Luis Tochiki (left) with contractor. They are completing a project in Charlotte. (Courtesy of Neighboring Concepts)

Latino architect helps remodel 2012 Democratic National Convention venues

For architect Luis Tochiki, it is a proud moment to be part of the forthcoming success of the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

“As an immigrant, it is a fitting moment as the Latino population grows in numbers to let others know that our presence can be counted and are fully engaged to offer our contributions at all levels,” says Tochiki, partner at the firm Neighboring Concepts.

Tochiki is among a group of architects in charge of leading the design and space planning efforts at North Carolina’s Time Warner Cable Arena, where the September 3-6 event will take place.

At a time when there was an economic crisis in Perú, and terrorism attacks where at an all time high, Tochiki and his wife knew they needed a better place to raise their then-8-month-old baby.  North Carolina was their next stop.  When he arrived in the U.S. in 1983, Tochiki didn’t speak a word of English.

After many years of working his way up in the architecture field and learning English, he became a partner at Neighboring Concepts in 2003.

“We feel privileged to be part of a project that, although temporary in nature, will forever be remembered as one of the most important events held in Charlotte’s history,” adds Tochiki.

Their involvement includes using their space-planning expertise, building systems, and building code knowledge to facilitate all behind-the-scenes supporting functions required for this convention to run successfully. Especially because they are using a facility designed to hold a different function.

The Democratic National Convention Committee awarded contracts to a partnership of firms that included locally based firms, firms with strong ties to North Carolina and the Charlotte community, and firms with a solid reputation of working with women, minority, and disability-owned and union labor.

When the DNC was awarded to Charlotte, the architectural firm Populous began looking for an architectural firm in Charlotte to be their local design partners. Neighboring Concepts was recommended to them as good candidates for the joint venture.

Neighboring Concepts, which consists of twelve members, hopes to prove small companies can accomplish big projects by overcoming lack of production capacity with their talent and ability.

In addition to the TWCA project, Neighboring Concepts will also be working on the space planning for the 70,000-seat Bank of America Stadium where President Obama will give his speech accepting the Democratic nomination on the night of September 6.

Tochiki urges striving individuals in the architecture field about the need to inspire one another “not only as architects, but as true contributors and shapers of the new U.S.A.”

“Young Latino architects should see themselves as agents of change capable and responsible for healthier communities,” says Tochiki to aspiring architects.

For Tochiki, having a hand in the remodeling of the 2012 Democratic National Convention is part of his American dream.

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