The global climate crisis has reshaped contemporary architecture. Sustainability has become a central guiding force in design, and in turn, architects are rethinking how to build today. For Viswhesh Panchal, addressing the climate crisis begins with a process-oriented practice.
Having previously held positions at well-known architecture firms like Lord, Aeck, Sargent, Perkins+Will, and now at Arcadis, Panchal has developed an approach to architectural design that embodies a values-based perspective that addresses one of the most pressing issues of our time. The result is elegant, impactful, and sustainable architecture brought to life with poise and finesse.
Panchal’s career has focused not only on the construction of new energy-efficient structures but also on the redesign of the existing building stock to create climate-resilient and spatially beautiful environments. His outstanding portfolio speaks for itself. Vishwesh has shared his early inspirations, the mission he pursues, and what it takes to become a successful architect today:
MG: When did you decide that being an architect was your calling?
Vishwesh: My mom, an artist deeply connected to aesthetics, introduced me to creativity from an early age. Watching her transform a blank canvas into a masterpiece sparked my appreciation for the intersection of art and life. My father, a skilled builder, instilled in me the values of precision and functionality. Exploring the architectural wonders of my hometown, Vadodara, India, further revealed the transformative power of architecture. These experiences laid the foundation for my future in the field.
MG: Have there been any people or experiences that have shaped your unique artistic perspective?
Vishwesh: An encounter with architect Balkrishna Doshi at his Sangath studio in Ahmadabad, India, left an indelible mark on me. Navigating its awe-inspiring spaces revealed the fusion of form and function. Doshi’s insights reignited my purpose. I channel my passion through sketching, capturing the essence of places. Studying architecture in the U.S., especially under Professor Henry Sorenson at Montana State University, further shaped my artistic perspective and skills.
MG: Is there a mission or a special message you’re eager to share through your work?
Vishwesh: Absolutely. My career is fueled by a deep sense of purpose—to contribute positively to the built environment. I communicate the importance of thoughtful, sustainable design that enhances occupants’ lives and engages with the surrounding context. Promoting a holistic approach, considering environmental impact, community well-being, and aesthetic excellence, is at the core. Each project carries a message, emphasizing spaces that inspire, uplift, and resonate with the human experience.
MG: Looking back, what’s been a standout moment in your career?
Vishwesh: Working for internationally recognized architecture firms like Lord,Aeck,Sargent, and Perkins+Will on top projects stands out. Contributing to iconic designs, such as the ones for the historic San Felipe De Austin Visitor Center or the preservation of the Travis County Probate Courthouse in Austin, Texas, and witnessing the successful completion of these projects has been immensely gratifying. Other developments, like the Highlands High School in the San Antonio ISD and the McNeil High School in the Round Rock ISD, have also been highlights of my career. The sense of accomplishment when architecture positively impacts people’s lives, whether through a landmark building or a community space, is a source of great pride and joy.
MG: Are there any current projects you are excited about?
Vishwesh: Being part of the high-rise residential towers for the CPC Kingsway project in Burnaby, B.C., Canada, is truly exhilarating. Contributing to internationally significant projects, thanks to the global presence of Arcadis, the company I now work for, provides unique experiences. Currently, I am also focused on the construction documents of The Hills residential building in Austin, Texas, which will soon enter the site administration phase. The diverse challenges and the prospect of contributing globally while also making a local impact make projects like these truly rewarding.
MG: As a seasoned architect, what is the biggest career challenge you had to deal with?
Vishwesh: Securing my architecture license was challenging, particularly balancing a full-time job with the demanding Architect Registration Examination (ARE) exams as an immigrant. The dedication I demonstrated, coupled with the support of my spouse, played a crucial role. A strong support system is significant in navigating such challenges. My unwavering belief in becoming an architect and the positive mindset I cultivated, combined with hard work, propelled me to success. My journey is a testament to determination, belief, and a supportive network in realizing professional aspirations.
MG: What sage advice would you offer aspiring individuals venturing into your field?
Vishwesh: Drawing inspiration from your surroundings and hobbies is key, just as letting your personal interests guide innovative design solutions. Build strong professional relationships—collaboration is inherent in architecture—while learning effective communication skills with clients, colleagues, and stakeholders. Finding a mentor is also invaluable for guidance and personal growth, as learning from someone who has navigated the challenges of the field is instrumental in achieving success in architecture.
Vishwesh Panchal (b. 1992, India) is a licensed Architect, a LEED Accredited Professional, and a Member of the American Institute of Architects. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Design from Montana State University and graduated with a Master’s Degree in Architecture, specializing in Sustainable Urban Systems, from the University of Houston. Panchal’s career embodies a commitment to sustainable design and architecture. Currently based in Austin, Texas, he has worked on a wide range of projects, many of which have received honors and awards for their innovation and commitment to sustainability. From the preservation of historical sites such as the Travis County Probate Courthouse to the expansion of educational institutions like the McNeil High School – Round Rock ISD, he has contributed to creating environmentally responsible and resilient built environments. Panchal has experience with globally recognized architectural firms, including Lord,Aeck,Sargent, as well as Perkins+Will. Now, he works as a Project Architect at Arcadis, developing international high-rise residential plans, like the CPC Kingsway South Phase, while actively collaborating in the planning and coordinating projects for the Association for Learning Environments.
Interviewer: Martha Gutierrez