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Castro takes the helm at Cooper Gardner

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Jonathan Castro has taken over as principal architect at award-winning architecture and design firm, Cooper Gardner.

Mr Castro replaces John Gardner, who has retired from the firm.

The 32-year-old has ascended to the firm's top job just eight years after joining it as an architectural intern.

Since 2011, Mr Castro has gone from playing a support role, to becoming a designer, then leading his own projects, to today where he is responsible for running the office and the business side of projects in addition to leading projects from a design perspective.

“I started out on the lowest rung of the ladder,” said Mr Castro, who has been mentored by Lee Clarke, Michael Verster, the late Julia van Beelen, and Mr Gardner during his time at the firm.

“I am very thankful to have had people's support, and I continue to do so,” he said. “I have come very far in a short amount of time.”

Mr Castro, who qualified as an architect in October 2017, says he took on responsibility for certain aspects of the business over the last two years, making the transition easier once Mr Gardner retired.

“I've gone from the fun side to the management side and business side,” he said. “I am going to have to be more nimble, be a better multitasker than I have ever been before.”

Mr Castro grew up working summers with his father, Laureano, who ran Castro Contracting, concentrating mainly on residential building projects.

“I saw construction from every step of the process,” said Mr Castro, a graduate of Mount Saint Agnes Academy who earned bachelor's and master's degrees in architecture from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, completing the latter degree in 2011.

“That has given me perspective, not only in terms of design, but also critical thinking of how buildings come together.”

Going forward, Mr Castro says he will be relying on the assistance provided by members of the Cooper Gardner team, including senior architect Miglena Uzuncheva Yaneva, senior interior designer Eimeir Johnston, interior designer Shelby Rodrigues, architectural technologist Jolie Logan and office administrator JoAnn Bernard.

“We rely heavily on each other, we make sure we are covering for each other,” Mr Castro says. “As a team, as a design group, we have a wide range of experienced people. We all have our roles to play — we are all integral to the collective team.”

Mr Castro describes Cooper Gardner, which is headquartered on the third floor of 14 Par-la-Ville Road in Hamilton, as a “boutique office” but adds: “Our size hasn't diminished our desire for great design work.”

The firm works on a range of residential, commercial and hospitality industry projects, and is also involved in the Corporation of Hamilton's scheme to redevelop Albuoy's Point. Plans for that initiative are on display at City Hall.

Mr Castro says his outlook for the firm includes creating a higher profile for it, both in Bermuda and off-island, since to date much of the firm's business has been the result of word-of-mouth.

“We need to shake it up, change our profile slightly, and make people more aware that we are an option,” Mr Castro says.

He added: “In certain circles, we are well known, but in others, we are perhaps in the background a little bit. We are actively reaching out to contractors, and forming relationships.

“We are an older company, but I am treating it as if we are brand new. We are trying to bridge those relationships as quickly as we can.

“If you have a challenge with your house or your building, we can work it out and give you a fantastic design.

“We are pivoting towards a new direction and identity, which opens up our public profile more and allows us the opportunity to design some beautiful things.”

Jonathan Castro: new principal architect at Cooper Gardner (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Jonathan Castro (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published September 30, 2019 at 9:00 am (Updated September 30, 2019 at 1:07 am)

Castro takes the helm at Cooper Gardner

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