Please join the entire Thriven Design family in congratulating Principal Eugene “Geno” Schiavo, AIA, PP, LEED AP, on his 40th Anniversary with the firm.

“Geno, you’ve provided four decades of dedication, expertise, and inspiration,” said Thriven Design Managing Principal, Growth and Strategy, Richard Carbone. “Congratulations on this remarkable 40-year achievement. Your unwavering commitment to excellence in Asset Preservation and Sustainable Design has shaped not just our firm, but communities nationwide.”

In honor of this impressive career milestone, Thriven Design presents a special 40th Anniversary edition of the Q&A. Thank you, Geno, for sharing your thoughts and advice!


Did anything, or anyone, in particular inspire you to become an architect?


My parents inspired my career choice of architecture. My mother was the homemaker and Dad was a hard worker and known to be very handy around the house. He worked fulltime at Campbell Soup Co. for 40+ years and worked several off-hour jobs installing wallpaper and completing concrete and carpentry projects. It wasn’t unusual to find Dad completing a woodworking project in the basement workshop when coming home from work. They both provided a good/loving life for my brother and myself.

How did your journey with Thriven Design begin? How has your role changed since you first started?


Following my undergraduate studies at Catholic University, I pursued a Master’s in Architecture with a focus on Energy, Solar, and Sustainability, which led to working at The AIA Research Corporation in 1980 where I assisted in writing and providing graphics for “green” and solar guideline books and literature. Throughout this time, my passion for architecture grew and I realized it was time to pursue becoming a registered architect. This led me back to my roots of South Jersey and I began working for a small office known as Louis Heyer Goettelmann, II, AIA, in Haddonfield, NJ. Goettelmann had worked with well-known architect Malcolm Wells on earth-sheltered architecture in Camden County, NJ.

After becoming a registered architect, I moved on to a short-lived position at Toll Brothers, and later found my way to Kitchen & Associates (now known as Thriven Design), which, at the time, was located in Westmont, NJ. The solar residential projects of Ben Kitchen, the founder, attracted me to apply and interview.

My first title/position at Thriven Design in 1984 was Project Architect, which was very different than previously running Goettelmann’s office and being a Project Manager. This was during the 1980s when we were feeling the effects of the Energy Crisis of the late 1970s. My interests as a Registered Architect shifted towards the renovation/adaptive reuse/preservation of existing buildings, and one of my first open-end contracts was for USPS. I enjoyed the “hands-on” type of work, assessing existing conditions and creating construction cost estimates and documents. The type of architecture that is associated with Asset Preservation sometimes also involves correcting the mistakes of previous architects. The position and opportunity provided me a unique base of experience and knowledge to build the Asset Preservation studio at Thriven Design.


What is your favorite part about your role as a leader in our asset preservation studio?

I am a people person, which comes from my family roots. Family comes first, friendship is invaluable, and our staff keeps me going. I’ve also had the privilege of working closely with various clients, nonprofits, developers, housing authorities, and general contractors. While my work tends to not be award-winning or glitzy, it changes the lives of others and offers them a safe place to live, work, and play. This is my true passion and my favorite part about my role, it has led me to where I am today.


What are the everyday challenges you face as an architect and leader of the firm?

In leadership there are four main areas I find present the most challenges. The first is ensuring that my team has the right type of projects to work on; the second, taking the time to slow down and listen to my staff and get to know them personally; the third, ensuring our clients are served well and satisfied; and finally, the last, but by far not the least, is balancing family life, with my wife and four children, and the challenges and demands of the profession.

What advice would you give to other professionals who are just starting out their careers and to those 15+ years into their careers?


To those who are just starting out in the architectural profession and aspire to become registered as an architect – study and take the registration exam immediately after you qualify, don’t wait too long. To those who may be 15 or more years into their careers – my main piece of advice is to put your family first, life is too short not to!