Ana Bertuna, AIA, is the Vice President of Design and Construction at Related. Bertuna began her career as an architect at Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill (SOM), eventually becoming an Associate. After 11 years at SOM, Bertuna joined Related in 2000 as the liaison between Time Warner Inc. and Columbus Center LLC for the Time Warner Center, one of New York City’s most successful mixed-use projects. Bertuna is responsible for the construction of Tower D, a 900 ft. tall, high-end residential building at Hudson Yards, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro. In this role, she coordinates consultants, construction managers, and various city agencies with an emphasis on construction logistics, procurement, budget, and schedule. She is also responsible for the design and construction of the façade of the Zaha Hadid project, 520 28th Street, a residential high rise on the High Line in New York City.
Beginnings – What attracted you to architecture and how did you begin your career? Was there an influential experience, or mentor, that helped steer you toward this field?
The person that planted the architectural seed in my life was my father. When we immigrated from Argentina to the United States, he purchased a 6-family house in Brooklyn. My father was quite a handyman, always fixing and altering spaces. I constantly followed him around and became his apprentice. He always called on me whenever a new project sprung up. He asked for my opinion, listened, and allowed me to make mistakes. Little did I know that this was his way of allowing me to design and create. My father is 85 years old and we still do projects together. My interest continued in high school after an architect spoke during assembly. I was fascinated by his presentation which included a discussion regarding salary and I remember thinking “Wow, that’s a lot of money.”
What does “architecture culture” signify to you, and how do you go about contributing to, and/or changing, this culture? What are your hopes and dreams for the future of architecture and the built environment?
Architecture culture is about quality of life. Any space or building should be designed knowing that a person’s five senses will be influenced by its design. It is important to understand and respect the architect’s design intent and weave that into the construction knowledge that I have acquired through the years. Included in this process are Related’s talented individuals that together create a successful project.
I am grateful that our culture has become more sensitive to living a healthier lifestyle and am seeing these great changes and movements influence architecture.
Advice for someone interested in entering an architecture-related field?
This is a field that you have to absolutely love. Many architects graduate with the intent of being an architect but they should know that there are many opportunities out there that involve architecture. Don’t give up until you find your niche.
Favorite site, place, building? Why does this particular location speak to you?
Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain. I visited this masterpiece a few years ago and had tears in my eyes. I am captivated by its geometrical complexities and proportions.