Phill Noret Achieves 30 Years

Oct 01, 2019

Phillip Noret, AIA, LEED AP, is celebrating 30 years with RIM Architects. During his ongoing tenure, he has witnessed many changes within the industry and at RIM. In reflecting on his architectural career, Phill has shared some personal insight into the growth of the firm, its future, and the Guam office.

Describe your early career.

Upon graduation from the University of Miami with a degree in architecture, I returned home to Alaska and worked for a design build contractor for six years. I answered a newspaper ad and accepted an architectural position with RIM; at that time, it was a small firm called Larry S. Cash Architects. I worked out of the Anchorage office under the direction of Phil Usher, and my first assignment was the Alyeska Day Lodge project. After about three months, Larry curiously left a handwritten note on my desk one morning: “Do you want to go to Guam next month?” I thought about it briefly and couldn’t think of any good reason to decline. I said “yes”—thinking it would be a six- to eight-week stint. But here I am, 30 years later, still employed at RIM and enjoying my job in Guam. I work with a great group and that is one of the main reasons I enjoy working here.

What was it like to suddenly be working in Guam?

When I arrived in Guam, the office was called HNC Architects. I was shocked to discover that my chair was a wooden stool without padding, and all work here was hand-drafted. They still used Leroy lettering to make titles. A year later, I was given a computer, loaded with AutoCAD, and got to try out AutoCad for two days. I was immediately asked to complete a tenant improvement project for the Bank of Hawaii. I purchased an AutoCAD instructional book, taught myself AutoCAD, and successfully delivered that project. Shortly thereafter, another project required “3-D” AutoCAD drawings, so I bought myself another book and learned how to draft in 3D. It was a challenging and rewarding experience to learn new skills.

What is your greatest achievement at RIM?

At RIM, I am known for my expertise in preparing construction documents and for my ability to put together a quality set of plans. RIM is appreciated by both Contractors and Owners for putting together excellent construction documents.

Do you have a favorite project?

No, I have MANY favorite projects. That’s what keeps me working in Guam. I’m proud of the quality of work we perform, and I enjoy the challenge of working within the constraints of Guam’s unique environment including its humid climate, wind load factors, and seismic considerations.

What changes have you noticed at RIM?

I’ve seen LOTS of changes. When I started working in the Guam office, all drawings were hand-drafted as mentioned earlier, and the office itself looked rather humble compared to modern standards. Today, our drawings are much more sophisticated; our interior designs, detailed design work, and construction administration services are highly sought out; and projects are sometimes of a mega scale. For example, in Guam, I am currently working on one of the tallest hotels in Guam, the $180 million Hotel Tsubaki. This ultra-luxurious, high-profile hotel is located on a cliff with a stairway down to the beach. RIM began with the original concept design, developed by Japanese architect Kuniken, and we developed the project through construction documents. RIM is currently providing construction administration services for the hotel which is scheduled for completion in March 2020.

Another notable change at RIM is its increased capacity and reach, having grown from two tiny offices, to five sizable locations, strategically located in Anchorage, Alaska; San Francisco and Tustin, California; Hagåtña, Guam; and Honolulu, Hawaii. Today, RIM employs more than 70 professionals and has greatly enhanced its service offerings.

What do you envision for RIM’s future?

Throughout the years, I’ve enjoyed watching RIM grow in terms of industry respect and physical size and believe this trend will continue. I love my job and hope to continue working on many more projects here in Guam—both large and small.