I, I, there. People are moving on, people are living their lives.
People mm-hmm. aren't stopping and saying, you know, why? They're saying, why is this happening to me, but what am I gonna do once this war is over in rebuilding Ukraine? And that's happening through the diaspora around the world. And it's certainly something, um, as a, as an individual I'm thinking about. But we've also, as a firm, wanna.
We're looking at ways that we can help rebuild, whether it's going in and helping replant something or provide some temporary shelter, um, ideas, or, or when, when the war finally ends and we are actually building buildings again. How can, how can Cooper Carey contribute to that? Um, I know it's, it's, I hope others are feeling the same [00:31:00] way.
Um, cuz there's gonna be a lot of. Rebuilding that's gonna have to happen after this is over.
Dan Ryan: From an order of magnitude as it relates to plus, like is there a, like a, a number, uh, that has been fundraised or an an amount of aid that's been, um, brought over to Ukraine?
Alex Lopatynsky: You know what? There sent over there? I am sure there is.
I just don't know what it is off the top of my head. We could probably, you know, Google it, um,
Dan Ryan: plastic, because I can't imagine. Like, if you think about the supply lines in any, in any war, like that's really the most critical thing. And it seems that with Ukraine, like there are so many Ukrainians in North America, so many, and they're all
They've all, well, not, I'm not, I don't wanna make sweeping generalizations, but I'm sure many of them are done very well and I'm sure many of them are sending over a tremendous amount of, uh, money and material.
Alex Lopatynsky: Yes. There. Yes,
Dan Ryan: there are very, very, I just found out, I'm sorry, I, and I just found her name. [00:32:00] Her name's like Yulia Senco.
Mm-hmm. . And she's with this Ukrainian Hotel group in, called Rebus, R I B A S. So I, um, I'm writing it down. Yeah. I'm gonna send her a copy of this. Um, yeah. And just kind of redirect her here. Yeah, this will be
Alex Lopatynsky: amazing. Do you know where she's from? Does it say,
Dan Ryan: uh, I'm not, let's see if I look there. Sorry guys.
I normally try not to look at my computer when I'm doing these.
Alex Lopatynsky: Sorry. Um, probably should talk about this afterwards. .
Dan Ryan: Oh no. That, no, this is like, this is timely and Yeah. And pretty exciting.
Alex Lopatynsky: So I, I just wanna, you know, I wanna make sure that we are, um, identifying there are lots of nonprofits. North America that are part of fundraising.
It's not just pla um mm-hmm. there. Oh, I'm sure. But there, there's, and there are some very generous Ukrainian Americans who have really leaned in and generous with their money, but also with their time. Um, [00:33:00] it's, it's, it's one of those things that how can you not participate in some way to. Be part of the support for this country that is fighting for the rest of the world, in my opinion.
Dan Ryan: Um, it, well, a lot of it is written in Clic and I'm not good at that, so I couldn't tell you later. Send it to me.
Alex Lopatynsky: I'll read it.
Dan Ryan: I gotta brush up on it. I can barely read English, so. Or like the, the, the English alphabet. So, uh, anyway, um, okay, so that's really amazing on, on your dad and his D n A and that whole idea of leadership, if you were to think about on your career path, and I know that a lot of what our parents say to us, we always take with us.
Yeah. Um, Into every arena. But who, who on your career path would've made you feel that warmth or teach or show you a way or a, or a technique to express that warmth e either within a company [00:34:00] or on a project that you're
Alex Lopatynsky: working on? Yeah, so I would say my first boss, um, I was lucky enough to work for a very small firm in New York.
Um, at the time when I was still in college, when still in architecture school, um, I went to. For those of you who are curious. Uh, so, um, I got to do this. I had a summer internship with this small firm, um, and one of the partners there was, uh, a family friend. So, you know, again, connections through my dad, but the way the, the, the partners ran, the, the firm was through this very open communication, um, took me under my, under their wing and I believe.
It gave me the opportunity to see every facet of the profession, um, and what it took. . And so worked there as a summer intern, graduated, worked there as, as a, you know, [00:35:00] emerging architect. Um, and got to do everything at a very young age, um, and got to experience and get exposure to everything. And, and the way that happened really was that, um, warm embrace, figuratively of my mentor.
Showing me the way, you know, taking me places, including me in things, having conversations, uh, with me about it. And it set, it really set the tone of how one should behave as you, as you interact with people. Um, and what was the, what was his name? George Sowicki. Um, the firm was, um, At the time was Greenfield Soki to, I think it's now just Soki toll these days.
