Starts With A Need
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Why The Acorn?
There’s No Such Thing As An Acorn Tree.
All oaks have acorns.
One huge oak can drop up to 10,000 acorns in a mast (boom) year.
Acorns are the nuts of an oak tree. There are about 600 species of oak trees worldwide, and about 90 species in North America. After falling from the tree in autumn, each acorn can produce a new oak sapling the next spring. Most acorns don’t become trees as they are a source of food for wildlife, including birds, mice, badgers, and squirrels. It takes hundreds of years for an oak tree to mature.
Raw acorns contain tannins, which can be toxic to humans and cause a bitter taste. They are also poisonous to horses, cattle, and dogs. After leeching, acorns can be used for making flour, pancakes, pastries, cookies, and even pasta. They can also be roasted for a savory snack or even ground into a naturally caffeine-free coffee.
Oak wood is durable, tough, and attractive, often used in shipbuilding, flooring, furniture, railroad ties, barrel making, tool handle, and veneer.
Northern Arizona has eight species of oak. The Gambel oak found at higher elevations is “winter deciduous,” which means it sheds leaves in the fall. Other native oaks live in lower elevations and are “drought-deciduous,” which makes them conserve resources in dry seasons and reinitiate growth when there’s rainfall.
Resources: “Backyard Gardner,” Jeff Schalau, February 19, 2020: https://cals.arizona.edu/yavapai/anr/hort/byg/archive/ournativeoaks2020.html; Wikipedia, and KidzSearch encyclopedia for kids.
Meet The Emc2 Team
AIA, REFP, LEED AP
Richard grew up in the construction business and enjoys how architecture gives him a creative outlet. A Texas A&M Aggie, he has practiced architecture since 1985 across many project types, from planning to design to construction. He’s a problem-solver who enjoys tackling complex requirements and is often found at construction job sites working out constructability issues with contractors and clients. Richard is the President of the firm.
Richard’s quiet demeanor hides a wicked and dry sense of humor.
When he’s not at work, he moonlights as a mechanic, landscaper, pool cleaner, and dog walker. And not surprisingly, his favorite building in Arizona is the house he designed for his family… duh! He enjoys riding dirt bikes, reading, watching Coyotes hockey, and golfing. That last hobby is questionable and just might be evidence of arid humor.
Scott is a calm and steady architect, as comfortable with planning and preparing documents as much as construction. You can count on Scott’s attention to detail and listening skills. As they say, “still waters run deep,” and Scott has probably figured out how challenges could be overcome while others are still gathering data. He became an architect because he loves to draw and be in and around construction, a perfect match – Scott says, “the best part is seeing the physical completion of something that was in your head.” There’s a lot of passion behind his quiet demeanor. Scott has been in the architecture business since 1984 and is a Senior Vice President with the firm.
He enjoys tinkering with dirt bikes and trucks with his sons and then enjoys when his whole family goes camping and riding. Thank goodness his wife is a registered nurse. A die-hard Denver Broncos fan, he dreams of owning a 1969 Camaro someday. With a personal motto of “JUST DO IT,” no doubt he will eventually own one. The simple massing and powerful yet elegant and amazing details of the Mesa Arizona Tempe, completed in 1927, makes this building his favorite.
Dominic is an Arizona native and a bit of a rebel. He says he was advised against becoming an architect by his father (also an architect), so he chose the rebellious path, well, just because. His rebel nature is also evident in a Sun Devil bachelor’s architectural degree and a Wildcat master’s. Maybe unconventional is a good way to describe Dominic, who has been in the industry since 1992 and has experience in education, office buildings, industrial, retail, hospitality, and residential projects. He is a Vice President of the firm.
When Dominic is not working, he enjoys sporting events and live music, as well as fishing and boating, driving Arizona’s backroads, and cooking (and eating) all types of food. He supports all Arizona sports teams but has a special place in his heart for the Suns because they’re about his same age. It was impossible to get a solid answer from him when asking about his favorite building in the state. He appreciates the design of iconic historical buildings like San Xavier, Tovrea Castle, Arcosanti, and Taliesin, as much as modern buildings like ASU’s Biodesign Institute as well as the School of Construction, and the UA College of Medicine. . . see, it’s tough to get a firm answer out of a rebel.
