News from AU
August 22, 2019

Zakary Man: Robots and Cyborgs, 9/11, and Creating a Better World

This interview is part of a series featuring the members of our diverse AU community, from speakers and conference attendees to forum participants and online commenters. You are AU.

Zakary Man

1. What’s your current job role?
I oversee Innovation + Research and Development at Knotel. Focusing on products, architecture, and technological breakthroughs, I provide vision and strategy to deliver excessive growth. I strive to achieve the impossible and make dreams come true.

2. What are your main areas of expertise and interest?
Perhaps my areas of “expertise” would be my integrity, my passion, my tenacity, my curiosity, and my hunger for new knowledge. I am most interested in making a positive impact and creating a better world. My current role at Knotel allows me to experiment with these concepts as we are constantly seeking and delivering innovative ideas to different clients and stakeholders.

3. What’s your favorite piece of technology?
I am a big fan of AI and would love to see where it will bring us. But I also appreciate the more primitive and profound “technology” such as calligraphy, sculpture, and sketching. I am also interested in technologies related to deep space travel, robots and cyborgs, and renewable energy.

4. What do you find most challenging about your work?
One of the most challenging tasks is developing a new product, process, or set of rules which can fit everyone's needs. Identifying the imaginary sweet spot everyone can agree on and be happy about is extremely challenging (yet fun!). One of my greatest personal challenges is that I am an introvert by nature and it is somewhat uneasy for me to express myself. To make it worse, English is my second language. My brain runs about 25 times faster than my tongue.

5. What excites you about the future? What scares you?
The unknown worlds, the unidentified territories, and the uncertainties—all these get me super excited. What scares me the most is how far we can go, and how much time we have left. That is why I pay close attention to sustainability, energy, and how we should be dealing with population and limited resources.

6. Where do you want to be in 10 years?
I want to become a leader in building, making, creating, and innovating at the global level—and even beyond global, to make bigger and more positive impacts on even more people.

7. What’s a fun fact that people may not know about you?
Witnessing 9/11 was a wake-up call for me to decide to utilize my passion to build and create, instead of destroy. That was the mindset which allowed me to rapidly build in over 15 major cities internationally, ranging from skyscrapers and major tech company HQs to public and federal facilities, museums, and internationally award-winning projects.

A few of the projects Zakary has worked on. Credits (top to bottom, left to right): 1) Amsterdam Pavilion / New York, NY / Evans & Paul; 2) Tampa Museum of Art / Tampa, FL / Stanley Saitowitz, Natoma Architects; 3) 8 Octavia / San Francisco, CA / Stanley Saitowitz, Natoma Architects; 4) 111 West Wacker / Chicago, IL / Handel Architects; 5) Filiene Center & Millennium Tower / Boston, MA / Handel Architects; 6) Shangri La at the Fort & Stock Exchange / Manila, Philippines / Handel Architects; 7) Google HQ / New York, NY / HLW International; 8) Nokia Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs / Murray Hills, NJ / HLW International; 9) Brooklyn Navy Yard, Admiral's Row / Brooklyn, NY / S9 Architecture; 10) Water Building II at the Wharf / Washington, DC / S9 Architecture; 11) Knotel Agile HQ / New York, NY / Knotel