This article draws a direct line between how childhood interests can become adult pursuits using Allegra Kochman’s stories.

Allegra Kochman has been passionate about architecture since she was six. In 2006, she founded an architectural firm specializing in residential gut renovations, emphasizing maximizing Light-Views-Space (LVS). She and her staff are passionate about sharing their delight with clients. And our clients share their delight with us.

A Child’s Delight

I loved visiting friends’ homes for playdates to see how they lived. I played “Tell Me What to Draw” with my grandmother. I loved rearranging my bedroom, and my mother attempted to stop or slow me down when she added that I draw plans for her approval. It was fun!

I picked up perspective drawing when I was quite young, thanks to my older sister.   Later, during an eighth-grade trip to England, I experimented with architectural photography. In high school and at a Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) summer program, I took architecture classes and loved them.

The common thread to all these activities is that I delighted in them; they were utterly absorbing, and no one discouraged me. A family friend named my passion “architecture. The word became candy, totally addictive.

Life is Learning

Prior to specializing in architecture, I pursued a broad range of interests at Dartmouth College, including education, earth sciences, math, philosophy, physics, French, and Italian, while actively participating in extracurricular activities such as maintaining the Appalachian Trail, experiences that influence my work.

Seizing Opportunities

After a cabin maintained by the Dartmouth Outing Club (DOC) on the Appalachian Trail burned down, I applied my classroom skills to create a presentation for a new student-built cabin on Mt. Moosilauke, considering interior views, approach angles, and optimizing sleeping space. My design was chosen by my peers for construction.

Cover of a Blue pamphlet in English and Spanish “Inside /Descubriendo TIL” with drawings of people working to repair their building and smiling from their windows.

Professional Experience

After receiving my college degree, I went to graduate school for architecture at Columbia University and received my license in New York State in 2000. I took time off to learn more about the construction industry as part of my education.

I worked for a Construction Management firm that converted city-owned Rentals into Tenant-owned coops as part of the NYC Tenant Interim Lease Program (TIL). This work taught me what a contractor’s and a landlord’s priorities are, and stimulated my academics. 

I won two awards upon graduation, and since graduation from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, I have been working in NYC, building up to employment at progressively larger firms, culminating in a senior designer position at SOM in the airport group.

Rendering of an airport terminal from in sepia tones with the area of expansion in yellow.

JFK International Air Terminal Expansion Project

At each stage of my career, I asked myself what I really wanted and pursued that next step without judgment. I approached each job and each project with the curiosity and enthusiasm of my childhood.

Learning from Experience

I was laid off a few months after September 11 and worked part-time for three years at an Architectural Lighting firm while beginning my dream of having an architecture firm. My firm focuses on creating architecture that creates delight for our clients. I use the lessons I learned along the way.

Four people - the AKA team - casually dressed in front of the curving red building

An interior space under construction with exposed metal studs, pipes, and electrical wires.

A healthy work environment and transparency are essential for excellence. We delight our clients by applying these attributes to our process and optimizing for Light-Views-Space. My curiosity and joy are a throughline of 15 years of successful NYC renovation experience to create both a process and spaces that delight.

Colored wheel of arrows pointing clockwise with the following words: Thank you, Here’s what I heard, Here's what I propose, How does that sound? Let’s refine it together, Thank you (and the cycle starts again)

Moving Forward

At AKA, we draw on curiosity and joy. We share tools and tips that deliver delight and give you insights about Light-Views-Space in our articles and our work with clients. We speak and write in plain English. Each article lives at the intersection of gut renovation and the essence of life.

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Allegra Kochman, Architect

Allegra Kochman, Architect

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About Us:

At AKA, we specialize in transforming homes to increase light views and experience; we focus on our clients’ delight!

Image Sources:
All photos © Allegra Kochman
Photos may be used only with attribution.

In this blog, we share tools and tips that deliver delight and give you insights about Light-Views-Space.

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Allegra Kochman

Allegra Kochman

About the Author

Allegra has a BA with Honors from Dartmouth College and a Master of Architecture from Columbia University. She aims to write straightforward and practical content for those who want to gut renovate their homes.