As do so many in the New York area, I came here from someplace else: in my case, Bucharest, Romania. Long before the Communists came to power, my great grandfather, who owned vineyards in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, built a
, which he donated to his natal city of Focsani. He brought craftsman and artists from all over Europe to work on the structure, determined to make sure that it was not only beautiful but that its acoustics would be the best in that part of the world. It is from him that I developed the passion for details in buildings and beautiful houses that later attracted me
to architectural school, a passion that is still very much with me today. |
While the Romanian language is Latin based, and the culture and temperament bear distinctly Latin characteristics, the Romania into which I was born was a Francophile country. Its intellectual class had strong ties to France going back to 1848 Cultural Revolution and beyond. My grandfather had been a French professor and when my father came of age he was sent to study medicine at the university in Montpellier, in Southern France. By the time he returned, his family had become “the proletariat’s enemies” a determination that had a significant impact on our lives.
It took many years to shake that anathema. Eventually I managed to study architecture and philosophy at the university; I later went back for a law degree.
Occasionally the little eastern tyrants lifted the ‘iron curtain’ a bit to gain “most favored nation status” in trade. Such a moment paved my way to the US nearly twenty years ago.
Veni, vidi, and stayed… I could say! The extent of English I knew on arrival was little more than an hour and a half of Arthur Miller’s play, “Incident at Vichy,” which I had memorized from a tape recording of a production starring Lee J. Cobb. Several years after arriving in New York, at a reception honoring the architect I.M.Pei, I met someone else who also knew all the lines of the play - the playwright Arthur Miller. This is the photo I sent to my friends
It wasn’t my speech-making (read play-reciting) abilities that helped me earn a living but the skills I acquired supervising a team of designers producing presentations of building projects for the Romanian government. Soon after I arrived in New York a partner and I opened a business in Soho serving architects, developers and real estate firms. I left to consult, then eventually to work in real estate in Westchester County, an occupation that provides me with great satisfaction as I help people fulfill their shelter needs.