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Engineer of the Moment: Rick Naumann

This month's "Engineer of the Moment" is Rick Naumann! A native of Rochester, NY, Rick joined LERA as a Design Engineer in 2011 and was promoted to Associate in 2016. Based in LERA's New York office, Rick is one of our most traveled engineers. In 2016, he relocated to LERA's office in Shanghai, China for six months, contributing to several projects in Asia and helping to open LERA's new Hong Kong office. He returned in 2018 for a four-month spell to help with a new office development project.

What was it like living and working in China? "Very different," he says. "In general, they have a more fast-paced, dynamic approach to design than what I had experience up to that point." An avid traveler, Rick also visited Japan and Indonesia during his stay, with Tokyo a particular highlight. In fact, that was part of what attracted him to LERA in the first place. "To me, what's great about LERA is that it is small enough that you can learn from the firm leadership and develop personal relationships with senior personnel, but large enough that you get to work on high profile international projects. The opportunity to travel abroad was very rewarding." He also earned his master's degree in Switzerland, which taught him early on how to work with a team of diverse people from varying cultural backgrounds.

Growing up, Rick was drawn to architecture, and appreciates that as a structural engineer he has a hand in creating tangible structures that make a lasting contribution to society. He's managed and worked on a wide variety of projects so far in his career, from smaller scale retail and K-12 renovation projects, to new state-of-the-art and award-winning academic and healthcare facilities, to large scale residential and mixed-use developments at home and abroad.

Some of his personal professional highlights include serving as the Project Manager for the new Nordstrom flagship store near Columbus Circle in Manhattan (designed by Architecture Operations DPC), which will span four buildings and include a wavy glass façade facing West 57th Street. With seven floors of retail space and a central atrium that maintains the “landmark façade” of what was once 1780 Broadway, the renovation project has taught him a lot about the history of New York architecture, including the different materials and structural systems that were used in the past and how to adapt them to modern uses. "Renovation work brings lots of surprises," says Rick. "It's really different to new construction, but in many ways just as exciting." Another big design challenge he helped to accomplish was a geometrically complex roof for a single-family home (designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro) that was intended to mimic the form and appearance of a sand dune. The free-form structural Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic (FRP) and self-supporting roof, featuring up to 40-ft cantilevers, is composed of composite material sandwiched around a foam core. BIM was utilized heavily throughout the design process. Rick is also the Project Manager for the nearly complete 4-story, 56,600-sf addition to Public School 144 in Queens, NY (designed by Urbahn Architects), which is the first project that he's managed for its full life cycle.

Outside the office, Rick is an active member of the Structural Engineers Association of New York (SEAoNY) and the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) Young Persons Committee. He regularly attends industry events. In his spare time, he likes to unwind by cooking and listening to jazz and classical music.

Rick earned a B.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Buffalo, and a M.S. in Structural Engineering from The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) in Lausanne, Switzerland.

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