From the time he was a young child, Todd was into art, drawing, and painting; architecture was a career choice where he could use his creativity every day. He has been in the architecture profession since 1994, and his project experience includes education, commercial, and municipal projects. Todd has been a part of the EMC2 family for more than 20 years and is a Vice President with the firm.
Todd admires and appreciates the design of the Phoenix Central Library because the natural lighting element coordinates with the building geometry on the summer solstice. His hobbies include playing guitar and fly fishing. Todd also enjoys hiking, biking, and camping with his family.
DBIA, LEED AP
Dave is a 45-year construction industry veteran who has experienced firsthand just about every condition (good and bad) that can come up during design or construction. Having been on the contractor’s side, he learned the right blend of quality, integrity, and hard work make projects successful. “When the owner, architect, and contractor work well together, it’s a well-oiled machine”, he says. Dave is the Director of Business Development and Operations with the firm.
When the workday is done, he enjoys taking his wife to dinner and spending time with their kids and grandkids. Getting outdoors is a common hobby theme, especially camping at the Dunes. Other favorites include Mexican food, Arizona Cardinals football, and NASCAR. His favorite Arizona building is State Farm Stadium (where the Cardinals play), and he is amazed at the ingenuity it took to design and construct such a stadium. Dave is guided by strong leadership principles, and his favorite quote is “In search of perfection you just might catch excellence along your way,” by Vince Lombardi.
RA, LEED, AP, BD+C
Patrick started in the architecture industry in 1986, and has deep experience in education, and municipal projects. He also finds time to teach architecture and construction related college classes, and he understands the importance of facility design on curriculum delivery. Patrick also experiences first-hand the improved learning and teaching experiences when buildings are energy efficient and incorporate sustainable building practices. Patrick followed in his father’s footsteps to become an architect. He prefers looking at nature over cities; so it’s not surprising, he likes Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West and Paolo Soleri’s Arcosanti because they are inspired by the natural world surrounding them. Patrick is a Project Manager with the firm.
In his off-work time, he enjoys bicycling, hiking, camping, and roller-skating — or at least finds pleasure thinking about them. He’s a musician and has written songs since he was a teenager. As a “semi-creative and engineering type,” his latest musical interest has expanded to electronic music and synthesizers. (Catch that “engineering type?”) As a vegetarian, he prefers Asian food; he enjoys driving his Subaru Forrester, and hopes it’s the last fossil fuel vehicle he owns.
Jesus “Chuy” Ortega
Chuy has a broad background in design and construction, which includes new commercial buildings, tenant improvements, and remodels. Chuy discovered architecture in high school and has been working in the industry for more than 20 years. He’s experienced in project management and construction administration, as well as Building Information Modeling (BIM), scheduling, and budget control. He has a certificate of architectural and civil engineering in CAD technology from the University of Advanced Computer Technology.
His favorite local building is the Porter Brothers Construction offices, which is a concrete building with exposed structural steel elements. In his spare time, Chuy serves as a youth football, baseball, basketball, and wrestling coach. He also enjoys camping and doing lake activities with his family.
Charles hails from Indiana and continues to be an Indianapolis Pacers and Colts fan, even after more than 10 years in Arizona. He’s a forward-thinking professional and brings solid experience in the design and construction of education, retail, multi-family, museum, and healthcare projects. He appreciates the mix of science and art in architecture and has specific expertise in Revit and AutoCAD, as well as skills in drawing, model-making, and drafting. His favorite quote is “My interest is in the future because I am going to spend the rest of my life there,” by Charles Kettering. Charlies is a Project Manager with the firm.
Charles is an outdoor enthusiast, and enjoys hiking and exploring Arizona parks on weekend road trips. Not surprisingly, his favorite Arizona building is the Grand Canyon Lodge on the north rim, where sitting on the deck and watching clouds go by or the sun setting is the perfect ending to a long day of hiking. He might also be reading an adventure/thriller/Star Wars book on that deck. He likes trying new foods – as long as he doesn’t have to clean up afterward.
