Curbed Young Guns, now in its first year, aims to identify promising up-and-coming talent (35 and under) in the fields of architecture, interior design, and urban development. For the next few weeks, Curbed National will run individual stories on each Young Gun; here's a look at a member of the Class of 2013 based in New York:
Listen to Alfonso Medina talk about the fact that he employs roughly 70 people—60 at his real estate development and construction firm and 10 at his architecture firm—and it's fairly easy to forget that the guy is only 30. "I mean, I've done this since I was 21 so it's the only way I know of actually doing things," says Medina. "I know that's kind of weird."
Indeed, Medina, who was born in Longview, Texas, and grew up around San Diego, founded his development firm, Taller 38—taller means "studio" in Spanish—even before graduating from college. Its focus is largely on medium-density or high-density projects in Mexico, where his parents are originally from, and he managed to keep it running with projects while simultaneously finishing up his degree in architecture (he studied at two different schools in Mexico) and then as a grad student at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-ARC). Since receiving his master's degree in urbanism, he's returned to SCI-ARC as an assistant professor and guest critic, and just finished up a stint as a visiting professor at the École Spéciale d'Architecture in Paris. During those crazy months, Medina was forced to add the City of Light to his already-hectic travel schedule, which involves a fair amount of bouncing back and forth between his offices in NYC and Tijuana.
It was more recently, in 2011, that Medina opened T38 Studio, his full-fledged architectural practice, as a companion to the development firm. "Basically, 75 percent of the work at T38 Studio is for the real estate development," he says. "That was really a tool to be able to do architecture at another scale. At the scale that we're doing it, it would be really difficult if I were trying to find clients when I'm so young. So it's a great opportunity to be able to do both."