AIWA-SF Thrive: Kevin Markarian

THRIVE is an AIWA-SF April project dedicated to highlighting Armenians who are doing amazing things in their personal and professional lives to better themselves and those around them. These individuals are inspiring, dynamic, innovative and interesting. Today, we feature Kevin Markarian.

Kevin is a registered Architect in California, a member of the San Francisco Chapter of KevinM_2841_190402the American Institute of Architects, and holds a Bachelor of Arts and Masters of Architecture from The University of California at Berkeley. The focus of his works come from his fascination with the larger urban context, as well as a diverse set of social challenges related to designing housing and increasing density in cities. High density and transit-oriented areas were key features that attracted him to study and later practice architecture in the San Francisco Bay Area. As a Principal at PYATOK architecture + urban design, he leads teams in the design of large, complex affordable and market-rate multifamily residential buildings. While most of his work is situated in Northern California, he has designed buildings in San Diego, Los Angeles, and Seattle. 

Architecture is an optimistic profession in that it encourages him to look at the built environment and then imagine new possibilities, equipped with little more than a blank piece of paper and a pencil, before the hard work of construction begins. He enjoys his part in being the spark that gets things moving, whether designing a piece of furniture or contributing to a master plan that reimagines part of a city.

Question: What is your life philosophy? 

My philosophy is to observe the past while influencing others to embrace change and growth. In addition, my early education and professional experience taught me that Architecture can be bigger than the historical practice of designing for wealthy patrons, but also can be used as a powerful tool, in service of my community by helping create affordable housing.

Question: What is your favorite thing about being Armenian? 

My favorite thing about being Armenian is that I can find other Armenians almost anywhere in the world and feel welcomed. Furthermore, Armenian culture influenced me in so many ways. After enduring the Genocide, my Grandfather, Elia Kahvedjian was inspired to become a photographer. He captured the beauty in the everyday photographing the daily lives for the diverse patchwork that is Jerusalem, and that urban density bringing all walks of life together. His work taught me that every image can tell a story, which I think of in my drawings of buildings before they are constructed. Also, hearing his story, as well as others growing up was a stark reminder of how good life is for us, and to help those in need. Finally, I thought of the following while watching an episode of the PBS show “No Passports Required”, which was covering the Armenian community in the Los Angeles area: when the host asked a guest to describe Armenians in one word, he said, ‘survivors;’ which can sound gloomy, but when thought of positively, also describes those who have sparked something new.


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