A Conversation with Our New Associates

Kuth Ranieri Architects has promoted architects Rob Marcalow and Juno Song to associates. Rob is the firm’s East Coast studio director for the Boston regional office. Since joining in 2018, he’s worked on everything from a daycare center to San Francisco International Airport. Juno came to Kuth Ranieri in 2015 and has had a hand in a number of the firm’s projects at San Francisco International Airport (SFO), ranging from the new Harvey Milk Terminal 1 to the “Big Room” co-location office for the entire Terminal 1 team. 

Last year Rob relocated to the Boston area to open our east coast office. He is working on a new harbormaster building for the town of Eastham, the Franklin Food Pantry, and several residential projects. Juno is working on a new private residence in Napa Valley and completing several projects at SFO’s Harvey Milk Terminal 1 Center and the International Terminal Building. We interviewed them to find out a little more about their passions and interests.

Q: What are you looking forward to in 2021?

Rob Marcalow: That’s easy: my first child is due in late January!

Juno Song: Getting married! Unfortunately, Covid has been a slight hindrance to our planning, and it doesn’t help that we currently live overseas from each other, but alas we are pushing for a March wedding date in South Korea. It will be nice to have someone to shelter-in-home with. 

Q: Who are your architectural heroes?

Juno: It changes so often whenever I see a building I fall in love with, but if I had to pick a few architectural heroes that I always reference, Louis Kahn and Alvaro Siza come to mind. Their work just seems so pure and honest, but it brings so much delight to the senses. 

Rob: I love the work of the Rural Studio at Auburn University; it’s scrappy, beautiful, and important. I’m also a big fan of Pier Luigi Nervi’s modular concrete domes as a wildly elegant response to resource scarcity. And, of course, Carlo Scarpa’s detailing….

Q: What iconic building do you wish you’d designed?

Rob: The Bruder Klaus Field Chapel by Peter Zumthor. It’s a building that is defined by a process in a truly unique way. I don’t know any other building quite like it. 

Juno: The Kimbell Art Museum. I visited on a cloudy day, and the constant changing of light in those spaces was amazing. 

Q: Where do you turn to for inspiration?

Juno: Everything, but I tend to feed off people. It’s been a bit challenging during the pandemic, and I am sure I’m not the only one getting tired of countless Zoom meetings. 

Rob: Books, the internet, my brilliant wife Cristina. Sleep: a few times a year I dream about a solution to a design problem and have to jump out of bed and run to a notebook to jot it down before I forget. 

Q: Favorite distracting activity you’ve picked up during the pandemic?

Rob: I picked up mountain biking again this year as a safe way to get exercise. I’m also teaching myself to weld.

Juno: Visiting my fiancé in South Korea. The firm has graciously allowed me to work overseas for small stretches, and after quarantining for a period, I get to enjoy time with her and extended family. Access to amazing Korean food is a bonus! 

Q: If you didn’t design buildings, what kind of thing would you love to design?

Juno: Delicious food. I still fantasize about owning a small restaurant. Buildings can take years to complete, but food you can design and construct in hours, see the customer’s immediate reaction, and then start again to improve on it. Granted, I’m sure it’s not that easy, but that’s why it is a fantasy. 

Rob: In college, I once started an accessories business. I made satchel bags, outdoors gear, specialized rock climbing bags, and the like on a crappy sewing machine in my dorm room and sold them on campus. I was terrible at sewing and probably lost money, but it was very fun to design things in fabric. It’s the ultimate flat-pack challenge to imagine a 3D object made from a soft, flat material. I would love to get back into that one day.

Q: How does your design sensibility manifest in your life outside the firm?

Rob: We started a home renovation project in November 2019 that was interrupted by the pandemic, so I have spent most of my weekends since March designing and building my own living quarters. I am also working (slowly) on the layout of a rock climbing guidebook to an obscure, remote cliff in Southern Utah with some friends. 

Juno: I’ve caught myself analyzing even the simplest built conditions when recently abroad. I tend to question why something was designed or built in such a way and wait for my loving fiancé to give me an explanation. She has lately taken to ignoring my questions more and more….


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