Janet has always been interested in design and working on computers, so the architecture field suits her perfectly. She has been in the industry since 1994 and has specific expertise in AutoCAD, Revit, Photoshop, and all Microsoft Office products. She appreciates the aesthetics of Taliesin West. “Everywhere you look there is something beautiful to enjoy; its peaceful nature makes me smile and brings me joy.” Janet is an Assistant Project Manager and has been developing EMC2 drawings from conceptual design through construction documents for more than 15 years.
When she’s not at work, Janet can be found adventuring with her husband, and traveling whenever she can, visiting friends and family. She also enjoys spending time at her cabin, walking in the woods, watching movies, and cooking. Working at EMC2, she feels privileged to be part of a team that creates an inviting space for all who enter it.
Eric excels and brings special expertise in Revit, AutoCAD, and Photoshop, as well as skills in drawing, model-making, and drafting. His project experience is diverse and includes education, commercial, religious, industrial, and municipal facilities. Eric has worked in the architecture profession since 1998, and enjoys the breadth of design and construction, saying “I feel a great sense of accomplishment seeing the building and site when it’s complete.” He is an Assistant Project Manager with the firm.
The Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona is his favorite Arizona buildings because it’s a peaceful place and the views are amazing. The chapel itself stands out and is nestled between red rock mounds with a full height cross and glass as the front elevation. When he’s not working, Eric can be found hiking, golfing, camping, ATVing, and working on house projects. Eric’s other interests carry a Chicago vibe . . . his favorite football team is the Bears, and favorite food is—you guessed it, Chicago deep-dish pizza
Megan Van Horn
Megan is an intern currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree at ASU, followed by a master’s in architecture. She didn’t know what her major would be when she was a freshman, and chose architecture because it seemed creative and analytical. “I kept going with it because I really love the creativity of design and how many different things you can do with it!” Her favorite Arizona building really isn’t a building, she says. “It’s Air Apparent” by James Turrell on the ASU campus. It’s kind of an open-air pavilion with seating that frames the sky, it’s very relaxing and fun.”
When she’s not at work or in school, she can be found at the gym or a church event. She loves to cook and bake, and tries to cook most meals from home. “It’s fun to do but I also love getting to share the food with people at the end!”
You’ll rarely see Lance in the EMC2 office, as his role is delivering construction administration services in the field. He likes to see things that he has drawn be built and come to fruition. His favorite Arizona building is the Lodge on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. He can’t quite figure out why, but weekends are spent on an ever-expanding “Honey-Do-List.” His favorite quote is “Those who RESPECT others, are those others RESPECT!” Lance is a man of few words.
Gina has been with EMC2 since 1994, and her beautiful smile is the first you encounter when you walk through our door, and her cheerful voice is the one you hear when calling our office. She is our Office Manager and keeps us all on our toes!
Her favorite Arizona building is the Boys and Girls Club Building on West 6th Avenue in Mesa. She has fond memories of her sons playing basketball there; the building was in disrepair with old, wooden bleachers, and no central heating in the gym, but the staff dealt with the facility to make sure the children had fun and felt welcomed. Even under the horrible conditions, she remembers seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces when they played — as if they were playing in a real arena.
When Gina’s not at work, she’s spoiling her grandchildren, planning the next adventure with her husband, or relaxing with a fishing pole in her hand, or putting cookies in the oven. Gina is an avid sports enthusiast and loves college basketball, professional football, and major league baseball. Her favorite motivational quote? It’s a toss-up between “If you pray, why worry. If you worry, why pray?”, “Stand Strong,” and “A Bible with its pages falling apart belongs to a person whose life isn’t.”
Sam has been in the design and construction industry since 2007, and as a construction administrator, he is responsible for making sure that design intent is carried out in the field. Since he was a teenager, he’s had an interest in the industry, and enjoys contributing to the success of projects. One of his favorite buildings in Arizona is Talking Stick Resort Casino. While he’s not much of a gambler, Sam enjoys the creative and modern spaces of the restaurants, bars, outdoor/pool areas and how they blend with the casino floor.
When he’s not out at a jobsite, he can be found playing racquetball, hiking, travelling, dining out, and listening to music. His favorite food is anything from the sea, and one of his favorite movies is The Matrix.
Courtney is embarking on her career in architecture and is an intern at EMC2. She has a certificate for computer-aided drafting (CAD) from Mesa Community College and is currently attending Arizona State University, working toward a bachelor’s degree in interior design.
