Boston Home Spring 2010: Following Suit

Becoming a designer takes courage, vision, and, frequently, a knowledgeable guide. Here, three mentor-mentee pairs shed light on these career-defining relationships.


MENTORS: J. Frano Violich and Sheila Kennedy, architects and principals, Kennedy & Violich Architecture, founded 1988; husband and wife.

MENTEES: Anthony Piermarini, 36, and Hansy Better, 34, architects and principals, Studio Luz, founded 2002; husband and wife.

Piermarini and Better first worked for Kennedy and Violich in 1998.

Piermarini and Better: “There’s no doubt that working with Sheila and Frano influenced us. Although their office is very professional and we rarely observed the personal side of their relationship, we did learn that it was possible to work alongside your partner in an environment that’s respectful and fun. Sheila and Frano play off each other’s unique perspectives and approaches, which ultimately makes their projects stronger. This is a quality we try to emulate.”

Violich: “Hansy and Anthony are unusual because they’re committed to making a difference outside the bounds of conventional architectural practice. They strive to make sustainable design and technology more responsive to people’s needs — and that takes extra effort. We hope that, like us, they continue to combine critical thinking with the optimism that design can change lives for the better.”

MENTOR: Len Jenshel, commercial and fine art photographer; partner, Cook/Jenshel Photography.

MENTEE: Robert Knight, 36, commercial and fine art photographer.

First introduced by New York photographer Niki Berg in 2002.

Jenshel: “Rob is one of the most intelligent, responsible, energetic, and hard-working people I’ve seen in a very long time. His work inspires me as both a photographer and a person. Like me, Rob has hunger and dedication, and strives for excellence. I admire his impeccable attention to detail—he’s always trying to push the envelope. He is not afraid of risk or failure.”

Knight: “In many ways, I have modeled my career after Len’s: We both believe deeply in the art that we produce, but recognize that we need to make a living, so we also teach and do commercial work. Photography, of course, is about making compelling images, but Len showed me how subjective the printing process could be, and thus that the photograph could be what you made it. Beyond that, Len taught me a great deal about creating meaning through the images that we make.”