We often hear that what sets apart CIC from its competitors is the wonderful people that work here. In our latest staff spotlight, we chat with Sidi, Director of Architecture and Design. Sidi has designed a number of CIC Innovation Campuses around the world, including two in Japan. Currently, he is working on a new design for a campus in Mexico.
Where are you based?
We are a two-person team of architects based in our native country, Cabo Verde, an archipelago of islands off the west coast of Africa, near Senegal and Morocco.
How did you hear about/come to work for CIC?
I had a tech startup called ParallelCities back in 2011. I came to the Venture Café [Kendall] to do a demo of the prototype and really enjoyed what Venture Café was doing so I started volunteering for the organization. So I was CIC before starting to work for CIC. Eventually, I met CIC’s CEO, Tim Rowe, in a meeting we had with all the other volunteers of Venture Café to brainstorm ideas for how to make the space better. Having done my architectural thesis work at Harvard on how to design spaces that help people interact, socialize and collaborate better, I had so much to share! I ended up sharing a number of ideas on how to make the café a better social space with Tim. A little while after that I got an email from him saying that he loved my ideas, and invited me for a breakfast meeting. He said that the goals of my thesis lined up perfectly with the goals of the CIC, so he invited me to join CIC, and design the upcoming Venture Cafe space and future CIC centers. The rest is history – I have been here ever since.
You’ve had different roles at CIC. How did you go from joining as an operations manager to the director of design?
The main goal when I joined CIC was for me to start CIC’s design department, since before I arrived the design of CIC spaces was done by outside architecture firms. To design better CIC spaces I had to understand how it worked from the inside. So, as I was designing my first CIC project – the first stand alone Venture Cafe space, and the C3 space (the coworking offering at CIC) – I also became C3’s Curator, and grew the community to 4 times its original size (to over 400 people), and ran its operations. Once we finished design and construction of the new C3 space, and installed the community in its new home, I moved to Design exclusively.
So, what does your day-to-day look like?
Like many roles at CIC, there is no common “day” for me – I work in a variety of projects, all of them of different sizes, and at different stages of the design and construction process, so my days can be pretty hectic. I could start in the morning making concept sketches for a new CIC location; transition to a construction meeting about a project that is under construction; then move on to answering RFIs (Request for Information) from a contractor for another project that is being bid; then having a meeting about what components we should have in a project we are about to start designing; and finish up the day answering to the 1001 emails that have been piling up in the meanwhile.
How do you think design at CIC sets itself apart from other collaborative workspaces?
My expertise and research on social space design brings a different dimension to the design of our spaces, which goes beyond the surface level “interior design” some of the other workspaces can excel at. We have also learned greatly from having been designing and operating our spaces for nearly two decades. There is a lot that goes into the design of our spaces that might go by unnoticed. We will need to do another blog post for us to talk about some of these principles we use, and that really makes our spaces prime collaboration spaces, while being still very productive and functional spaces.
Do you have a CIC space that you would call your favorite?
The Venture Cafe and C3 space in our Cambridge location is definitely my favorite. It was my “first born!” – the first project that I designed from head to toe that got built, so it will always hold a special place in my heart 🙂
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I just learned how to skydive this past weekend! You can see my first completely solo skydive here. What a RUSH! I am also an avid biker; love looking at and making art; writing; can watch movies for days; and love cooking!
What’s your favorite food?
“Catxupa guisado ku longuisa i ovo streladu” – a traditional Cabo Verdean dish made of corn, beans, meats, veggies, and different types of sausages – YUM!
If you’re interested in working with Sidi (and the rest of us) – the only way to get his catxupa recipe – check out our job listings page here.