Pilar Anastasio, Director of Architecture at Quark

Today we meet Pilar Anastasio, Director of Architecture at Quark. Find out all about her career, day-to-day life and what's to come.

Pilar Anastasio started her career as an intern in the design department of Sener and ended up as Quark's Director of Architecture. Read on to find out more about her career, the projects she has worked on and what we can expect from the data centre market in the future.

What inspired you to pursue a career in architecture?

I am an architect and have always wanted to be one. From a very young age, I drew on almost every surface I could get my hands on, even on the walls at home.

As I grew up, it never occurred to me to choose another career. It was clear to me that I was a scientist: I still remember Latin lessons with horror, but mathematics and physics alone were not enough.

Architecture is the balance between art and science, it takes all the disciplines of human development, puts them in a blender and makes them work together. Art, science and technology. It's the most fun you can have. I enjoy the challenges it presents and instinctively, like all architects, I always end up trying to explain things through drawing.

How did you come to Quark?

Fate brought me to Quark.  When I finished my degree, I felt that architecture, as it is commonly understood, was missing something. I thought that architecture was not just about making beautiful drawings, so I did a Masters in Project Management, worked in small studios and ended up doing an internship at Sener, in the design department.

Thanks to this, I started working for Rafael de la Hoz for many years, which opened my eyes to a wider world where costs, deadlines and team management became more and more important. Coordinating the different disciplines involved in a building made more and more sense. Later, working in an international company, I realised that there was another world beyond the Pyrenees.

At this point, I was ready for another qualitative leap, and Quark came along. A new project and a new market (data centres: such peculiar buildings, with so many facilities and various peculiarities), with new challenges and the best atmosphere in the market, thanks to my bosses. It was impossible not to join Quark.

What is your business area and what do you do? What is your day like? 

I am the head of architecture. Over the years at Quark, as the company grew, we went from a very horizontal structure to a more complex one. Those of us who have been with the company longer have taken on new responsibilities.

My day-to-day work involves a lot of collaboration and teamwork, whether in meetings, dealing with requests from colleagues, or exchanging emails and phone calls. This is important to keep in touch with the team on a day-to-day basis, to keep an overview of how each project is progressing and to be able to clarify doubts or help the rest of the team with my experience.

I have not completely abandoned the design part and I like to start the projects by deciding, together with my electrical and mechanical colleagues, the starting points for the new work. One of these bases is, of course, the architectural design, because although we specialise in data centres, clients are increasingly demanding that their buildings be representative and of a quality comparable to that of the finest residential buildings.

How have you progressed since joining Quark and what are the most prominent projects you are currently working on?

When I joined Quark, the company had a small team and with my previous experience, I was able to work with my colleagues to develop the architectural projects and coordinate the structure of the buildings. Drafting and reviewing plans, reports, specifications and all the necessary documents for the approval or execution of projects. I was also responsible for liaising with local councils.

As Quark grew and more architects, more juniors, joined the company, the tasks were distributed and my role became more focused on managing and reviewing the work of my colleagues than on execution, although I have never given up the latter facet.

I think the most interesting projects are those that challenge us to do new things.

Those that involve working in new countries and those that make us look at how data centres will change when they are dedicated to hosting very high density AI servers, for example.

How do you think the projects you work on impact the current/future world or society?

For the better, I think data centres are essential infrastructure in a digital economy and high-tech society. Our daily lives and lifestyles would be impossible without them.  There is a debate about the role of data centres and their energy needs: the demand for these infrastructures is bringing them to the attention of the general public, who are not yet familiar with all the particularities of such a complex and nuanced sector. And this is a good thing: data centres are pioneers in the search for alternative energy sources, environmental quality labels such as LEED or Breeam, and in trying to be "carbon neutral" and "0 waste". In Spain, many of these concepts are not usually used, and the fact that our customers are largely from the Anglo-Saxon world, where the sector is generally more mature, helps us to innovate in the Spanish market and be prepared to compete globally.

It is important that we are all aware of the need to protect our planet, but we must be aware that we cannot renounce technological progress and the social benefits that it brings: we must seek a balance, perfectly represented by data centres and the efforts that the sector is making to achieve a sustainable model.

How do you keep up with general knowledge and trends in your sector?

We are fortunate in that our projects always require the application of new technologies, in every sense of the word. Part of Quark's DNA is to innovate and offer differentiated services; on the other hand, it is our clients who guide us in the implementation of the technologies we apply to their buildings. Each customer has their own standards, and this forces us to adapt to different ways of understanding buildings.

We are constantly innovating: just when we think we have mastered a particular technology, the industry changes and demands new ones. The same goes for the programmes and software we use every day: they change or we can get more and more out of them. In addition, in recent years we have gone from carrying out projects in Spain to meeting the needs of more international clients. 

The trend has always been, and will continue to be, one of constant change, because this sector implements every new technology as soon as it is ready. The search for efficiency and service to society is what leads to constant change.

What do you think differentiates Sener from its competitors?

Sener's acquisition of Quark is recent, so I have not had the opportunity to meet many of their people, but our brief interaction has shown me that the great professionals and dedication they have shown must be a big part of their success.

In that sense, Quark shares the same spirit and principles.

Since its inception, Quark has maintained the benefits of small teams: cohesion, flexibility, a sense of belonging. .... Advantages that I am sure we will maintain as we integrate into Sener. I take it for granted that all engineering companies have great professionals, but I believe it is the people that make up Quark that distinguish us from other data centre engineering companies, as well as our commitment to the projects and the client. It's our passion and dedication to helping our clients get what they need that keeps them coming back.

What new challenges do you see for yourself in the medium term?

At Quark, the challenge that we are beginning to face and that will change us in the medium term is the internationalisation and growth of the company. It will be a big challenge to maintain the Quark spirit as we grow. Having new offices in several countries and maintaining unity will be a challenge. Both from a human point of view and in terms of standardisation criteria for our projects: we are aware that all Quark projects must maintain the same quality standards. But I think we are lucky that we are now part of Sener, which has done all these steps before, and we can feel that their support with their experience is fundamental.

We are fortunate to have wonderful bosses who inspire us and are an indispensable help to those of us who started together. So, together with my fellow directors Francesc Galobardes, Siddharta Aldavero and Javier Martínez, we are all taking small steps, day by day, to work with Sener on the future of Quark.

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