Architect Jeffrey Beers, latest Thomas J. Volpe Series speaker, shares secrets of good design
St. Francis College welcomed award-winning architect Jeffrey Beers as the latest speaker for the Thomas J. Volpe Lecture Series on Nov. 10.
Beers, whose work includes Jay-Z’s 40-40 Club, China Grill and parts of the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas, spoke about creativity and innovation, saying that he doesn’t believe in one specific “aha” moment, but rather an accumulation of events and hard work.
“I believe that innovation is essentially risk taking on steroids, and in order to create new and better products and services we must all take on much greater risk,” he said.
Beers said that his greatest risk came toward the beginning of his career when he had started his own company, Jeffrey Beers International. Beers was to host a meeting with the Walt Disney World company and he wanted to give the illusion that his new company was a bustling hive of work. He invited several friends to come and fill the desks at his work space and pretend to draw up plans. He asked others to call during the meeting with Disney to give the appearance that Beers already had a number of clients.
His ruse worked and over the past many years Beers has completed several projects for Walt Disney around the world, including restaurants in Florida and Japan.
The Thomas J. Volpe Lecture Series is funded through a generous gift from Thomas J. Volpe, Chairman Emeritus of the St. Francis College board of trustees and a former senior vice president of financial operations for The Interpublic Group of Companies, Inc.
Guest speakers offer an international perspective in a variety of fields — from business leaders to world leaders. Past speakers include astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson (“Cosmos”), Jerry Greenfield (Ben & Jerry’s), authors Frank Bruni (The New York Times), Pete Hamill (“Snow in August”), E.L. Doctorow (“Ragtime”) and Salman Rushdie (“Midnight’s Children”), Russell Simmons (Def Jam), Mariane Pearl (wife of slain reporter Daniel Pearl), Paul Rusesabagina (the real Hotel Rwanda hero), Lech Walesa (former president of Poland, Nobel Prize winner) and George Mitchell (former U.S. senator, Nobel Peace Prize nominee, baseball steroids report).
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Over the last 25 years, Jeffrey Beers’ work has set a new standard for the field of hospitality design. Through thoughtful planning, design innovation and an incomparable synthesis of architecture and craft, he has created gathering spaces that transcend trends.
Beer’s interest in the relationship of architecture and glass led to an IIE/Fulbright scholarship in Brazil. While there, he worked with the celebrated Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, whom Beers credits with opening his eyes to the world of color and form. Upon returning to the U.S., Beers had the honor of joining the New York office of preeminent architect I.M Pei, helping to develop the design for the acclaimed Raffles City complex in Singapore and becoming fascinated by the dynamics of hotels and social spaces where people come to dine, celebrate, or be entertained. In 1986, he founded his own firm, Jeffrey Beers International (JBI).
Since then, the award-winning firm has been consistently recognized for its outstanding hospitality design as well as Beers’ ability to unite artistry with business strategy to create highly successful spaces, from hotels, restaurants and nightclubs to retail outlets, residences and offices. JBI is the recipient of three Gold Key Awards for design excellence, Contract magazine’s Interior Design Award, Interior Design’s “Best of Year” Design Award and in 2000 Beers was inducted into Hospitality Design’s Platinum Circle.
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