Class of 1986
By Kaitlyn Chock
Rob Iopa is an architect and president of WICT Architects. He oversees 50 employees, and manages numerous resort and resort residential projects located throughout the state and the world. He chose his profession because of his love for math and drawing, and his gift of creativity. The creative process, seeing a building “come to life,” and having his work appreciated by his clients is what fuels Rob, even as long hours and deadlines give him limited free time.
Some of the projects created by Rob and his company include: the Eastern and Oriental Hotel in Penang, Vietnam; the Kuhio Beach Development in Waikiki; the 503 Portlock residence in Honolulu; the Kuhio Lot 97 Residence in Kona; and the Sheraton Keauhou in Kona. The challenges of these varied projects involved fitting desire into reality. When asked how he balanced creativity with government regulations, he said “I believe it takes greater creativity to do something unique and special within code restrictions.”
After graduating from Waiakea High in 1986, Rob first attended Monterey Peninsula College, but transferred to California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo when he found out that Cal Poly had one of the top architecture programs in the country. After his first year of college he worked at the Hilo architecture firm of a family friend, James McKeague, who solidified his dreams of becoming an architect.
Rob recalls that in high school, he wasn’t a very good student and didn’t take school seriously so he had to work very hard to get to where he is today. He also reflected back upon how Waiakea was never able to beat Kona in football.
Rob gives this advice to aspiring architects: ”Draw daily, observe your surroundings, and travel. Appreciate the uniqueness in all you encounter. Work hard and be passionate about what you do.”