Fast chat: Riverhead grad reflects on career as local architect

02/23/2016 6:00 AM |

Rob Stromski. (Credit: Nicole Smith)

For over two decades, Rob Stromski of Stromski Architecture P.C. has been building commercial and real estate buildings across the North Fork.

With the recent ability to create three-dimensional photos and through an account on the popular website Houzz.com, Mr. Stromski said he can help customers design the perfect space even more than before. A licensed architect for over 10 years, he’s sharing what got him to where he is now.

Mr. Stromski, a Riverhead resident, has worked independently at Stromski Architecture P.C. since 2010. He was previously in a partnership in Rocky Point under Searles Stromski Associates for about eight years. And before that he worked for another commercial firm, Beatty Harvey and Associates, in Riverhead.

A graduate of Roger Williams University in Rhode Island, he became licensed in 2002.

Q: Why did you decide to work independently?

A: Basically I was a partner at Searles Stromski so I’ve always had aspirations of working for myself. It was just back in 2008/2009 we had the [housing] crash. And pretty much it just wasn’t feasible to keep a partnership going with the state of the economy, so that’s why I decided to go on my own. At that point I had gotten back into the construction side of the business more, because at the time the economy was better off for doing bathroom renovations and so forth and, even though we’re architects, we also do construction management and have the ability to build. So that work was available and it was easier to conduct that as a single proprietor than in a partnership. It just wouldn’t be competitive.

stromski_1Q: Why did you decide to get into the architecture industry?

A: It was actually a mechanical drafting class at [Riverhead High School]. It was pretty much when I fell in love with drafting and decided I wanted to be a licensed architect.

Q: What is your favorite part of the job?

A: I would say the satisfaction of a completed project and a happy client.

Q: What is your customer service philosophy?

A: I guess our basic philosophy with customers is that when we’re hired as your architect, we’re not the ones necessarily that are going to use the building, live in the building. So the question is we’re really here to help you determine your likes and dislikes and create an architecture that fits your personality and your use. I never try to push my design style onto a client.

Q: How do you determine a client’s likes?

A: Generally, now, it’s a lot easier and we use the website Houzz.com.

What we do is we tell people, “Look, sit there and create a library of what you like and dislike and share us with that in Houzz.” And we’ve basically had three or four of our clients now have shared us on Houzz so that we can see their likes. What we would do before is we would tell somebody, “Take a photograph of a house that you like, cut out a picture of a magazine. I don’t care if it’s just a door, just a cabinet. Give me a slew of what you like and we will eventually see a repetition of what you like.” And then we basically determine the style that you’re looking for and then we create the architecture to blend with those likes.

stromski_2Q: What is the most challenging part of the business?

A: It’s hard to say. Certain projects are easier than others. We’ll have some projects that are very constrained by regulations, by DEC setbacks and variance setbacks, so it may be the review process that becomes challenging. We have other projects that are more challenging because we do commercial work and sometimes our clients are doing something new. For example we did the Hampton Jitney Terminal in Calverton. It’s not like you can go in and you can find a Hampton Jitney Passenger Terminal building and say, “Okay, this is what works and what doesn’t.” So with that it really wasn’t a difficulty, but through the project we evolved with our client and the plans kind of changed as the project was being built because they started to see things and come up with things that were going to work better with their business. And they couldn’t tell you that when they started the building and now as the building has gone through they decided certain things that they’d like to have, different things. We were lucky enough that when we designed the building we knew that was going to be an issue so we created a building that could kind of adapt as need be.

Q: What are you looking forward to in the future for the company?

A: Just like with any business, you look forward to growth. We have some really interesting projects on the boards this year. We’re recently working with the new company Luminati Aerospace that’s [moving] into Calverton. So we’re kind of excited to be involved in a project that may bring aviation back to [the former Northrop Grumman property]. That’s exciting. We’re getting involved in construction management again. We’re building a few projects now, so we’re excited about that portion again.

Q: Do you have a favorite project from the past that you’ve worked on?

A: Some of the projects I enjoyed were the Hudson City Savings Bank next to Best Buy [in Riverhead] because that was a project where — while I was in my partnership — I was able to decide and build it from the ground up. We did all the interior design, lighting fixture selection. We were able to really get involved in the design of that. The Hampton Jitney was a fun project because it was challenging, it was a new type of building. Then we started using some newer building products to kind of create an exterior that was different than what you see on Long Island.

stromski_3Q: What do you enjoy the most about working on the North Fork?

A: I like the commute. When I went to school I thought I was going to have to travel to Hauppauge or further west and I’m lucky enough, I guess the best part of it is, I’m lucky enough to live, work and have a family in the town I grew up in. There’s more of a comfort to being home.

Q: Is there anything else you want to add?

A: One of the things we’re excited about, I guess you could say, is the 3D modeling that we’re doing for clients. Generally, what we used to do is prepare two-dimensional drawings and we’d color render them. To do photo realistic rendering we would have to kind of go out of the office to kind of prepare these and now [we have staff to do that in-house and] it brings a little new blood and excitement.

Q: How long have you been doing 3D?

A: Within the last few months, really. It’s something we’ve always had the ability to do, it’s just now it’s become [affordable]. Generally customers wouldn’t pay for this type of service, but now the software had kind of evolved to itself where we can do this with a little bit faster abilities. So what we’re doing is we’re finding that it’s better for us to offer this in our same general package for clients.

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This story was originally published in the 2016 edition of northforker Business.

Top photo: Rob Stromski. (Credit: Nicole Smith)

Center photos: Stromski Architecture P.C. projects. (Credit: Courtesy)

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