Interview – John Diffenderfer

Interviewer: Kayla Aldridge

Interviewee: John D. Diffenderfer 

Principal of Aedis Architecture & Planning

In his 18 years of practice, John has overseen a diverse range of projects, ranging from educational to civic, military, commercial and residential.  He served as Principal in charge for over 30 major projects. John joined AEDIS in 1991 and was named Principal in 2000. John received a Bachelor of Architecture at the University of Arizona, Tucson and is a registered architect in California.  He is a member of the American Institute of Architects and a LEED accredited professional.


* How did you get involved in the Fox building project?


Anna and I met socially one night, and discovered our interests regarding sustainable principles. We met for coffee shortly after to further discuss some of our ideas. When I suggested EBOM of the Fox building Anna was on board right away. From there we spent some more time discussing how we would get the funds and support to undergo the project. We then set up an appointment with the facilities department and we were very lucky to discover that everyone seemed very interested in the idea, and just needed a little push to get started.


* How has your experience been with the internship?


Most of my involvement has been directly through Maria. I haven’t had much interaction with the interns except at the larger group meetings. I can say, however, that I have really enjoyed the team’s work and how effective they have been. It’s encouraging to work with interns that are so mature and dedicated to what they do. 


What advice would you give to this group to pass on to the next group of interns?


Have faith. It might seem like there is a lot of work, and there is, but just work on achieving one small goal at a time. It will be chaotic but if you tackle each step when it comes, your milestones will be reached. Interns need to trust that their hard work is getting them somewhere. 


Some of the checklist items have gone from maybe’s to yes’es and yes’es to no’s. Is this typical? Does it surprise you?


Absolutely. It’s always a good idea to draw out a roadmap in the beginning as a sort of outline, but we always need to be flexible to change. It’s like the same with every design process; sometimes we have these ideas and for one reason or another we end up needed to make some changes halfway through. I can also say it is not something that you can get better at either. All projects have these roadblocks. One thing that experience has done for me, however, is to help me expect these obstacles. If you assume the worst you are open to change when you need it. 


How does EBOM differ from New Construction?


EBOM is more about policy, behavior, and systems, and less about design. It’s about managing and working with other people, which is ultimately less of a factor in new construction. We have to make sure there are people to run the equipment correctly, and that the right cleaning products are being used, etc. 



John is very hopeful that the Fox building will be LEED certified by Christmas or 2013. Once we figure out exactly which credits to attempt there will be a performance period where things such as indoor air quality and energy consumption are measured. Fall 2013 is going to be a busy semester for the interns!

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