one firm, many voices // robert acuña-pilgrim
Like most gifted storytellers, Dallas Principal, Robert Acuña-Pilgrim is a great listener. While he believes every good design solution begins with listening, you can also always count on him for a warm conversation. You have heard many southerners quip “how’s ya momma?” and it’s the same brand of inquisitiveness that drives most interactions with Robert. He genuinely wants to get to know the ‘you’ your family loves.
Robert approaches relationship building with this same spirit of generosity and a passion for mentoring the next generation of design professionals, so it’s no surprise he has become a strong business development leader and mentor to planners and urban designers throughout the firm. Read on to learn more about how this only child from Mississippi has grown in his career and become a model for inclusivity and living authentically. Chat him up over coffee soon but let him pick the place. Only the best will do for this coffee connoisseur.
1. How did you find landscape architecture?
Looking back on it… My mom and dad would let me take over the living room floor with my Legos, Lincoln logs, erector set, trains, racetracks, matchbox cars and other building toys to create entire villages/towns well before I hear the term master planned community. Circa 1972-1982.
2. How did you decide to pursue your current job/career?
After landing at a firm that practiced LA, Planning, Architecture and Interior Design, I found planning to be something that seemed to bridge my 2 degrees (Landscape Architecture and Architecture) the best. I really gravitated to it.
3. What is your job title and role? Describe the things you are responsible for day-to-day and big picture.
I am a Principal in our Dallas office. I co-lead the planning team with Yixiao and lead the recruiting team for all north Texas hiring.
4. What do you love most about your work?
The people, co-workers and clients. And new challenges.
5. What is the biggest challenge to your role? Greatest challenge to the profession.
Thinking ahead! And adjusting and adapting to a changing world.
6. What was the first project you worked on at TBG?
The first one that I remember from scratch was Avalon at Seven Meadows.
7. Please list three goals that you currently have your sights on.
– Continuing to Mentor young team members
– Being part of a team that allows us to design a walkable community with exceptional architecture
– Designing great communities with equity in mind.
8. What accomplishments (in your career or life) have given you a sense of pride and satisfaction?
To see those I’ve mentored succeed in their careers.
9. Describe your design philosophy in two lines
Creating livable integrated communities that are suitable for all, the kind of place that I would be proud to call home.
10. How do you define success?
Living a great life with my husband and pup, practicing with people that I enjoy, while continuing to do what I love daily!
11. You have $100 to burn, all your friends are busy, and you have the whole day to yourself, what do you do?
New workout/running shoes it is.
12. List the one song that you play at full volume whenever it comes on the radio
Phil Collins In the Air Tonight or Elton John Your Song.
13. Describe what you were like at age 10.
Nerdy little insecure only child.
14. What would surprise people to know about you?
I can’t keep my mouth shut, everyone knows everything.
15. What are two things you know you should know how to do but don’t?
How many feet are in a mile… just doesn’t stick. And I should speak Spanish.
16. Who’s someone you look up to as a mentor?
Many people, a few in no particular order are:
– Earl Broussard
– Sean Compton
– Tom Afflerbach
– Jim Knight
– Cla Allgood
– Terry Mitchell
– Andy Hutton
– Luis Acuna-Pilgrim (my husband and an incredibly smart soul)
– Several family members
17. What motivates and inspires you?
To be a better person tomorrow than yesterday, and Luis!
18. List out what you would like to be remembered for after you’re gone (i.e. What would be written on your tombstone?).
He loved his family and made the world a better place than he found it.
19. What are two personal habits that have served you well?
Trying to treat others well and smiling.
20. How do you define happiness in your career and life?
Living my authentic self with my husband and pup while trying to treat others how I would like to be treated.
21. Ask me about…