As one of the founding principals of Rolland, DelValle & Bradley, Inc. (RDB), Carlos DelValle is actively involved in every facet of the architectural and interior design firm’s projects. A Ponte Vedra Beach resident, he and his wife, Terry, are the parents of two adult sons.
What are your primary duties and responsibilities with Rolland, DelValle & Bradley?
I’m one of the three founding principals and owners of our 22-year-old firm. My responsibilities include architectural design, business development, company management, contract administration, overseeing construction documents production and basically anything else that needs to be done…including turning off the lights at the end of most days. I have two business partners and all three of us worked for large firms before we started our firm. None of us liked the fact that, as we moved up the corporate ladder in these large firms, we were spending less hands-on time on design, so we decided that RDB would follow a different business model. At RDB, all three principals are directly and actively involved in design and client relationships. Every associate is a self-directed, experienced professional and everyone is involved in the production of projects. For these reasons, we have fought the temptation to grow much larger, and our firm’s portfolio demonstrates that a mid-sized firm can design and deliver very large, complex, quality projects.
What prompted your interest in architecture?
As far back as I can remember, I was always sketching and building things. I grew up in a small coastal town in North Carolina and I remember as a kid going to construction job sites and asking for lumber scraps so I could build tree houses with my buddies. I also have to credit my father for giving me guidance. Dad was not an architect; he was a college professor in a totally different field. However, he had a natural, self-taught, artistic ability and he introduced me to architecture when I was very young. By the time I was in middle school, I knew this is what I wanted to do. I worked in construction every summer from the time I was 16 all the way through college, and I attribute that experience to really learning how buildings come together. My design development I attribute to my undergraduate architectural degree from N.C. State and master’s degree in architecture from Virginia Tech. Both schools have excellent architectural programs. My 14 years of work experience prior to starting RDB was also critical for my understanding of the business and marketing aspect – knowledge that no university can teach.
RDB has designed everything from corporate offices and government buildings to churches and libraries. What was the most challenging project on which you’ve worked and why?
Our firm is currently extremely busy and every project we have under design or construction is challenging, so it’s really difficult for me to pick one project over another. I’ve been really blessed to have two great business partners and to be surrounded by very talented associates. We have designed projects as far north as New York and many throughout the Southeast. Locally, some of the more recognizable projects include the 14-story EverBank Plaza High-rise on Riverside Avenue, our collaboration design for the Jacksonville Downtown Library, several exciting projects at Mayo Clinic, the eight-story Fidelity National Financial Building and approximately 15 large mid-rise corporate office buildings that house many of Jacksonville’s major local companies, such as Web.com. The beauty of my profession is that every project and building is different and each has its own unique design challenges, so the work never gets old.
Do you have an architectural project that is a personal favorite?
The thing about architecture is that it’s a lot more than simply solving a problem and designing a building. On average, most of our projects require two to three years to complete and several have required over four years. It’s a huge investment of time that requires constant input from many very talented people, so each project becomes a chapter in my life, with memories of people and experiences that stay with me for a lifetime. One of my favorite designs was the Reichhold Chemicals Research Laboratories and Corporate Headquarters facility located in the Research Triangle Park outside of Raleigh, North Carolina. It was a large project totaling approximately 360,000 square feet. One of the things I love about my job is that in order to design a building, you need to learn as much as possible about your client – their business, how they function, their vision, goals, needs, requirements…. This project brought together research scientists from four different locations and each group had completely different ideas and desires. It also brought together their corporate and research divisions…two polar-opposite cultures under one roof. This facility provided the collaborative environment they desperately needed, and the consolidation significantly increased their operational efficiency.
What brought you to the First Coast?
This is an easy answer. While my wife and I were both attending graduate school at Virginia Tech, we experienced one of its coldest-recorded winters, with wind-chill temperatures dipping down to 20 below zero. During our last semester in school, we both were offered jobs in Jacksonville. It was an easy decision! We knew very little about Jacksonville and had never even heard of Ponte Vedra Beach. Moving here 30 years ago was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. It’s been an incredible place to call home, make incredible friends and raise our two sons.
How do you enjoy spending your free time?
Pretty much any time I spend with family and friends is enjoyable. I grew up surfing, and our home is a short walk to the beach, so being able to grab my board and do impromptu surf sessions any day of the week is incredible. Moving to Ponte Vedra introduced me to golf as an adult and I enjoy it, but I must say that it definitely can be a humbling experience. My wife and I also love to travel and we’re always planning our next adventure.