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Meet Justin Alpert, A.I.A. of Phase Zero Design

Today we’d like to introduce you to Justin Alpert.

Justin, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I was born in Chelsea but grew up in Saugus with my parents and 3 siblings. Despite my mom being a good cook, we went out to eat more than the average family (an import factor in the path of my career). I always loved drawing and I drew a lot. Early in high school, my mother asked me if I had thought about a college major or career. She suggested architecture since I had a love for drawing and was good at math. I already knew I wanted to go to U of Miami and they had an architectural program, so that’s what I pursued.

Moving 1500 miles away at 18 made me realize how much I love Boston. The sports teams, buildings and parks, the seasons, culture, history, the accents, and the people.

Every time I came home, I would spend as much time in Boston as I could, even if it was just by myself walking the few streets I hadn’t walked yet. Even with an additional 2 years in Tampa, Florida, there was no confusion of where my home was and where I would raise my future family.

Speaking of family, it was only 6 months before I moved to Tampa that I met my wife. A year after we started dating, we took a trip to NYC, went to what was my favorite restaurant, saw Beauty and the Beast on Broadway, took a walk through Central Park and on top of the rock from Serendipity, overlooking the rink, I proposed. We’ve now been married for 13 years and we have a 6-year-old son Devin, who can frequently be seen in my Instagram being adorable.

Over the first 13 years of my career, I had worked at 4 very different companies, in 3 different states, and each specializing in different market sectors. It gave me a very broad experience base of design, architecture, and management. The last couple of those years was when I first got into restaurants.  That led me to rejoining some former coworkers now at Phase Zero Design, where I have been for five years and am an Associate. I lead the restaurant group in my office, which combines my passion for design, restaurants, and Boston/Cambridge.

I love the local restaurant industry. More than the food, the spaces, and the service, I love the people and how they support each other and give back to the community. We have something very special here and I feel very fortunate to be a part of it.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Architecture is inherently a challenging career. It starts in college. At the University of Miami, I started with over 80 others in the program and just over 20 of them graduated with me. Architecture students are known to work all night with crazy deadlines. The grind continues in the professional realm.

My professional practice professor told us that most people really don’t understand what architects do, and it’s true. There is so much more to it than just drawing pretty pictures and creating permit drawings. Working with chefs and restaurateurs, they usually have an idea in their head of the concept but may not understand the process, effort, and time to get there, in the same way that architects don’t know how to develop a menu.

So from the beginning, we help them to understand all that needs to get done, and not just regarding architecture, but all the other consultants, vendors, and contractors they will need and we take the lead on coordinating the whole project. There is a lot of effort to see a restaurant project through completion, but when we see how excited the customers, employees, owner and community are with the new restaurant, it is very rewarding.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Phase Zero Design – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I’m a restaurant architect at Phase Zero Design, an architectural and interior design firm founded in 2009. We started in the middle of the recession and have grown to over 40 employees and three offices. Phase Zero Design is diversified in several market sectors and most known for our work within the retail sector. I work closely with clients to understand their visions and needs. Throughout the process, we want the client to feel like we are not just a consultant they’ve hired, but a major part of their team.

I am most proud of the growth in the restaurant sector. As a company, we slowly started with a few multi-unit concepts and after just a couple of years, we now have a full-time Restaurant Team with a full load of both roll-out and independent restaurants for chefs and restaurateurs. What differentiates us from other architectural firms is our client-centric focus and our ability to be flexible, nimble and understanding.

Our mission statement is “We create a design experience that is about you, not us”. We make every project about executing the client’s vision and not creating a trophy for ourselves.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
My team has really been enjoying the restaurant work we’ve been doing and I’d love to continue to grow our restaurant team and our capabilities. We are looking to work on continuing to service our existing clients while expanding out to new clients. We have a good balance of roll-out brands to independent concepts and would like to continue expanding both of those divisions of our work while seeking new opportunities.

Our firm is licensed throughout the country which allows us to work with multi-unit franchises who spans across multiple states. For myself, in my ongoing goal to expand my knowledge of all things related to restaurant design, I’m looking forward to traveling to some national conferences and just read as much as I can and talk to as many people in the industry as possible that I can learn from. Then use what I learn to teach back to my client and to others through interviews, articles, blogs, panel discussions, conferences, as well as personal interactions. I have continued mission to go to all the restaurants in Boston & Cambridge so I can experience them, study them, and understand how their concepts were developed.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 35 Pond Park Road, Bay 16
    Hingham, MA 02072
  • Website: www.phasezerodesign.com
  • Phone: 781-452-7121
  • Email: jalpert@phasezerodesign.com
  • Instagram: Justin42Arch
  • Twitter: JustinA_PZD
  • Other: Linkedin: Justin42Arch

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