Member Spotlight: Bryan Cook, Berardi+Detroit

Bryan Cook, NOMA, AIA, is director of Berardi+Detroit and president of the Detroit chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA). He’s also a board game designer and loves drawing superheroes and other characters with his son.

SpaceLab’s Grow Detroit’s Young Talent 2018 summer intern Micah Womack spoke with Bryan about architecture and running a firm.



Please tell me about your company.

Our company is called Berardi Detroit. We’re an architecture and engineering firm. We’ve been open since SpaceLab has been open. We primarily do multifamily housing projects and a lot of Motor City Match and Motor City ReStore Projects.

As someone going to college, what advice would you give me?

Figure out what you don’t want to do, and don’t do that. That’s the best advice I can give. A lot of people have a hard time finding what they want to do. I was one of the weird ones – I just wanted to be an architect, and I just kept going down that path. Unless you already know, try out some stuff, or if it doesn’t seem like something you don’t want to do, or if doesn’t even seem interesting, just avoid it. You’ve got to do some required classes here and there, but for the most part, try to avoid what you don’t want to do.

Why Detroit? Why did Berardi want to come to Detroit?

Berardi wanted to come to Detroit because they had almost 40 years of experience working with nonprofit organizations doing multifamily housing, apartments and senior living, and there seemed to be a gap in the market. There wasn’t a firm addressing, or talking, to nonprofits in that way, making them a focus. There’s a housing boom in the city, so it was kind of a perfect time to come along.

What do you see as some of your biggest opportunities in the future?

Still doing a lot of housing, but getting into different project types. There are a lot of childcare needs out there – that’s something I’m interested in doing. Even though there’s a lot of housing announced and a lot of housing that’ll be built soon, there will still be more needed.

Walk us through your management strategy.

One step at a time. We do weekly meetings with the team, and try to plan out our week. What do we have on the table this week that we have to get done? Obviously, if something comes along, we try to fit it in there. But I’ve found, if we at least plan for the week and address the things that need to be done that week, we’re pretty successful.

What’s the biggest item on your to-do list?

Calling people back, and it’s a constant follow up. You might have a contact with a client one time, and you send them some information, and you might not hear back from them. Or you do, and you still need to call them. It’s a constant thing: just following up and making sure you’re building that relationship. That’s probably the biggest to-do that I do and don’t do. The squeaky wheel gets the oil sometimes. The client that’s calling me constantly, they’re going to get my attention, but I still need to address the other clients that don’t call as much just to make sure they’re happy with the way things are going.

What’s the worst advice you’ve gotten?

Don’t become a licensed architect.

What recent changes in the architecture industry have you seen that are positive?

I feel there’s more collaboration between different people and firms. I think collaboration is a trend. Before, it was “I do this, you do that.” I feel there’s more of a collaboration happening between architects, engineers, and even the contractor. If we don’t stay on the same page, it just goes left really fast.

If there was one thing you could change about your company, what would it be and why?

There’s not much I would change right now. I’d want more people to do more work, but I need more work to get more people. I think we’re right where we’re supposed to be; I think we’re growing. We’re trying to find the balance where we are, and then see where we need to go. I think it’s a constant move forward, and we’re doing that.

Tell us about NOMA.

NOMA is the National Organization of Minority Architects. I am the current Detroit Bryan Cookchapter president. It’s a professional organization – the idea is to get people of color in the industry together to network. We’ve found that there aren’t a lot of us, so our emphasis is outreach to high school students like yourself, telling them that we’re architects, engineers, interior designers, landscape architects, structural engineers – and you can be one, too. That’s really the only way we grow the numbers – by exposing it (architecture) to younger people. It’s not something you can turn just left into. Like say, you’re going to school for art, and then you decide to get an MBA and go into business. You can get an MBA and then go into architecture. It’s just not an easy road to turn into.

What’s the best thing that happened to you this year?

My son was born – my second son was born. He’s six months now.

A question for myself: In school, when professionals come out and to speak to students, would you like to be one? Can reach back out to you?

Yes, for sure!

SpaceLab Members are making lasting impressions on Detroit

LOUIS FISHER, AIA, NOMA is celebrating his 40th year of living in Detroit and practicing architecture in the city. Louis owns Architecture & Urban Design, PC, and was project architect for the U.S. Tennis Association’s Arthur Ashe and Louis Armstrong Stadiums in Queens, NY (with Rossetti), the 1980’s expansion of Cobo Center in Detroit (with Sims-Varner) and designer for many other projects in Detroit. Louis is currently the national treasurer for the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA).


BERARDI +, with Detroit Director Bryan Cook, NOMA, AIA (left) and his team, continues to offer architectural and design services for several Motor City Match and Motor City Re-Store retail and restaurant projects.


VM3 CONSULTING CORP. has been recognized as a Diversity Focused Company by Corp! magazine. Led by founder and CEO Alisha Moss, VM3 helps clients jumpstart diversity programs by providing strategies that will ingrain diversity into their organizations. As a small, minority, woman-owned strategic management consulting firm, VM3 understands the importance of diversity and the difficulty of implementing it into corporate culture.

