Your name: John Trava
What do you do at Iconica: Structural Engineering
How long have you worked here: 2 ½ years.
What do you love about your job?
I like that it’s something different every day. For example: Drafting, calculations, inspections of foundations or roof framing, site visits, and on many kinds of projects from senior living, healthcare clinics, to aquatic center.
What led you to the design field?
I have always wanted to know how things work and have always been a builder. Being in construction and design seemed like a natural fit. I started thinking about engineering in high school. I finally decided on engineering and went to the University of Wisconsin, Platteville. I majored in civil engineering with an empasis in geotechnical engineering.
What is most exciting about your job?
To me, it’s the start of a project. It is fun to start conceptualizing and seeing how the design changes as other disciplines get involved. In the beginning, we have a schematic design. We begin to think through how the framing might be put together. Then the architect and clients get involved. We continue working through the plans and problems, and then we add in the mechanical engineering.That might sound confusing, but it works through lots of problem solving and working together as a team. You might end up with a whole different layout. It’s neat to see how it all changes, in some ways like a game of telephone.
Were you interested in design as a child?
Yes. I used to keep a sketchbook with invention ideas and designs that I wanted to build someday. I designed a hovercraft when I was 8. I made it when I was around 18. It did hover but wouldn’t hold much weight.
What are some of your favorite projects?
I enjoyed working on the Bishops Bay Country Club remodel. It was a smaller project, but was very interesting due to it being an existing building with a lot of unknowns. I got to go onsite and work with our superintendents making it much easier to problem solve with the staff. They have a much more practical outlook on the project, and I learned more about what they liked and disliked about our drawings. This led to me to adjust some of my plans to their needs.
Favorite song to sing in the car?
Anything and everything from boy bands to metal. There is quite a swing in my choices depending on my mood.
How do you work with other departments at Iconica?
When we are designing a building, it is more than just the structural components. I think of our design team as individual organs of a working body. I try to keep in my head that I only design the skeleton and need to consider the other parts. If I place a beam in the wrong location, I can cause headaches for MEP, architecture or the field, so I check what their design intent is before I move too far ahead with mine.
I’m a huge history buff, so anywhere old with a lot of museums is an ideal vacation for me.
Do you have a dream project?
One day I would like to design a unique high-rise residential building. I have been able to work on larger steel buildings but never design them from the start.
Best advice your mother or father gave you?
Don’t burn your bridges and treat people right. You can’t do everything by yourself, and nobody is going to help you if you are a jerk.
If you weren’t in the design field what would you be doing?
I would either be a musician or a politician.
What does a regular day look like for you?
Typically drafting and calculations with some meetings and site visits mixed in. I frequently meet with the architects and the MEP team.
What are some of the benefits of working at Iconica as a designer?
We are encouraged to explore unconventional ideas, and our projects are not cookie cutter. We work and participate as a team. Working here you will find out quickly that everyone has your back.
Favorite cereal? Lucky charms. There is probably a buzzfeed quiz that tells me that says something about my personality.
Are you a morning or night person? Night person
Do you have a design idol or two?
John Roebling and Washington Roebling. John for his design of the Brooklyn Bridge and Washington for his oversite of the construction of the bridge and design of the Caisson system they used for the foundations.
What is something most people don’t know about you? I tried out for American Idol back in its heyday.