How a family on the frontlines of history influenced her career ambitions
Our team is diverse in many ways, including in our professional backgrounds. For example, Platt/Whitelaw’s newest team member, Gloria Nonaka-Rubio, cut her chops at both engineering and general contracting firms.
“Attention to detail is one of my top strengths,” Gloria said. Through her time working with engineers and contractors, she saw how even a small mistake or inaccuracy on architectural drawings could lead to issues down the line.
Becoming an architect
Gloria’s initial motivation for choosing a career was to help people. She had a strong interest in art and design growing up, but she thought the legal profession would better suit her ambitions. After trying out law school, she realized that architecture was a better professional match for her. She also realized that it, too, offered ways to help people.
Gloria is a licensed architect in Mexico and has worked on both sides of the border. She parlayed her design experience with industrial, retail, residential and high-rise buildings into providing architectural support, primarily for school projects, at Platt/Whitelaw.
In addition to supporting communities through school design, historic preservation—another Platt/Whitelaw specialty—also suits Gloria’s passion for design. She’s already had the chance to work on the historic Julian Witch Creek Schoolhouse belltower through Platt/Whitelaw.
History through the lens of the Nonaka family
Gloria’s enthusiasm for history is firmly rooted in her family history. Her grandfather owned Tijuana’s first photography studio and documented much of Tijuana’s growth. Gloria’s father was involved in the Tijuana Historical Society, and Gloria herself fought to preserve a Tijuana building where she worked.
Her family played a role in some historic events, too. Her Japanese grandfather fought in the Mexican Revolution. Then, during World War II, he and his family were given 48 hours to move from Tijuana to Mexico City. Residents of Japanese descent were removed from coastal areas and ordered to the east, with no compensation.
Explaining her passion for history and its associated architecture, Gloria said: “We are who we are because of it.”
While work keeps her very busy, Gloria’s current ambitions include earning her California architect’s license and completing LEED Certification training. She also makes time to spend with her husband and their two dogs and to support dog adoption groups.