Uh, got it. Uh, but, uh, and George is retired now, , but I do get to see him every once in a while. Um, but at the, he, he, [00:36:00] he, I believe, put me on a, on a. Platform that I could make a really big leap in my next career jump, um, because of the exposure he had given me. Um, I'm sure if he's listening to this, he'll be, he'd say, why didn't you stick around?
Dan Ryan: he'll send you a thank you card. Um, I, I am sure
Alex Lopatynsky: we're giving him a shout out, I'm sure.
Dan Ryan: Um, so then that also goes back to the idea. How this whole workplace thing hasn't figured itself out. Right. Because here George is kind of, I think you said, taking you under his wing. Yeah. And kind of showing you that the gray areas of how we do things right.
It's all those things that. You kind of have to show you, it's not like you're learning it out of a, out of a a process manual. Right? A hundred percent. How do, and then with all the communication and culture that you're talking about, Cooper, Carey, and your team or the company at large, what are ways [00:37:00] that you're kind of cutting through this hybrid workplace so that you're able to pay what George showed you forward?
Alex Lopatynsky: well, I encourage my folks to come into the office more than the three days a week that we have, uh, as our policy. Um, and you know, I think it's, it's, it is a show and tell experience. I would hope that some of the folks that work with me, um, see the value of being in the office when we're all there.
Um, and it's not just. Me taking certain people places. It's also just listening to the, over, listening to the conversations I'm having with others, right? Overhearing conversations. I mean, we have an open office environment so everybody hears everybody's, uh, conversation. Um, so I, you know, I do believe some of the [00:38:00] younger talent that I'm surrounded.
Does see the value in it and are starting to see, you know what? Maybe if I'm in the office more, I will connect with Alex more, and maybe I'll have an opportunity to go site visit with Alex, client meeting with Alex, networking with Alex, right. And, and spread the word to those who aren't necessarily doing that, right?
I mean, obviously I can't be everywhere and I don't wanna be everywhere, but, you know, . But if I can get three or four people to start doing what I'm doing, that just exponentially pushes out that idea of, of mentoring and, and, and growth and warmth about, and, and how we get to be better at what.
Dan Ryan: Totally.
And it's actually interesting, I was just talking to someone the other day, so people who reach out, [00:39:00] like I get a lot of feedback on the podcast or I should say we, cuz it takes a village. But, um, one of, one little channel of feedback is, I'm gonna call them kids, but it's like, it's like students who are at Pratt or other universities.
I think University of Cincinnati, um, where is it? Cornell? Yeah. Where are the other one? Like, uh, couple from, oh my gosh. Uh, war Eagle. Yeah. Auburn. Like all these people who have these like kind of cool hospitality and design overlay things going on. Yeah. Yeah. And also interns. Who have, are just starting out or people, because I think that one of the roles that this podcast is serving is it's that water cooler talk that's kind of missing or waiting in line.
I don't know if people wait in line for copies anymore, but like it's, I do. It's that walking past each other. Yeah. Um, you know, using the fax machine. Just kidding. But, um, people are like, oh wow, [00:40:00] thanks. This is really cool. It gave me some new perspective. Or I was intrigued by hospitality design. , and I think that, that it's kind of filling a void that's been left in this hybrid, uh, yes.
Alex Lopatynsky: This is this, this part of interaction outside of, at least for us, project work is still part of the profession, you know? Yeah. I mean it, to, to, to learn everything about architecture takes a really, really long time. It's not, you know, you don't graduate from architecture school and you're bake. It just, you're just getting started and you know, you can learn to put a building together or learn to create a space, but there's so much more to the practice of architecture and those other bits to, to your point, filling in those gaps is this, it is this human interaction piece.
It is being together. Um, [00:41:00] and yes, I do remember fax. Oh, by the way, yes.
Dan Ryan: Love fax machines. , uh, or a telex machine, so, oh, that too. Yeah. Um, so as you, you know, look, we just did a little journey, like looking back over your career, girl Scout School first mentor, you know now, a leader in a big company. Um, as you look forward, what's exciting you most about the future?
Alex Lopatynsky: I have to tell you, I am so excited about seeing, at least in my profession, more win women entering it and stepping in as leaders and not just like a trickle, but big numbers and, and it's not just women, but diverse members of our society entering the profession and influencing. Different [00:42:00] ways to figure things out, bringing other ways of solving problems to the equation, bringing their personal experiences that can be so varied to solving the problems that I am.
