Design Architect


Ghafari Associates, LLC / Grand Rapids, Michigan USA


Ghafari was founded on the belief that new technology should be harnessed to foster the success of our clients.

For nearly 40 years, our forward-thinking team has pursued this belief - uncovering latent needs within each project and collaboratively solving the toughest challenges across architecture, engineering, process design, consulting, and construction. Our pioneering work and high-touch service has been recognized by many publications and organizations, from the American Institute of Architects and Construction Users Roundtable to Engineering News-Record and Fiatech. Though we specialize in technically intensive and complex projects, our goal is simple: help businesses and people thrive.


General Summary

The Design Architect is a skilled listener and interprets and translates the needs and desires of a client into user experience and/or built environment. While responsible for leadership in discovery, feasibility and conceptualization, the Design Architect also guides the development and documentation of a project. The design architect offers new thinking, inspiration and motivation to internal teams and client groups alike.

Key Responsibilities

  • Inspires and leads others in project team setting while under the guidance of the Director of Design and Principal in Charge
  • Conceptualize a building design from both a functional and aesthetic perspective in concert with a client's requirements, budget and program
  • Development of a design through sketches, physical models, electronic models, diagrams, massing studies, and other visual formats to express the design intent and communicate to project team, client, and building user groups
  • Demonstrates advanced understanding and application of design practices, theories, and methods.
  • Understands and responds to the technical implications of design decisions
  • Facilitates goals for excellence in design, execution, and sustainability
  • May participate in marketing presentations and client meetings
  • Coordinates contractors, consultants and vendor assignments
  • May organize, direct and mentor junior staff
  • Utilize BIM technologies in development of three dimensional models of building and their components
  • Lead design pin-ups
  • Understands complex facility program compilation, analysis and implementation
  • Develop space planning, block planning, and adjacency diagrams in coordination with building program
  • Presenting the building design to stakeholders (client groups and project teams) during early project phases
  • Interpret and apply building codes and requirements of regulatory agencies in development of the building design
  • Evaluate and select building systems and materials
  • Coordinate building systems (structural, mechanical, electrical, etc.) to ensure compatibility with the design intent
  • Implement sustainable design principles into the building design and surrounding environment
  • Analyze site incorporating geotechnical, hydrological, environmental, social and economic conditions.
  • Develop building design in accordance with cost parameters
  • Ensure that design intent is maintained through documentation and construction
  • Present the building design to stakeholders (client groups and project teams)


Experience, Capabilities and Credentials

  • 7-10 years of design experience required
  • Architectural licensure must be in-progress or in-hand; ability to meet NCARB requirements for licensure in other states required
  • LEED Green Associate Accreditation or LEED AP preferred
  • Architectural design experience in educational, commercial, multi-family residential, hospitality, institutional and workplace markets is preferred but not required
  • Ability to hand sketch and communicate concepts and ideas to clients effectively
  • Ability to apply accessibility codes, applicable building codes, and life-safety codes to the design of a wide variety of project scopes and complexity
  • General knowledge of building construction systems, constructability, materials, and industry associated standards
  • Ability to check work of others for accuracy and completeness and manage team to meet project budget and schedule
  • Ability to interpret sketches, drawings, codes, building program and other similar material
  • Ability to clearly present abstract ideas to the client and client representative
  • Ability to engage in new thinking and critical thought

Education and Software Experience

  • Degree in support of an Architectural license required (accredited Master's degree or 5 year Bachelor's degree)
  • Experience with modeling/drafting software (Autodesk Revit, AutoCAD)
  • Strong experience with design software (Sketch-up, Creative Cloud, Rhino, etc.) required


Kristin Garstka