John started at Domokur Architects (when it was Peterson/Raeder Architects) in 1982 and served as partner from 1989-2005 (under the name Domokur Robinson Edwards). He worked closely with clients, determined their needs and turned those needs into timeless designs. His hand-drawn renderings were captivating. He educated, instructed and mentored many of our younger staff. With over 40 years of experience (35 with our office), he understood the profession, our practice and how we chose to work with clients. We wish him the best and will miss him dearly.
What do you remember most about your early years?
Following graduation, I headed south to get away from our Ohio weather and found a job with a moderate sized office in Orlando. It was a unique experience in that I was the only non-registered graduate in an office of six who were very welcoming and mentored me from day one. They were an enjoyable irreverent group who made everything fun. The projects were grand as Orlando was a fast-growing destination for many. Their work was focused on higher education and commercial structures, but the good times soon came to an end as I needed to return to Ohio to fulfill my military obligation with the Reserves.
Employment at that time was frustrated while I waited to undergo basic training. Jude and I began a life together the following summer that has now spanned 47 years and I relocated to Akron to continue my pursuit of an architectural position. After several interviews, I began working for a small firm in Medina where I was mentored by one of the most fascinating gentleman I have had the pleasure of encountering in my career. He drilled me with old school drafting techniques and building detailing that became invaluable as the years passed. As luck would have it, I was soon called for basic training and upon my return I again found myself unemployed and my mentor retired.
Following a very brief period as a construction laborer, I landed a job with one of the two other offices in town that lasted for nearly twelve years. That was a time of home remodeling, starting and raising a family, and involvement in several local public projects and commercial buildings. These projects brought me in contact with several engineers and client representatives that would thread through my career for several decades.
What are some of the major changes you’ve witnessed during your career?
The most dramatic change I encountered has been that of available technology. To be educated in a ‘Rapid-O-Graph’ on board and pencil on vellum era, where specifications were typed on an IBM ‘Selectric’ typewriter, and end your career with CAD, virtual reality, and laser printers, has been breathtaking. That doesn’t even include Ozalid printing, pin bars, vacuum tables, and the fax machines that literally came and went during that time.
What do you enjoy most about being an architect?
The things that I have enjoyed the most about my career has been the challenge of developing a pleasing and efficient solution to a client’s building program and perhaps taking them in a direction that they had not even considered. The second, and probably the greatest, has been the people that I have come in contact with and have learned so much from: the clients, the client representatives, the consultants, the contractors, the tradesmen, and especially the staff that I have had the great pleasure of working with each and every day. Many have become like family sharing many good times and some rough ones.
Do you have a favorite or memorable building project?
My most memorable project goes back to when I joined the firm. After nearly twelve years I realized that my job in Medina was less than the fulfilling position I had hoped for and answered an ad posted by Peterson/Raeder. I was offered a position with the firm and found myself sharing a two-position drafting station with Mike Domokur, which was the beginning of a long friendship and eventually a business relationship. I was aware that they had hired me with a potential project in the works, but certainly was not aware of the magnitude of this work or the responsibility that I would be faced with on the Ohio Bell Akron Data Center. This was literally like being dropped into the deep end of the pool compared to my previous experience. It was my great fortune to have been handed the preliminary project work assembled by Pete Domokur (Mike Domokur’s father) and the consultant team chosen by the Affiliated Architects (a joint venture of P/R and T/C Architects) and Ohio Bell represented by Ray Graham and his project team. This was also to be my first major encounter with the mechanical genius of Gary Starr, the pragmatic efficiency of structural systems from John Ohlin and Roger Higgins, and the desire for system perfection from Jim Peters and John McDonough. I remained with that project through construction and can proudly say that through the work of our team and many outstanding contractors, this building came on line without a problem despite its complexity.
Can you offer any advice to young architects?
To young Architects: Enjoy what you do and push to do those things that you do enjoy. Secondly, learn from everything that you do, both good and bad. There will always be some very tough lessons along the way and those around you can help from their own experience.
What can we find you doing while enjoying retirement?
I’ll be doing a lot of catching up on all those things around the house that have been on hold for far too long. We plan to see our kids and grandchildren as often as time, money, and our health will allow. In the meantime, when the weather is at its northeast Ohio worst, I have a stack of reading waiting.