I am thrilled about that and I'm excited to see that growth happen. I'm, I'm an optimistic person, generally speaking. Mm-hmm. , so I always like to see the bright side of things and so I, I wanna make sure that in order for these women to stay in this profession, I wanna make sure we influence the, the, the place that, um, sets them up for success so that they can pursue their career.
and do other things that had stopped women in staying in the profession in the past. Yeah. Um, it was child rearing,
Dan Ryan: uh, and yeah, well, you know, it's that, uh, co-working Yep. [00:43:00] Childcare thing, which I'm sure is a, a mosa, like a, a mosaic in the overall solution, not like it's a part of it and it just needs to be figured out.
And I, as you're saying that, I'm also thinking.
You know, you look at some countries where women or other members of society are subjugated or not allowed to enter the workforce or mm-hmm. , whatever, or just, you know, they're just kind of pushed off to the sides. Yeah. It's really, obviously, in my opinion, terrible. But it's also li so limiting because you're , you're right.
Intelligence op. Um, I guess like intelligence and skill and, um, just brain power is de, is distributed evenly across all people, all sexes. Yeah. And when you're subjugating [00:44:00] or limiting those people from entering or being a part of it, you're leaving half you're, you're leaving half or, or, or more of your, of your potential.
On the table, or not even on the table, like wherever. It's not even getting to the table. Yeah. It's not even getting to the table. And it just, it blows my mind. And then, you know, to hear you say, what's exciting you about the future is having all these women and other people entering the, the workforce and droves as far as like architects, right.
Cuz you originally said when you started it was all males. Um, well,
Alex Lopatynsky: it was mostly males.
Dan Ryan: Mostly it wasn't, yeah. But it wasn't all males. 90 plus. 90 plus.
Alex Lopatynsky: Yeah, I would suppose I, you know, I, I, I will say I graduated in a class. Mm-hmm. , I think we had 40 students graduating. It was a, we started 200, I think we ended up at 40, uh, after five years we maybe had 15 women.
So that's not a big number, but it was, it was a [00:45:00] pretty decent number. Mm-hmm. , I would say out of that percentage when we graduated to today, perhaps five of. Are still practicing. That's a, I mean, that's a big loss, I think. Yeah. You don't wanna lose that population. And to, to just close out the idea of not getting those diverse ideas at the table that stifles innovation.
Right. And so do, do you really wanna be in a place where you're gonna limit your ability to. Because you're not bringing diverse ideas to the table. And diverse ideas come from people who have different experiences and solve problems differently. Um, and being different doesn't mean that it's bad.
Totally. It's totally, it's just different.
Dan Ryan: Well, and that's what, that's what I was trying to say. I couldn't think of the word, but talent. That's it. Talent is uniformly distributed. Yeah. Opportunity is not correct. [00:46:00] Right? Correct. So, And it's also interesting, I just got feedback on this. I don't know, someone was looking back at all the past guests and I don't know, I forget who it was, but they were like, oh my gosh, I love that you're all of the guests that you have on, and there's so many women.
And I'm like, oh wow, I didn't even think about that. But if you're, think about it, That's pretty awesome, and that is pretty awesome. I'm just glad, I'm glad to be a part of it. , thanks for ha, thanks for inviting me along for the ride ,
Alex Lopatynsky: I should say the same to you. Thank you for inviting us. Now I, I, I would say, you know, it's interesting, um, you know, there are enough studies out there that have been done that diverse, at least in design, diverse design ideas, uh, create better solutions.
Um, so. There's data to support this. This isn't somebody sort of just saying, you know, muscling their way in. There's, there's logical, factual data that
Dan Ryan: [00:47:00] says Totally. And, and to me, I think, I think design, I think the definition should be kind of modified to be really just problem. So solving, so like exactly what we do, whether you're, yeah, whether you're designing graphics, a building.
Legislation, a paper, uh, like you're writing an essay, a book. You're really designing everything. It's, it's refinement and it's thinking. It's getting all the ideas out and then like it's solving the problem of how do you find that correct solution or the best possible solution. And I, I, I'm also surprised that this idea of design is a problem solving.
Is not taught to kids. Like you can learn fine art, you can learn how to write a paper, you can learn how to do math problems, but they're not really calling it design. It's not, and yeah. And I think that there's a way to bring that all together to, to really just be designing our lives.
