Meet Sonali Dalvi, Associate AIA, Featured for Asian American/ Pacific Islander Heritage Month

May 15, 2019

Meet Sonali Dalvi, Associate AIA, Featured for Asian American/ Pacific Islander Heritage Month

 

I am Sonali Dalvi, Associate AIA. I have a Bachelor of Architecture (India), LEED-AP BD&C, and a diploma in Indian classical dance. My husband, Swapnil, is an IT Engineer and we have two daughters.

In 2006, after working in an architectural firm at India -Fourth Dimension Architects at Pune, a town near Mumbai, leaving India for the USA was a big decision for us. In the USA, the first place I visited was ground zero in NY. I felt so sad when I was standing there, watching the site. I remembered watching the buildings collapse on TV back in India. I can never, ever forget!! I said to myself, I want to build/work in NY. Finally, in 2007, I ended up working at site 26 at lower Manhattan for the client Goldmann Sachs and reporting to NY Port Authority as a special inspector. Being on site full time was a great experience. I learned a lot of practical things which I would not have learned sitting in the office.

I began to research how to get involved with the architecture industry here and found aia.org where this organization gave me an opportunity to be a portfolio reviewer (2011). But this was
not the end, I got curious to learn about sustainable buildings and became LEED AP-BD&C. The last page on the study guide of LEED-BD&C said to go out and get involved in the community which inspired me to get involved in downtown redevelopment committee of our township. The Mayor wanted to nominate me as a candidate for a town councilwoman but I was not a citizen!! Thankfully the same day I received a letter from the government to interview for naturalization and I got the citizenship 2018. During the oath ceremony, I decided to give back to the community here. It was honorable for me when I was nominated as a candidate to run for the town office.

The campaign began, knocking door to door, asking people the issues they had regarding the downtown redevelopment. Debating and delivering speeches was a great experience and still participating in a community makes me feel happy. This article shows some of my experience. 

Today, I am in pursuit of NCARB certification. I enjoy working at Aztec Corp on commercial base building and interior design projects. Architect Susan Baumann guides me through the path towards licensure. It was my pleasure to work with firms like Jarmel Kiezel Architects and Engineers, Design Resources Group Architects Inc., USA architects, Michael Farewell Architect at New Jersey on a variety of K-12 and commercial projects. To be honest, working with Michael Farewell has given the best feel of the architecture and sustainable buildings so far. I’m chasing my dream and I believe in myself to fulfill it with the help of the architecture industry here in the USA in the near future.

During my free time, I like to read, do yoga and cook new recipes for my family. Henna tattooing and painting are the hobbies I love sharing with kids and adults. Every year my family, friends and I fundraise for “poor people in need” in India. I have created a 3 feet tall model of Empire State building surrounded by buildings of NY, where I tried to involve all age groups from kids to seniors as a team. This was showcased and the visitors were asked to donate for the cause. All my family members are performers so we love to expose our skills of performing arts like music, theatre, folk dance, and classical Indian dance. We celebrate festivals like Diwali-festival of lights, Holi-festival of colors, Navratri-festival of dance and above all we love to celebrate Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, too. We as a family strive to be happy no matter where on this earth we belong!!

Thank you!!
Sonali Dalvi

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