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Home | AUSTIN | Spotlight | Spotlight - Antonio Giovanni Naylor, President, Reliance Architecture

Spotlight - Antonio Giovanni Naylor, President, Reliance Architecture


Where were you born? AUSTIN - Where were you born? I was born in Frankfurt, Germany. My dad was in the service and he immediately made sure I was a US citizen so there wouldn’t be any issues. From what I understand, you can get dual citizenship if you are born in Germany with military parents, but the way my dad did it, that ruled that out for me.



How did you feel about that?
    I actually didn’t have a problem with it.  From moving around, I knew some other people who had to declare their citizenship once they turned 18 years old.  But, I didn’t have to do that. 

How long did you live in Germany?
    We lived there twice.  I lived there my first three years of life.  Then we left and came back.  The second time there, we were there until I started second grade.

Can you speak German?
    I haven’t spoke German in a very long time.  Now I’m 49 years old.  If you don’t use it, you lose it.

What was it like for you when you came back to U.S.?
    It was quite an adjustment because of the way they did education.  Over there, it moved a little quicker.  We did a lot of field trips and when I got here, they did not do that so it was a bit of a cultural shock for me.
    Also, in Germany, we had not done times tables (multiplication tables), so the kids were kind of mean because I didn’t know my times tables.  My mother sat me down over a weekend, I learned my times table, and when I went back to school that next Monday, I knew my times tables and suddenly they were like, this guy is smart.

Where did you live after coming back to the States?  Did you move around?
    We moved to Killeen because my mother wanted us to have more stability while my dad finished his army career until he retired.

Where did you go to school?
    I went to Killeen High School.  I’m a Kangaroo.   A lot of people shy from it, but I am pretty proud of it.  I thought it was unique.   Most schools are lions, tigers, and bears [oh my].  From there, I went to Texas A & M. 

How did you end up in Austin?
    When I graduated from A & M, I asked my parents for one gift.  That gift was to let me come home, decompress and then I would go out and find a job.  They allowed me to do that. 
    This was right after the savings and loans crisis, and what I didn’t know is that a lot of architects and engineers had gotten to the point where they had to shut down their businesses or it got down to just the principals of the firm and they weren’t paying themselves so they couldn’t afford to hire anyone.

How did you know you wanted to go into architecture?
    It was something I always wanted to do.  I would draw anything I saw.  One of the things my parents always talked about, was when we flew over New York going to Germany, I sketched what I saw, perspective wise and everything. From that point on, they recognized that and helped to nurture it.  I was always drawing and sketching things.  And I wouldn’t just sketch, I would try to invent too. I would experiments and sketch up different solutions with dimensions and stuff. 

What is your degree?
    I hold a Bachelor of Environmental Design degree in the School of Architecture at Texas A & M.  I’m a proud Aggie and the traditions there have grown dearer to me over the years.

How long did it take you to find your first job?
    It took about a year.  I realized I couldn’t just sit around and not make any money.  I knew I could draw house plans because you don’t need a license to do house plans and I started a design and marketing company, Gio Designs.  I actually got work doing menus, logos and house plans.
    I finally got a call to come down to Austin and interview with a company, but I had already planned a trip to go see a friend.  They told me that the job might not be available if I did not come, immediately, which created a dilemma.  I went with my gut.  I thought if it were really meant to be, the job would be there when I got back. When I came back I gave them a call, went on the interview, they made me an offer right on the spot and I got the job.

How long was it before you started Reliance Architecture?
    I just started Reliance in June of this year, 2017.  The soft opening was at the end of March, but the official opening was in June.  I worked for my previous firm (Fromberg Associates) for 19 years.  I’ve been doing architecture for 25 years.

What made you decide to go into business for yourself?
    The firm I was working for was coming to a crossroad because the owner was thinking of retiring.  We started talking about doing a transition and began putting transition plans together, but as we started doing that, we started realizing the economics of it and it favored us going out on our own. 

Was it a long process?
    It was about three years in the making before breaking away.  I actually partnered with a guy from the firm named Clifton Stuckey.  We worked together for six years and had always talked about how we could better serve our clients. 
    Stuckey and I learned that we had a wealth of knowledge that needed to be captured and focused on our clients.  Our clients wanted a well-managed project that didn’t interrupt their business and provided value to their stakeholders.  We decided we needed to take that knowledge and streamline the process to ensure that our clients are taken care of efficiently.

Is there anything you did personally to help you serve your clients better?
    Yes.  I realized that my educational clients had a unique set of issue that I was not privy to when interviewing them for a project.  I entered an advanced certification program in the Educational Leadership program at San Diego State University in partnership with Association for Learning Environments.  I learned about how my clients went about their business of educating minds and partnering with their communities.  I am proud of what I learned in attaining the distinction of Accredited Learning Environment Professional (ALEP).

Tell me about Reliance Architecture.

    Reliance Architecture is reflective of our desire to be dependable and trustworthy in our service.  Our projects cover a wide variety of size and types of projects from educational to public facilities, with about 40 clients, including working with many clients repeatedly on several projects.

Are your parents excited that you started your own firm?

    My mother was very supportive after I came home from college, but she passed away shortly after that.  My dad passed away in 2015, but before that he was also supportive.  He was always asking, “What do you need so you can get your license.  I really think you can start your own business.”  Neither of them got to see me do this.  But I know their spirit and feel their continued support.

What do you do when you are not working?

    I tried for a long time to do water color.  What I like about watercolor is, it is not a media that you can control.  You have to work with it and that’s the reason I was tried it, but I just never seem to have the time.  But I still continue to sketch.
    I like to go fishing.  I love it.  I have a kayak that I bought and take down to the coast.  I go out in the bay and fish.  Even if I don’t catch anything, being on that kayak out in the water is just a great thing.  And the fishing part of it is very simple.  I try to figure out where that fish is to put
it on that hook.
    Reliance Architecture is a full service Architecture and planning firm, focused on educational and public architecture. –cmw

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Carol Wiatrek meditor@constructionnews.net