For some, work is a calling. "I believe energy-efficient, healthy, durable, easy-to-maintain, low-operating-cost, people-friendly, and sustainable buildings that are designed, built, and marketed in such a manner can be a win-win situation for everybody involved in the project and the community at large–forever," says Jeffrey G. Ross-Bain, who in April became the associate in charge for high-performance building systems at Smith Dalia Architects in Atlanta.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish in your new role? A: To introduce the concept of high-performance building design on a practical, pragmatic, and economically feasible level. Often, this concept is referred to as green, environmental, or sustainable design, but I prefer the term high-performance and often like to refer to it as "good" design. Q: After the economy, what do you see as a challenge for the industry this year? A: I believe that multifamily projects need to start addressing broader community issues such as open space, walkable environments, access to amenities, and general quality of life issues that surround the development. Many developments today pay much more attention to automobile movement than to people.
Q: What was your first job in the multifamily industry? A: My first project was a college dormitory. I enjoyed working on the project because it included a geothermal heat pump system of approximately 50 tons. The higher initial costs were recouped in three to seven years, and the energy savings continue to this day.
Q: What do you enjoy about working in the multifamily industry? A: Professionally, the multifamily industry offers significant opportunity for innovative design and solutions to complex issues. I am a strong proponent of resurrecting the art of architecture and engineering, and I feel multifamily projects uniquely afford this potential. On a social level, I believe that multifamily developments can revitalize communities and reverse the post-World War II development sprawl that can result in a disconnected community.
Q: How would you describe the multifamily industry's career opportunities? A: I would highly encourage architects and engineers to develop the specific skills associated with multifamily to deliver a comprehensive service to their clients. With those in place, career opportunities will be plentiful as society begins to comprehend the benefits of multifamily living.