Best of 2014: Melissa Fliegel

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This is the third and final post for our Best of 2014 campaign. Over the past year, Old World Stoneworks has worked with some great people and we wanted to show our appreciation. With that being said, we chose the best Architects, Designers, and Builders we’ve worked with in 2014. The following interviews will showcase some of the people we’ve worked with and how they contribute to building such beautiful homes and buildings.

In our final edition, we interviewed Melissa A. Fliegel RA, a Project Architect at Van Auken Akins Architects LLC.


What drew you to architecture?

I remember in the 3rd grade saying that I wanted to be an Architect. I don’t know if I fully knew what that meant, but I never wavered from that thought. Growing up, our family took trips around the country and I saw various forms of architecture. I was exposed to a lot of beautiful cities. I grew up in a suburb of Cleveland, and I spent a lot of time in the city, which exposed me to great architecture, fueling my continued interest in the field.

Were you inspired by any Architects growing up?

No, not really. I did not follow the work of any specific Architect. However, I remember back in college, I really enjoyed the work of Antoine Predock. His work was located in a different area of the country and was unique and different from what I was exposed to.


Do you work on commercial and residential projects? Which do you prefer?

My experience has varied over the years. My first 8 years included a lot of residential work and after that my focus expanded to a more diversified portfolio. Then it was more commercial projects with a sprinkle of residential mixed in. One or two residential jobs a year, which I enjoy. You are more intimate with the client when working on residential projects. Sometimes there is more design freedom because it’s about their own personal space, but then there is a challenge with that as well because the details are hyper focused when it’s someone’s residence. I spend a lot of time on the job site for both types of projects.

What about your commercial work of 2014?

It’s fun working commercial projects. I’m working on an addition to a private high school and it’s really exciting because it’s in the area I reside and my daughter may attend this school. Being friends with alumni and their children who currently attend the school, coupled with the possibility of my daughter possibly attending and the building is very exciting. When you complete residential projects, it’s private and you may not see the space again. There’s something about working on a project where my kids get to see it and experience it. This is a unique opportunity and to friends of mine, with their young children, drive by and talk about it is something I enjoy! Plus the kids may find it empowering that the Architect is a woman and know that girls can do things that that is another added level of accomplishment.

Do you listen to music while working?

Sometimes I listen to music. It depends on project management because I spend a lot of time on the phone. If I’m in the zone, I’ll put Snow Patrol or Arcade Fire on repeat as background music.

Do you see any design trends for 2015? What are clients asking for?

I design for the client and not for my own personal taste. At one particular residence everything was white and grey, with a random pop of color. I like more color and clean lines. I’m not sure if I completely love the white, sterile trend that is going on. Having a balance with natural materials mixed in seems more balanced to me. White and simple is an image, and it’s good but walking through a space with my kids and they ask, “Why is everything white?” (laughs) There is artwork that pops on the walls but the architecture itself is white. Part of the trends in what we’re doing at the office is reinforcing 21st Century trends whether it’s a trend for a law office, school classroom use, integrating technology in design, using a 3d printer, etc.

For the work we complete, there’s such a variety that it varies what they’re asking for and it’s our job to typically not come in with preconceived notions. I want to get to know the client and understand where they are coming from. I don’t have an ego, it’s not about me. It’s about them and helping them achieve their goals with a design.

What colors are drawing you in at the moment?

I’ve always been a fan of red. Lipstick red.

melissa fliegel interests

For 2015, do you hopefully see less white in your design?

Cleveland is a very traditional city and I think some of the new projects underway are a little more clean and modern looking. That is exciting and I still like the splash of color. But like I said, it’ll vary by client.

We would like to thank Melissa A. Fliegel for allowing us to interview her for our series! Please go visit the Van Auken Akins Architects LLC website and social networks here:

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