A Summer of Learning, Growing and Coworking

Micah Womack is a 17-year-old rising senior at Detroit Collegiate Preparatory at Northwestern High School. Next summer she graduates, but this summer she spent six weeks as an intern at SpaceLab through the Grow Detroit’s Young Talent (GDYT) program. As a Motor City Match (MCM) business, SpaceLab was excited to participate through GDYT and MCM’s partnership. Micah wrote the post below at the end of her internship with us. We’ll be posting more of her work – interviews that she conducted with SpaceLab’s Bobby Burton and some of our coworking member companies – and we hope to work with her again.

Today I’m here to tell you about my summer. This summer was amazing; I couldn’t ask for a better one. While kids my age were staying up late I had to go to bed at 10. While the kids my age were out late, I was in the house getting ready for the next day.

Micah was encouraged to read about professionals who are excelling.

My favorite part of my summer was the first day I walked into SpaceLab. I was welcomed, and I felt like this where I belong in the future. Working at SpaceLab is something I love doing. I met new people and learned new things. I can honestly can say I learned a lot from this wonderful experience. Before this job I couldn’t tell you one thing about architecture, now I can give you a thousand and one facts about it.

I have learned about new websites that I never heard of: Eventbrite, Hootsuite, Doodle and many more. Everyone who knows me knows I love to work on Canva, but I actually didn’t use Canva that much. I learned to use different websites such as the ones I just named. I also learned how to set up Lunch and Learns and to set up calendars for sharing and coordinating events. This workplace has shown me a lot, and not just all on the computer. I learned about different companies and what they do, when they first became a company, and about the people.

The people who I was surrounded with this summer, who work in SpaceLab, were amazing. Every morning I was greeted with a “Hello” or “Good morning.” When I first started out, I felt like I was just going to work and wanted to get it over with. But as I really got used to it, I actually loved waking up in the morning, taking a 30-minute bus ride and a 5-minute walk just to get here.

Micah with SDG Associates VP Wesley Sims after she completed The Wright Museum building block set.

There are a lot of wonderful people walking about in SpaceLab. They’re always smiling and working. I didn’t think that I would gain so much information, but before I left I learned different things from Berardi+ (architecture firm), from WolfVR (virtual reality company), and from SDG (architecture firm). I wish I could have interviewed everyone, but I kind of read everyone from the way they dressed, walked, or smiled. If I could go down the list and name everybody in this building I would, but here are the ones I’ll remember most: Louis, Michal, Mark, Bryan, Naomi, Valentina, Melvin, Andrew, and Ms. Doreen. For the most part, I’m going to really miss Mrs. Karen and Mr. Bobby. Since I’ve been here, they have made this job experience amazing – they taught me so much.

Mrs. Karen taught me always follow your heart and your dreams, and everything will fall in place. Mr. Bobby taught me to believe in yourself even when nobody does, and never let anybody’s opinion change your thought or opinion on something. I just want to thank them for this experience that they gave me. They really showed me a lot. They took me on a wonderful college tour and showed me different aspects of the school and business life.

Thank y’all for having me around for these amazing six weeks. I’m going to truly miss y’all and being here.

Grow Detroit’s Young Talent Intern Starts at SpaceLab

Micah-01   We’re proud to participate with the Detroit Economic Growth Corp. and Motor City Match in the City of Detroit’s Grow Detroit’s Young Talent summer internship program. Our intern, Micah, is self-motivated and creative. She has experience developing graphic design and marketing materials at her high school, and she’ll be assisting us with social media and in creating our first year economic impact report.

Our coworking atmosphere exposes Micah to an entrepreneurial career path and provide an opportunity for her to interact with several business owners all in one location who can act as strong role models.

Micah is ambitious and has set many goals beyond high school, including being an entrepreneur and attending medical school to become a pediatrician or OBGYN.


SpaceLab Awarded Detroit Motor City Match Grant

Imagine our excitement when we got the call! SpaceLab Detroit was one of 13 business awarded a cash grant through Round 7 of the Motor City Match program, a unique partnership between the City of Detroit, the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC), the Economic Development Corporation of the City of Detroit (EDC) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

We’re proud to be part of the “new culture of entrepreneurism,” described by Mayor Mike Duggan, “where Detroiters are realizing their dream of opening their own businesses to provide residents access to more goods and services…” Read more in the Motor City Match press release.

WXYZ the Ch. 7 Video

Ten of the 13 businesses awarded a total of $500,000 in Motor City Match grants are women-owned – including SpaceLab Detroit – as reported in Crain’s Detroit Business. Last July, we were a Round 4 Space Award winner through the program. The Space Award connects “new or existing businesses with top available Detroit real estate and financial planning assistance.”

See more on this quarterly awards  program, the presentations, and the award winners on mLive and Deadline Detroit.

Clockwise from top left: Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan talks about the impact of Motor City Match; Mike Rafferty, DEGC vice president of small business development, presents the awardees; Karen and Bobby Burton show off the award; Karen with Felicia Maxwell, owner of Fit4Life; Bobby with Ederique Gouda, owner of Gabriel Hall; the recognition ceremony took place at Lil Brilliant Mindz, a Round 4 award winner.