Ward Friszolowski has spent nearly three decades in public service, alongside a highly successful architectural career at Harvard Jolly Architecture. That unique hybrid position, as both a professional and a politician, has earned him the title "Citizen Architect" by the American Institute of Architects in 2018. Serving on the St. Pete Beach City Commission and subsequently as mayor of St. Pete Beach, Friszolowski has been a constant in both St. Pete Beach politics and the regionally-focused Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council for most of the last 30 years.
Years in St. Pete
32 years. But my grandparents lived in St. Pete Beach, so I came here as a little boy and visited them since the late '60s.
Organizations involved in
American Institute of Architects, City Commissioner of St. Pete Beach, Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council, St. Pete Chamber of Commerce.
What gets you out of bed every day?
It's an exciting life. My passion is architecture. That's what I went to school for, so I'm a registered architect in the state of Florida. I also got involved in the community at an early age. Never thought I'd be involved in politics, because I started out on a city board and then the opportunity came up to run for office. A two year term turned into four years and six years and eight years, and then I became mayor for eight years.
Why St. Pete?
St. Pete really started for me because I came here to visit my grandparents who lived here on St. Pete Beach and as a young boy I always thought, "What a great place." I saw the potential and it seems like it's taken 30 years for everyone else to see the potential. But that's what makes me really excited, it's not surprising to me that young professionals would rather be here than in Tampa right now. It used to not be that way 20 years ago.
What is one habit that you keep?
I like running. I started running in high school competitively and college competitively. I know a lot of people don't like running, but for me it's one of those things that I just feel good when I get out and run and get the blood flowing and oxygen going, and the heart pumping and sweating. Once you get to a point where you're in shape, you sorta coast and I kind of organize my day and think about things. I just feel better, I feel ironically less tired, I sleep better, I eat better. I think everything functions better.
who are some people that influence you?
My parents, I learned a lot from them, just basic honesty and integrity and hard work and passion for what you do. At Harvard Jolly, Bill Harvard and other architects. Yann Weymouth, an internationally famous architect that's been living in St. Pete Beach for a number of years now. He designed the Dali Museum, and helped design the Louvre in Paris, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington.
What is one piece of insight - a book, methodology, practice - that you would share with our readers?
I would say that I say this to my younger family members and younger people at our firm. Just follow your passion and enjoy what you're doing. Two of my nephews just started in architectural school, so the advice I gave to them is just make sure you're having a good time because you're going to do it for a long time.
What is one thing you wish you knew about your work 3 years ago?
One thing I have learned is that the learning never stops. There's always something new to learn and you have to kind of acknowledge that - you don't know everything. Don't be afraid to accept that fact.
I try to keep an open mind. Right now I feel really good about the position our architectural firm is in. We're never complacent at what we do, so we stay passionate, keep the pedal to the metal in terms of working hard. Politically, I'm really happy being back in office.