Alex Lopatynsky: Yes. I mean, everything we do, we des, we [00:48:00] design it.
And it is the problem solving aspects of, it's not just architecture or, or interiors or graphics or branding. It's it, it's, you know, yeah. Cars, car design. I don't know. It's, it's everything. It's everything.
Dan Ryan: Yeah. Um, okay. So now I want, I want to go into like the little time machine question I love asking people.
Um, when did you join, when, when did you first become a girl?
Alex Lopatynsky: Oh gosh. Uh, I think I was six or seven.
Dan Ryan: Okay. So I want you to go, the, the Alex I'm talking to now go. I want you to go into the time machine back to your six or seven year old self. Yeah. And I want you to give yourself some advice. What would that be?
Alex Lopatynsky: Be more courageous.
Yeah. That, that's really it. You [00:49:00] know, don't, um, don't worry about what other people think. You know what you need to do. Go do it.
Dan Ryan: And how do you take that idea of being courageous and kind of. Teach that to others so as to shorten their journeys to being more courage. Courageous. I
Alex Lopatynsky: say it all the time, Dan, I say it all the time, every conversation I have with somebody who you know is trying to solve for something or you know, or stuck, you know, overanalyzing something, right?
And I stop them and I say, you got this. Go do it. Have the courage to do it. You may not have all the. But you can figure it out later, but be confident in what you're doing. I love it. Um, I, I, and, and it's really, I wish I had learned that a long time ago. [00:50:00]
Dan Ryan: Yeah. Yeah. It's like, uh, inertia can be the mind killer, you know,
Alex Lopatynsky: Yeah. Yeah. I, you know, and it's, I I also think that, um, I have two kids. Um, I have a daughter and a son, and I. And my daughter, I think is naturally courageous. But you know, through society and, you know, exposure, girls tend to lose that courage at a certain point in their lives. And, and you know, sometimes it comes back and sometimes it doesn't.
And I talk to my daughter about this all the time, you know, she'll overanalyze, but she has an inherent quality about courage, which. So impressed with I, I wish I had that. So, but, but still even telling her, you know, you got this, you know it, you got this. Go do it. Um, I am, I, I, I, I wish I had people telling me that when I was 25
Uh, maybe they did, but I wasn't listening.
Dan Ryan: Mm-hmm. , uh, I think we could [00:51:00] all use a little bit more courage and get out of our Cowardly Lion suits. Yeah. Yeah. I gotta rewatch the Wizard of us . Um, Alex. I've appreciated this time with you so much. Um, how can, how can people learn more about you or Cooper Carey?
What's a good way for them to make that happen? Yeah,
Alex Lopatynsky: Dan, likewise, I appreciated the time you took to, to chat with me. Uh, the best way is to visit our website, uh, ww dot Cooper Carey. Dot com and Cooper is with a C and carries with a C. Um, and you can find me on the website under leadership. Um, you could also look me up on LinkedIn.
Um, and Dan, I don't know if you're gonna be sharing any of the, of my email address or any of the information in your podcast, but,
Dan Ryan: um, no, I think I'll just leave it like that. We'll, uh, got it. Some people like their email address, but you know, I. You [00:52:00] probably get a lot, your inbox is probably not empty
Alex Lopatynsky: right now.
I I get a lot of, I get a lot of .
Dan Ryan: I get a lot of in. So We'll sa we'll save you there LinkedIn. You is the good way. Um, LinkedIn is a good way. Absolutely. So, but Alex again, and I'm gonna, I'm gonna connect you with that, uh, that woman from UK Ukraine. With Julia. Yeah, with Julia. Thank you. See and already left me.
That's alright. I'll do that right after this. But, Thank you. Thank you for your time. Thank you for your insight and thank you for your courage for being on here, .
Alex Lopatynsky: Thank you. And thank you for having courage to talk to me. .
Dan Ryan: Yes. Oh, that's, that's not a problem. I'm honored. Um, and also I just wanna thank all of our guests, cuz without or not our, I wanna thank all of our listeners.
There we go. Because again, we keep growing every single week and without. I probably wouldn't be doing this anymore because I feel like I've struck a nerve and it's just really awesome. Um, so thank you. And if this has changed your idea on how you give or receive hospitality or [00:53:00] design it, please share it.
We're all word of mouth. Um, and thank you.