her studio with a single residential project in 2011. Since then, her firm has
grown to include commercial offices and public spaces across the continental
Growing up in Canada as the daughter of Ugandan refugees of East
Indian heritage, Khanani was aware of the opportunities her country
afforded her. “Education was a big part of growing up,” she said. “We had
opportunities that perhaps my parents didn’t or other people in our family
currently don’t have.”
Although she was raised with a wealth of opportunities, there was
pressure on Khanani to fit into a more traditional gender role that her love of
architecture didn’t fit.
She recalled, “I remember my dad saying, ‘Oh, no, no. That’s a field for men.
You’re not going to be treated equally and you shouldn’t do that. You should
definitely [go to] medical school.’ It almost made me want to do it more.”
Despite being encouraged to enter the medical profession, Khanani
remained fascinated with architecture. She attributed her attraction to the
design field to watching her mother work as an “interior decorator.” In
addition, her love of archeology developed from both her travels abroad with
her family and “of course Indiana Jones as a kid.” Khanani was enthralled
by the “mind boggling” building techniques used to construct architectural
wonders like the Taj Mahal and the Great Pyramids.
“During those younger years, I would read about Egypt and understand
that the Pharaoh had a chief architect,” she recalled. “It was this person who
was in charge of all the building of the pyramids, the temples, the sculptures.
That was a big thing that influenced me.”
Although Khanani has built her career on bold moves, she hesitated to say
they were choices. “I feel like [starting my own practice] just sort of happened,”
she said. “I think maybe I can take credit for taking a risk.”
During the economic downturn in 2008, Khanani was looking to make a
change and that eventually came in the form of old friends looking to build a
new home in New York’s Hudson Valley.
“They said, ‘Oh, we need an architect and we know you. You’re an architect,
right?’ I said, ‘Yeah, but you don’t have any idea about me.’ They were sort
of like, ‘We don’t care. We trust you.’”
She quickly made her move to follow her dreams. “Three months later,
I quit my job and moved back to the East Coast. It just kind of happened.
I never imagined myself as one to be ‘a boss,’ much less start a company.
Looking forward, I feel good about it and I hope we’re providing services
to people who are valuable and that the firm I’ve established is providing
opportunities to other people.”
➤ continued from page 88
90 interiors+sources may2018 interiorsandsources.com
The Bloc’s office is filled with
idiosyncrasies that make the location
comfortable when used and impressively
brilliant when fully understood.