Richard “Nick” Arcuri, Jr., Assoc. AIA

Nick earned his bachelor’s degree in general studies in 2010 from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette with a focus on arts and humanities, taking as many furniture making and design classes he could. While building custom cabinets and staircases, he was recruited back to his alma mater for his M.Arch and graduated in 2016. During graduate school he interned at Fluidity Design Consultants in Los Angeles working in concept design. He spent his final semester interning at Architects and Builders in Lafayette, La. Since graduation, Nick has worked at MBSB Group Architects in Lafayette on projects ranging from local schools to the regional airport. He is currently finishing serving his second year as the Associate Member for the AIA Louisiana State Board and in the same position at AIA South Louisiana Chapter in Lafayette.

Why did you choose architecture as a profession?
I was fortunate to grow up in a creative and tactile household. My mom is a retired art teacher and my father is a retired architect and project manager for the state of Florida. We always had projects and art supplies around the house growing up. Whether it was building model cars, painting or throwing pottery to Jimmy Buffet on the back porch, my creativity and craft were heavily nurtured growing up. I initially wanted to go to art school and focus on visual arts, but growing up in a middle-class family, practicality was valued. Architecture is a great bridge between creativity and practicality.

Do you have a special routine/habit you may do to get creative juices flowing?
I don’t think I’m very special in the fact that I start with coffee. I still like to hand sketch out ideas, most often starting with indiscernible doodles, which often lead to indiscernible drawings, if I’m being honest… I like to look at precedents and spend a lot of time thinking about what the solution to the problem may be in my head before working things out on paper. Jim Garland at Fluidity said to me once that he “feels like a blind man in an empty room full of ideas; you have to keep poking around till you find one.” It is something that stuck with me: sometimes you just have to keep poking around until you find the right idea for the moment.

Best project, most unique/favorite project?
The most unique project that I have been a part of would definitely be a pavilion we built in graduate school. It is a grid shell made from a skin of linear oak members that crisscross each other to form what looks like an inflated net supported upward from a foundation. It was a great team effort that spanned multiple classes of students. I was fortunate enough to be in the first class where we took our classes’ design proposals and worked them through parametric modeling software to create construction drawings. We started construction on the project, which was subsequently completed by the next group of students. It was really rewarding to not only use parametric modeling to create drawings for an atypical structure but also to be a part of actually building it.

What do you do after a hard day at work to unwind?
I tend to try different hobbies and enjoy them for a while, but they don’t all stick. One enduring thing that I really enjoy doing is cooking with my wife, Elizabeth. We typically cook 3 to 4 nights a week and it’s such a great way to spend time together. Our two small dogs, Layla and Toby, play cleanup crew, vacuuming up crumbs anytime they are in earshot of an “Oops.” We enjoy trying all different types of dishes from different cultures. We enjoy traveling and trying different restaurants wherever we are.

If you could have any other job what would it be?
I wouldn’t mind spending my time building custom small wooden watercraft. I have built 1.5 canoes and am hooked. Working with wood either in furniture building, boat building or even around the house on renovation work is extremely fulfilling to me.

If you could have dinner with anyone dead or alive, who would it be and why?
I’m sure I’m not alone in saying Anthony Bourdain. His unrelenting curiosity of his surroundings and his unfiltered observations set him apart for me. The way he was really focused on understanding what was to be gained from every experience with others is a lesson that I think we can all learn from, especially in architecture. His show was one that really affected me because he opened the world up in an accessible and unpretentious way. He made me want to be adventurous and to seek out the roads less traveled.

What other leadership roles do you hold in the community and/or what volunteer efforts do you support?
I recently rolled off of the board for Festival International de Louisiane. It is the largest international music and arts festival in the United States, and it’s right here in Lafayette. I worked as the volunteer center chair for four years and have been working as one of the area managers for the last four years. I enjoy volunteering at our local Downtown Alive series serving in the beer booths.