Courtney’s favorite building is the Mission San Xavier del Bac in Tucson; she loves the intricate details and historic Spanish architecture. Courtney has always been a fan of the arts. She draws, paints, sculpts, throws pottery, and enjoys music as well. Her favorite food is spaghetti, and in her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, especially her adorable nephew.
When Jason’s high school mechanical drafting class competitions didn’t seem as interesting as the auditoriums and coliseum designs the architectural teams were submitting, he developed a laser focus on preparing for his college education in architecture. He politely declined other career opportunities, as he only had eyes for architecture.
Jason started in the design and construction industry in 2001 and has never looked back. His career has provided many types of experience, including high-end residential, large medical tenant improvements, medium-sized commercial structures such as dental offices, and multi-story tenant improvement projects. He has also worked on large historical renovation and rehabilitation projects. Before joining EMC2 as a Project Manager, he owned his own multi-person design firm.
He and his wife Kathy love to travel and enjoy archetypes and historical spots. His favorite Arizona structure is Montezuma Castle, built high up into the side of a mountain wall. He appreciates how the design provided an excellent way to stay out of the elements, as well as providing safety from whatever was below. He still enjoys sculpting and making models. His hobby of 3D printing has taken many turns; he now owns seven printers of different types and teaches “Additive Manufacturing” at a local college at night. “I love to see the students get so excited (like I still do) realizing that it is now in their reach to make their own virtual ideas into actual usable pieces.”
Lara has been in the design and construction industry since 2001. She joined EMC2 as a Marketing Coordinator and transitioned to Controller with the firm because she enjoys the routine part of the position as well as contributing to each one of the firm’s projects. She has a background in education and enjoys staying involved with Arizona’s education through our clients and projects. Her favorite Arizona structure is the Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona’s red rock country.
When not at work, she can be found behind the wheel of her family’s van, chauffeuring children to sports practices and games. Laura also enjoys walking her dog and having dinner and book discussions with friends. Her current favorite sports team is whichever team her kids are on; her daughter plays lacrosse, and her son plays basketball and football.
Mark is inspired by maintainable and functional designs that incorporate off-grid sustainable strategies. He has a bachelor’s in design studies and a master’s of architecture from Arizona State University and has experience in computer modeling and other software programs as a teaching assistant. He has served in many volunteer capacities in local churches and college organizations.
He enjoys going on outdoor adventures with family members and friends, and cooking and gaming are his preferred hobbies when he’s not at work. Japanese and Chinese food are his favorites. Mark’s impressed with the Health Science Medical building at the downtown Phoenix University of Arizona campus. He appreciates the design and how the materials control the sun and excess heat as well as mimic the desert landscape.
The design and construction industry found Lori, like most marketing professionals. She has been in the industry for more than two decades and has honed her attention-to-detail and marketing skills for pursuit-winning success. With experience in architecture, engineering, and construction, she brings strategy insights for all kinds of teaming and alternative project delivery opportunities. She is the firm’s Sr. Marketing Manager.
In her spare time, Lori enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband and two daughters, exploring trails in Arizona and Colorado, or relaxing in the swimming pool. A transplant from the Land of 10,000 Lakes and the mountains of Colorado, she says “the sounds and smells of lakes and mountains energize my soul.” She loves discovering and cooking new recipes, and some of her favorite motivational quotes are, “A negative mind will never give you a positive life,” “Do more things that make you forget to check your phone,” and “Your beliefs don’t make you a better person – your behavior does.”
Derron has been in the design and construction industry since 1991 and has a strong network across many market sectors and municipalities in Arizona. His industry expertise includes being a consultant, subcontractor, general contractor, and now on the architecture side with EMC2. Derron is the Business Development Manager with the firm. He uncovers all kinds of opportunities and enjoys working with clients. Great memories from Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium on the ASU campus in Tempe make it his favorite Arizona building.
He and his wife enjoy spending time with their children and grandchildren; attending soccer games and dance recitals keeps them busy. An Arizona native, Derron is a local sports enthusiast and follows the Diamondbacks, Suns, and Cardinals. His favorite book is Free to Choose, by Milton Friedman, and his favorite motivational quote is Booker T. Washington’s “Character, not circumstances, makes the man.”