Robert Mankin is in the business of showcasing competition. For the last 10 years, he’s been a go-to guy for sports venue design in the downtown L.A. office of architecture and design firm NBBJ.
“They’re engaging, exciting projects, different than doing office buildings or commercial work,” Mankin said of designing sports stadiums and arenas.
Mankin was recently named partner at Seattle-headquartered NBBJ, which refocused his role toward development of the firm’s long-term strategic goals. He will remain involved in projects – sports and commercial alike – despite his increased duties in overseeing firmwide business.
Currently, Mankin is wrapping up work on a sports park in Hangzhou, China. Construction on the 80,000-seat stadium is scheduled to be completed in 18 months.
“It’s a provincial city in China and it’s kind of a new frontier,” he said. “I’m proud of the working relationship we’ve had with our (Chinese office). It’s made for a closer team and a better project.”
Mankin began his architecture career with Leo A Daly in Washington, D.C. A sports-related project with Westpoint Military Academy in New York state piqued his interest in sports design. In 2000, he decided to make the move to Los Angeles to pursue sports architecture full time.
Mankin has worked on projects for NBBJ across the country, including the renovation of UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion basketball arena, but focuses primarily on the Asian market. For him, every client presents an opportunity to develop a unique design tailored to the community.
“Each city has a different identity,” he said. “That’s what’s exciting about it. There’s always a chance to innovate and try something new, do something exciting architecturally.”
Although his role as partner has moved his focus to the business side of the firm, he still understands the value of having a creative outlook.
“Being able to do work on pieces myself kind of gets my mind into a different place,” said Mankin, who also paints and sculpts. “Sometimes it may lead to an idea that’s directly applicable to a project or sometimes it just unlocks a thought direction.”
Mankin, 40, lives with his wife, Andrea, in Westchester. In his spare time, he enjoys the outdoors and has hiked the Grand Canyon several times.