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Practice : Fall 2008
ALUMNI NEWS ] FEATURED ALUMNI Dana Smith '79 John Travolta lives in the house that Dana Smith built. "I worked with John and his wife, Kelly Preston, for nearly seven years until we completed the project in . We worked around more than half-a-dozen lms so progress came in ts and starts," recounts Smith. "John was very clear about his image for the house and never seemed to tire of the process. He trusted my guidance during design and construction." e BAC prepared Smith for his successful and, evidently, star-studded career. Working full-time in an architectural practice and going to school at night gave him valuable insight into the business of architecture. He learned to work e ciently and to trust his design instincts, made business acquaintances and gained con dence in his abilities. rough his urban design studios, Smith enhanced his social- consciousness, being charged to get out into the community and explore the surrounding urban fabric. When he graduated in , he felt better prepared than others of his age group and, since he was already employed, was able to contribute signi cantly to the projects he was working on. "I think too, that BAC engendered humility of self and a sense for community involvement," said Smith. "I gained some wonderful friends and mentors who remain so, years (or more) later." In , Smith and James Wachtel founded DJ Design, Inc. in northeast Florida. A full-ser vice architectural planning and design rm, they have worked on several hundred projects throughout the U.S., including airports, museums, o ces, sports stadiums and high-end residences. All of that experience certainly came in handy with the design for Travolta's Florida home; a home which includes a tarmac and aircraft pavilions for Travolta's private jets. " e satisfaction that I feel when I rst walk into one of my nished buildings immediately erases the months of struggle with clients, budgets, schedules and self-doubt. A recent client representative, who found that he was terminally ill shortly after we' d opened the project, said to me before he died, "How many people like me can look at a beautiful building like this and claim to have had a hand in building it?" At the deepest level, he appreci- ated what we had collectively done. at we are able to translate someone's need for shelter or work space into useful three dimensions, is one of those feelings that keep us going as architects." Travolta and Preston's Florida home, designed by Smith ARCHITECTURE PRACTICE 44