An LA trio – Isabelle, Alex and Tania

18 January 2021

18th January 2021


In the latest of our Meet… series, in a slight departure from the normal, we’re meeting not one, but three of the new LA team members.

With wide and varied backgrounds in studying architecture, structural engineering and for PhDs at TU Delft in the Netherlands and University of Cambridge in the UK, the promise of more sunny climes seems to have universally attracted them to LA. But they stay for the amazing opportunities in research and development and the chance to collaborate with some of the best clients in the world.

Meet… Graduate Engineer Tania Cortes, Project Engineer Alex Falcon, and Graduate Engineer Isabelle Paparo.

Tani, Alex and Isabelle, tell us about yourselves… What’s your background? How did you come to work in LA?
Tani – I’m an engineer and technical architect, having completed my masters in TU Delft in the Netherlands. My mentor there put me in touch with Lisa and I thought the Californian weather was preferable to the rainy windy days in the Netherlands, so I moved! It’s a bonus that I’m closer to home as well. I mostly work on detailing and finding technical solutions with the Architects. I’m really passionate about Sustainability and Circularity applications in facades.

Isabelle – I am a structural engineer working for the facade team. I did my Bsc/Msc at the RWTH University in Germany before moving to do a PhD in the Glass Facade Research Group at University of Cambridge. After having spent five years in the UK I was tired of the weather, so through a mutual connection I reached out to Lisa to move to sunny California rather than London! I work on the structural side of facades, but I’m also combining this with learning more architectural skills, such as detailing and sketching.

Alex – I am a facade engineer, but after my degree in Architecture I felt I lacked the technical practical knowledge, so I enrolled in the Building Technology Master program at TU Delft in the Netherlands. My graduation research was about designing and engineering reusable concrete structures (to extend their service life and offsetting their carbon footprint) produced my means of digital fabrication (i.e. 3D concrete printing). This topic reflects my interest in engineering: applying just developed or developing technology to reinvent existing things with a problem solving focus.

In the California office I wear three hats:
1) As facade engineer I detail facade systems, analyse the building envelope by means of digital design and research new materials and systems.
2) as the internal I.T. consultant I am in charge of setting the network of the new LA office and
3) As the “Presidente Social” as Lisa calls me, I am in charge of organizing social events.

What are your hobbies?
Isabelle – I love to play sports of all kind, I can’t wait to get back to them in the post-pandemic world!

Alex – I like to read about whatever I am curious during the day. I enjoy learning about new techniques to brew beer and after my recent travel to Mexico, I want to get a flooded caves scuba diver licence.

What do you love about being an engineer in LA?
Alex – The small team, I think we are more like a small group of friends, which really facilitates the day-to-day work.

What do you most love about being an engineer?
Isabelle – I enjoy finding solutions to tricky questions and being able to use general knowledge on materials and mechanics to optimise systems.

Alex – Learning! It feels good to learn why and how building components are fabricated and installed. One might think facade systems are simple but there is a lot of science behind!

What have been the greatest challenges setting up a new office in a global pandemic?
Tani – Fitting the actual setting up of the office within our busy project schedule was really challenging and doing this when lots of things were closed was even more tricky! We become allrounders for a few weeks.

What’s your favourite thing about living in LA?
Tani – The weather, biking to the beach, and of course, the fact that you can get good Mexican food almost everywhere.

Isabelle – I LOVE the weather. Finally, no winter attire. Additionally, with the beach vicinity it’s not the worst place to be pushing through a second lock down.

Alex – Biking to the office everyday and finding good food all around the neighbourhood.

What’s the best thing about your team?
Tani – I like that we are a small team, but that everyone has a different background and that we are quite international.

Isabelle – Since it is hard to establish a social life during a pandemic, the social distancing with the general world brought us as a team much closer than under usual circumstances. I enjoy that we get along well which is beneficial for the work environment in rather stressful times.

Alex – I feel more like we are a small group of friends. This means that we can rely on each other not only on office-related things, but also on more personal aspects.