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OCC Architectural Design Alumnus Anthony Sanchez Reaches New Heights with Help of Faculty Mentor Student Success Profile
Anthony Sanchez moved from Colorado to Costa Mesa over twenty years ago with little more than a few suitcases and dreams of becoming an architect. He joined Orange Coast College’s Architectural Technology program with simply an interest in design and the ability to draw.
Professor Rose Anne Garcia Kings remembers him as one her first students at OCC. She has vivid memories of his accurate drawings, and also his shy demeanor. She also remembers Anthony for teaching her something along the way.
“So many students, especially in the arts, are visual or hands-on learners, but have spent most of their academic life struggling to learn by listening or reading,” says Garcia Kings. “With students like Anthony, I learned how to teach in a way that they could see and experience. It is a teaching style that I still use to this day.”
For Anthony, Kings was a mentor and a guide through his early years at OCC.
“She is a great teacher and a great person,” says Anthony. “She was almost motherly, offering me a ride because I didn’t have a car and needed to carry large architectural models to campus. She got me the job; I owe a lot to her.”
That job was Anthony’s first role in architecture, an internship at Nadel Architecture and Planning, a widely recognized architectural firm that specializes in retail and multifamily spaces. Anthony transferred to Woodbury University in Los Angeles after completing the program at OCC. The Nadel internship turned into a full-time role as a designer where Anthony worked on the creative side of the architecture firm for over six years.
After Nadel, Anthony earned a Masters in Advanced Architecture Design from Columbia University. He spent two years at WET Design, traveling the world, working on some of the world’s most famous water features. Next, he spent nearly 9 years as a designer for Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield where he led the concept design for larger-scale mixed-use projects, including the exterior of the iconic Westfield Century City Mall.
“Westfield Century City was the project that catapulted my career,” says Anthony. “Throughout the project, I was onsite working out of the site trailers where I learned firsthand the challenges of putting a building together and how to become a better designer for the builder, the owner, and user.”
In 2020, Nadel recruited Anthony to be their Design Director, overseeing all the design for the firm. Today, Anthony works with a diverse group of clients and project types to set the vision and lead the design teams to create the desired look and feel.
“It is a new challenge and a big level up for my career,” says Anthony. “I get to stay on the front end of projects. My role is a nice balance between business development and staying creative.”
Throughout the years, Kings has kept up with many of her students’ professional progress. When Covid-19 shut down in-person classes, she took remote learning as an opportunity to bring in OCC alumni that were further away. Anthony was on that list.
“What is really powerful for students in the initial stages of architecture is to hear stories they can relate to,” says Kings. “Anthony talked to the students about lifelong learning, how he learned to communicate and how he builds a professional network. He is humble and students connected with that.”
After the guest lectures, Anthony joined Kings in the studio for design critiques.
“Twenty years ago, we didn’t have robots and 3D printing in the lab,” says Anthony. “Now, there is all of that at OCC. The resources are on par with everything at well-known design schools.”
As for Kings, she is incredibly proud of Anthony’s successes, but she is also not surprised.
“There are many ways to learn great design, but to really refine and develop a professional is what OCC is good at,” says Kings. “All of the instructors at OCC bring their talent, and their professional network to the classroom. We know how to shepherd our students into a career.”