The Studio 35: The Facebook Thirteen

by Tim Alatorre

Ben Mickus, B’Arch ’02, M’Arch ’03 (UCLA), AIA, NCARB gives some insight into the New York skyline as well as what it has been like working for some of the most notable firms in the nation. Oh, and did we mention that he has his own furniture company?

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Show Notes

Site News

  • 13 New Facebook Fans!! It’s a record!
    • Steve Shimmin
    • Khoa Trang
    • David Spittler
    • Allan Timko
    • Seung Paek
    • Mark Gelvoria
    • Rikki M. Dy-Liacco
    • Alex Ceballos
    • Erika H. Mendoza
    • Gregory Benson
    • Sean Lahijani
    • Bryan Quiton Panen
    • Janice Hahn

General News

Rapid Fire Questions

  • Cal Poly or Berkeley? Poly
  • Autocad or Revit? CAD
  • Parallel bar or T-Square? Parallel bar
  • Facebook or LinkedIn? both
  • Arch Record, Arch Digest, or Architect? Architect
  • Drafting dots or tape? Dots
  • Yellow trace or white? White
  • Ad Markers or Prisma? Ad
  • Pen or Pencil? Pen
  • Mac or PC? PC
  • What’s the Meaning of Life? Construction

SCORE: 4,742,411


  • What is the story with being NCARB Certified?
    • He’s actually registered in California and New York.
    • He started licensure in CA, but was living and working in NY.
    • He got licensed in CA and thought he could just get reciprocity in NY, but found out that NY would make him do IDP, which he ended up logging all at once and got his NCARB Certification and then was able to get reciprocity in NY.
  • What has he been up to since graduation?
    • He went directly to UCLA to pursue a Masters, which coming from Cal Poly with a NAAB degree he only had to complete 1 year.
    • UCLA was very different from Cal Poly, it was a 12 month intensive program almost entirely digital and different type of design work.
  • Why did he decide to pursue a Masters?
    • After attending the Denmark program he felt like he wanted to pursue the digital world of architecture more in depth.
    • He became interested in digital architecture in Denmark and came back and decided to further his education in the subject at UCLA.
  • What was the UCLA process like compared to that of Cal Poly?
    • While at Cal Poly he felt more free to design and create, where the professors felt more like consultants.
    • At UCLA the professors were more instructional rather than advisory, there were more complex questions to answer with less freedom to explore. Almost like the professors were interns in the professors studio.
  • What was the next move after grad school?
    • He moved to New York and ended up working at Diller Scofidio Renfro for 6 years
    • He and his wife then wanted to move back to California to be near family and being from the bay area he landed a job at SOM and has been there for about a year now.
  • He’s renovating his home in Alameda…
    • 2 story Victorian built in 1900, they live in the 2nd story and the bottom level is split into two rental, which has been a whole different experience of architecture working on his own home.
  • Comments on Cal Poly grads out in the industry
    • The grads that he keeps in touch with seem to be doing well. They seem to gravitate to leadership roles in the firms they work in and become great assets to their firms.
  • Is there something you wish you had done or known when you were still at Cal Poly?
    • No, he just really enjoyed his time there!
  • What kind of advice can you give to current Cal Poly students?
    • Never be afraid to cold call. While it’s important to have a network and connections, but there’s nothing wrong with just cold calling and trying!!
    • Keep asking question in design, keep challenging yourself there’s always room to learn and improve.
  • Ben has also started his own furniture company.

About the Author

Tim Alatorre