An Interview With Dean Dalvit, AIA, PE

by evstudio on June 25, 2009




Dean and family on Peak 9, Breckenridge

Dean and family on Peak 9, Breckenridge


Well, it may be easier to answer what I don’t do at EVstudio :). Seriously though, as a founding principal, and growing the firm from my sole proprietorship in the basement of my home to a three office full service A/E firm with a strong and growing team of professionals, I have done (and still do) just about every job from the ground up.

These days, my time is split between running the business and designing projects.  Business activities involve tasks like marketing and accounting to managing other staff and making sure every aspect of our tight quality control measures are met. The design work that I do includes programming, schematic design, engineering, plans checking and follow up on projects under construction. It makes for a long workday that often stretches in the early (and sometimes not so early) hours of the morning, but it is highly satisfying work that I do and that keeps me motivated. I have my father and my uncle to thank for my over-the-top work ethic. I don’t stop until the job is done and I am never idle.


I have been very fortunate that my career has taken me through every facet of design and construction that you can imagine. I have worked with some great mentors that have shown me what works (and some who have illustrated what doesn’t work so well… ).

My educational background started at the Engineering school at CU. I graduated with degrees in Mechanical Engineering with an emphasis in structure as well as Applied Mathematics. Not because I’m a glutton for punishment, but rather because my grandmother always told me to take as much math as I could in school…so I did. During school, I split my internships between the University, working in the research lab, and Kiewit Western Construction Company, doing everything from construction cost estimating to field surveying as well as a few project engineer roles on smaller projects.

After graduation, I moved to Summit County and worked for a PLS doing mostly surveying work as well as some land planning, site planning, topographic studies and other related tasks. When I was up there, I worked with a lot of architects and only then did I realize that architecture was my true passion. My next job was for a licensed architect at a small design/build firm, and thus I began my official architecture internship. For 7 years, I worked as an intern and studied architecture. I also had the opportunity to act as project manager on several custom home projects, a multifamily development, and some commercial work. During this time, I really honed my design and documentation skills as I was building off of my own sets of plans. I also gained valuable knowledge about labor and materials costs as well as what is really practical to ask of a subcontractor and what details to avoid.

During this time, I also had the opportunity to develop a speculative residential single family home in Breckenridge, as well as a number of other projects for myself and my family, taking on yet another role as owner. This certainly provides yet another insight into the total needs of a project. After completing my internship and passing all 9 of the ARE exams, I set out on my own and established the first building block to EVstudio. That sole proprietorship was called Eagle View Architecture and I worked for a year before I realized I either needed more hours in a day, or I needed to grow the firm. That is when EVstudio was born. I brought Sean in as a partner and we shortened the name to EV and the rest is history…so to speak.


Because I am a principal, and up until the launch of our engineering department, I played a role on nearly every project that has come through the office. We started off doing mostly residential work when we were smaller, but have since grown and while commercial and residential projects seem to run in cycles, there seems to be a much better balance now among the project types.

People like to ask me if I am a commercial or a residential architect. As I see it, I don’t differentiate between the two. I’m interested in buildings and the nature of how the built environment affects people and their quality of life, regardless of the purpose of the building. Also, the constant challenge of variety excites me. I love that I can lay out a floor plan for a retail furniture store in the morning, in the afternoon run a code analysis for an office building, then at night, calculate the loads on a truss in a single family home. I truly feel that as a result, each project receives the benefit of the gathered collective knowledge of all of the other project types that we do. The last thing that I would want to do is the same thing over and over again. That would be stagnant and unfulfilling, not to mention only serve to compromise the projects by reducing them to assembly line production.


I can honestly say that the most satisfying recognition I can get is a happy client. I have countless project binders sitting on my shelf above my desk and looking at each one of them sparks a happy memory of working with the client during design, seeing them on the jobsite during construction and seeing the joy in their faces, or hearing from them after the project is complete and finding out how successful their project was.

As a young and growing firm, it is important to get accolades from the various trade organizations, magazines, etc., and we are constantly striving to fill the conference room with those kinds of awards (with some success, I might add). We post those awards all over our blog and website, so I won’t take space mentioning them here. There is, however, one award I received that I am particularly proud of, and that is the Mentor of the Year award given at the 2008 YAAG event. My staff had nominated me without my knowledge and had written such wonderful things about my training efforts and all of the things we do here at EVstudio to broaden the knowledge and experience of our staff. I am very grateful to have the privilege to work with such a great team.


When is that exactly? Actually, while I do put in the long hours, I am a big proponent of working hard and playing harder. Fortunately, when you’re an architect, you can multitask! Wherever I go, I study the built environment around me, whether I am walking through the Vail village on my way to the slopes or if I am on stage at the Little Bear playing guitar. My interests range from skiing, biking, hiking and rock climbing, and camping to playing music, and enjoying the arts. I share these passions, along with my passion for architecture with my two children (9 and 11 years old as of this interview), and my wife (in our 14th year of marriage). Most of my spare time is spent with my family doing the things we love to do and I can’t imagine anything better than that.


The only thing that I would like to add is my basic driving principle: Always be positive. Life is way too short for this not to be a boatload of fun and while sometimes things don’t always go as you would like them to, be patient and see how it turns out before jumping to conclusions and expecting the worst. You might be surprised.


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