Q+A with Steve Szerlag, Lead Senior Project Architect (Dearborn)
How do you describe your job to people outside of the industry?
That’s easy – I say that I’m an architect. Then the conversation becomes a bit more complicated when they ask me what I’ve designed. I tell them that I don’t design a lot but I do I figure out ways to make owners and designers get the best possible design by proper detailing and code analysis. After that, I look into their glazed eyes and say, “I lead a great team of architects on EV battery plants.” Then they immediately get it.
Why did you decide to become an architect?
I took a drafting class in high school where one of the assignments was the “toothpick bridge” challenge. To design, document, and construct something I created was very compelling, and I was hooked.
How would you describe life at Ghafari?
It’s a perfect fit for me. Everyone is team oriented, talented, and always willing to collaborate and learn from each other.
What is the most exciting thing that has happened during your time here?
Without a doubt, meeting my wife! After that, I’d say it’s exciting to manage projects related to electric vehicles. My Master of Architecture area of focus at University of Michigan was sustainability. During one course, I designed a “town of the future” that envisioned a condensed city that relied on EVs for local travel. Much of what I do now is bringing this to life.
What is a key idea or lesson you have learned while working at Ghafari?
It’s extremely rewarding to be the lead architect for complicated buildings and learn how innovative ideas can improve quality of life and user experience. However, the bigger lesson is that none of this is possible without a dedicated team of architects and engineers that works together toward a common goal.
How do you like to spend your free time?
Golf! Whether it’s playing with my family or managing my golf league, I love being on the course. I am also a bit of a plant whisperer and keep honing my bonsai skills. And it goes without saying that catching Michigan football games and long weekends up north to relax are necessities.