Why did you join AIA Seattle?

I love architecture and the built environment. I love the collaboration with architects that I achieve through my involvement with AIA Seattle.

Building relationships is key to the success of a sub-consultant engineering firm. What better way to meet and get to know my architectural clients than to work side-by-side with them on the board. I obtained an even broader respect for what architects do and how they impact day-to-day life through their design and conviction. It has been an awesome experience.

What is the value of AIA to you?

It allows me to see and understand, first hand, key issues in our community through a different lens. Architects are leaders in our community. Working alongside them in this organization has opened my eyes about the true value of design.

What relationships have you created?

I have developed lifelong relationships with some of the most inspirational architects in our community. They are in big firms, smaller firms, or sole practitioners. I have also had the opportunity to connect with our elected officials. Priceless!

What project are you working on now?

Swenson Say Fagét’s success has stemmed from providing unique structural engineering solutions for a very wide variety of project types, from commercial, public, educational, and historic to multi-family to single-family residential. Current projects include: Alaska State Capitol Seismic/Historic Renovation in Juneau, City of Seattle’s new North Police Precinct, dozens of multi-family/mixed use and hospitality projects in the greater Seattle and Portland markets, adaptive Re-Use projects throughout the city, several Microsoft TI’s in Redmond, single-family residential projects, from multi-million dollar new projects to seismic retrofits of 800 SF homes in Phinney Ridge.

How do you explain what you do for a living?

Simply stated, I make sure buildings don’t fall down. However I think we are more than that. We are an essential component to a team of professionals that ensures that buildings are safe for the public. We have to look at “What happens if…”. When it comes to renovating old buildings I like to think that when the job is done nobody knows we were there…our “Leave No Trace” philosophy.

What inspired you today?

Our clients and our team. We work with some of the most talented architects, contractors and developers in the Northwest. We work hard to build and maintain those relationships. In conjunction with that, we have an amazing and unique group of engineers that are responsive and creative. I am inspired every morning when I come into work.

Has your career taken you anywhere you didn’t expect?

Yes, when you have been in this business long enough, you get a lot of interesting requests. Engineering affects so much. I have designed camp stools, art installations and the occasional dog house… some of them pretty complex.

Where is the field of architecture, engineering or construction headed?

I find that there is more collaboration with AEC teams now than ever before. I see the influence of the contractor growing, and along with that more design/build projects. I think that our collective disciplines have matured and the role of technology has brought us closer together. I look forward to what this will bring in the future. Can design save the world? I hope so.

What do you hope to contribute from your work?

In addition to serving on the AIA and DIP Boards, I have served on the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation Board of Directors from 2006 to present. From my initial induction to engineering, I have always been involved with the renovation and adaptive reuse of existing structures. I truly enjoy being a part of these projects that help to retain the historic fabric of our cities and neighborhoods. I hope that we can save treasured places or repurpose them to current times. I love buildings, all of them.

What is your favorite Seattle-area structure?

My favorite building is the Pacific Medical Center on Beacon Hill. I grew up on Beacon Hill. Right around Thanksgiving every year a glowing star is mounted on top of the building to celebrate Christmas. I remember that from my childhood and it made that building so memorable for me. I ultimately did get to work on the building earlier in my career and it is something I will carry with me forever. My wife and children hear this story every time we see Pac Med.

If you could sum up your outlook on life in a bumper sticker, what would it say?

Wanted: An Ultimate Moment (a little play on engineering but truly applicable in the way I look at life day to day).

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