Architecture: A Passion & A Career
Maggi Sedlis Goldstein
Maggi Sedlis Goldstein, a licensed architect, “evolved” into the project management business from a career as a practicing architect, and has been at the helm of her Project Management business, Sedlis Goldstein Group, LLC, since 1995. Projects have ranged from $1,000,000 to a current workload of several projects including two current 100-million dollar projects. She credits the success of her business to “relationship building” and her diversified career path.
A graduate of the High School of Music and Art, where she took classes in fashion design, she went on to study at the Parsons School of Design/The New School for Social Research, where she received a BFA in Environmental Design, a program that was a mixed bag of architecture, interior design, landscape and urban design. The variety of disciplines was eye opening and exciting.
Having always wanted to be an architect, she fondly recalls a childhood fascination with drawing floor plans (“I still have copies of them), and parents who would take her on weekend excursions to see model houses and apartments (kind of a goofy interest for a 9 year old!). However, she received mixed signals about pursuing this dream because a) she was a girl, and b) she was not good in math. While at Parsons, she was encouraged by one of her instructors, (“you can do it!”), and she applied for a Master’s in Architecture at Washington University in St. Louis. Having never been west of Philadelphia or south of Washington D.C., St Louis was as far as she had the courage to go and it seemed like an adventure. At the time, there were no women on the faculty, and she was the only female in her graduating class.
Though Frank Lloyd Wright was a background influence (“I loved his sense of scale, context, environment”), her career began with hands-on work in construction. After her Master’s, she went to Culebra, Puerto Rico where she actually did construction and built wood frame houses. Then, after a few years back and forth between New York City and St. Louis, she permanently returned to New York. This being the late 70s, early 80s, jobs were scarce, but she landed a job in White Plains working on corporate interiors. These were the early days of “Affirmative Action”, and though she sensed that she was being hired for gender rather than expertise, her attitude was, “hire me!” Indeed, she seems always to have moved with opportunity, whatever its motive or source. The result was picking up practical knowledge. She did at first resist going into interior design (it seemed like such a cliché for a “girl”), but she recognized that this area would give her practical design and management experience. And she picked up more than practical knowledge—she learned how to manage projects and clients! Confidence brought an appreciation of the savvy customer. “Early in my career, we used to joke that the projects would be great if we didn’t have clients! Then as I gained more experience, I realized that the best, most successful, projects had the most ‘educated clients’, those who were willing to learn and had done their due diligence.”
She is always looking to take advantages of opportunities and leads as they presented themselves, and has built her career on this. One of her current clients, New York Presbyterian Hospital, came about years ago through a former associate. She was originally recommended to provide project management training to the facilities team (that didn’t materialize); but what did, was something better. She was asked to provide Project Management services on a project at the hospital, a move that would give her expertise in hospital construction and regulatory requirements—drawing on a wide range of design and financial activities, among them developing and adhering to standards—and has been consulting with the Hospital ever since.
Her client list, which includes both residential and commercial projects, exemplifies her firm’s diversity—co-ops, educational institutions (Barnard, NYIT, The New School), healthcare, not-for profits, media organizations and arts clubs. She prides herself on bringing projects in on time and within budget, and very happy clients. Maybe she ought to work for the Feds. #