I have known Alex Pino for years as a very successful real estate broker, but it was not until I moved to Sotheby's International Realty Canada that I was exposed to his great skills and talents as a photographer. I love the sense of line, design, and architectural context that he brings to his work. I am very proud to be able to share not only his work with you but his thoughts about the context in which he photographs.
Your pictures seem to be well balanced. Can you say that about yourself?
I think so. I am committed to my family, friends, and work. Photography is a way to be creative and see life from a different angle that can be shared in an image.
Do you take all the interior shots in your listings yourself?
About 95 per cent of the photos are mine. Even when I see the need to hire a professional photographer, I often tell them the angle I want, as I have a better understanding of the spaces and the way to market them.
As an architect you must be sensitive to your environment. What trends in construction do you see in Toronto?
The real estate trends are economically driven. I agree with the city's densification policy of the major traffic corridors. The Bloor and Danforth line is missing a fair amount of development. Townhouses are starting to fill in other arteries, such as Bayview, Bathurst, Avenue Road, and Finch. The need for an alternate subway line is evident, as the city is way behind. Concentrating the population will allow for better services and interaction, controlling (at the same time) urban sprawl.
Aesthetically, I finally see a more contemporary approach to architecture taking place throughout the city. Given our nature, we have kept the same type of construction for centuries and I am glad consumers have other choices in today's marketplace. High-rise buildings should also offer a more creative street-scape away from the boring cookie-cutter glass tower.
Would you say that you have a fetish for steel and glass?
Not really. I am drawn to shapes and patterns. My eye really catches the geometry of a pattern conformed by lines, shadows, colours, et cetera — regardless of the material. Sometimes it is a concrete structure, a line of trees, columns, or balconies aligned. I called it #architecteye or #geometriceye. This must be part of our training in architectural schools.
What is the most valuable asset or lesson you learned in the construction industry?
To be on time and within budget. That is a great source of credibility for future business. If clients get what they were offered, most likely, they will retain you again or refer your services. I have transferred this skill to my current practice, so what I offer is what the client gets and more.
Why did you stop blogging? Your writing was really good.
The day only has 24 hours and I just could not find the time to do it. I had too many other obligations with industry-related events, committees, task forces, and boards — which I have scaled down, so I am going to start writing again soon.
How would you describe the Spanish-speaking community in Toronto?
We are hard-working, family-oriented, kind, helpful, creative, resourceful, and happy.
What is your favourite part of the city?
I love downtown, either Front Street close to the St Lawrence Market or the University of Toronto campus, as they offer really nice architectural treats. Neighbourhood-wise, I enjoy the tree-lined streets of Rosedale with all the heritage architecture, the Victorian houses in Cabbagetown, and the peaceful family-oriented Leaside, where we live. Walking to Sunnybrook Park is a gift we really treasure.
Can you recommend some of the restaurants you like to visit regularly?
Tabule offers fantastic Middle Eastern cuisine. We love all the vegetarian dishes such as falafel, hummus, and warak enab. Their fried eggplant comes directly from paradise! Lemongrass is another favourite, as we find Thai food ingredients very close to our tropical Caribbean coconut and mango dishes. Mi Tierra is where we enjoy Colombia's typical dishes, so birthdays are usually treated with a special pargo rojo or bandeja paisa.
More pictures are available at http://web.stagram.com/n/alexpino7/.