Richard Mulá Jr.: 'Design is more than buildings'Principal and managing member, Richard F. Mulá Architects LLC
Richard Mulá Jr., 52, founded Richard F. Mulá Architects in 1999 and continues as its principal and managing member.
Before founding his own firm, he worked for a variety of architectural companies including H2L2 Architects and Planners. He also serves as an adjunct instructor at Stevens College of Technology and Bradley Academy for the Visual Arts.
Mulá earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Drexel University, and is a licensed architect in Pennsylvania and six other states. He is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, a member of the American Institute of Architects and LEED and health care certified.
He lives in Lancaster.
Q: What is the biggest change you’ve seen in the 20 years since you founded your firm?
A: Technology and speed to market have proven to be the greatest combination. It’s changed how we work and think about design, and transcends everything we do, from the design process to project delivery and into the construction process. Today, through multiple software programs plus computer modeling and various rendering software, we can creatively engage our clients more effectively, in real time, and seamlessly throughout the design process, so our clients can respond with immediate feedback, which is tremendous, because that is what brings projects to the market faster.
How do you empower your clients to realize their vision, as your company profile says?
We believe design is more than buildings. We believe design is one of our strongest resources towards creating effective solutions to today’s challenges. We engage in design as a strategic process, in unison with our clients’ vision. When we interact with our clients, it’s about the realization of how their goals can be accomplished or their challenges overcome, or sometimes it’s just looking at space that’s personal to them and reflects how they want to express themselves. In a large part, it’s just being a good listener and then being able to navigate a strategic path alongside our clients to ensure they’re participants in their design process.
A lot of people ask, how do you measure success in design. Hitting the mark means designing not just for visual impact, but also for health, or comfort, flexibility, ease of use. So we work collaboratively and strategically to deliver innovative ideas.
What is your favorite or most meaningful project over the last 20 years?
Each project in its own way is meaningful but what makes it meaningful is the clients we serve and our team partners, our consultants, our contractor partners, etc. For us, what is meaningful is crushing an impossible project schedule so a client can occupy a space in time, because their previous lease is running out. Sometimes it might not be a design but knowing we helped a client exceed their goals. Another example is solving a complex design problem for a client who’s struggling with how much space they have and criteria they have to meet. Sometimes it’s a simple sketch that captures a client’s vision that they never thought of before.
What was your favorite childhood toy?
One of my fondest earliest memories was the excitement of getting one of those big cardboard boxes. I can remember cutting it up or drawing on it or trying to make it into whatever I could imagine. It was a great rainy-day kind of event. It didn’t last long, but you got another cardboard box and had another adventure.