Alumni Highlight: Weldon Bowman, Urban Design

As part of our efforts to highlight and learn more about the amazing work our alumni are doing, this week we talked to Urban Design Studio alumnus Weldon Bowman! Weldon graduated from the Christopher C. Gibbs College of Architecture in 2001 with a degree in Architecture and then went on to earn his masters from the OU Urban Design Studio in 2003. He now owns his own firm, W Design, which was recently awarded AIA Eastern Oklahoma Firm of the Year. We picked his brain to learn more about his experience as a GCA student and what he has been up to since graduating.

Describe your current role:   

As the owner of W Design, my role consists of anything and everything that needs to be done.  

Examples of projects you are working on right now or have worked on in the past:  

Current Project:   

Christ the Redeemer – Masterplan, Addition and Renovation.  Tulsa, OK. 

American Solera Brewery – Renovation.  Tulsa, OK 

Completed Project:   

Schuessler Orthodontics – New Build.  Stillwater, OK 

Consumer Affairs – Interior Renovation of top 3 floors.  Tulsa, OK 

Firstar Bank – Tulsa Headquarters – Tulsa, OK. 

Petroleum Equipment Institute – Tulsa, OK. 

What is your favorite thing about your job?   

I have a dream job, so I have many favorites.  

The W Design team is a favorite. There’s nothing more satisfying than working with my peers that continue to inspire me, working with people that I would consider my closest friends, and seeing each person pursue their dreams and feeling accomplished. 

The pursuit of new projects and being awarded as their Architect is always a high-rush. It’s those very moments that fuel the fire to push me to work harder, and gives me the confidence I need in order to know we are worthy to be the architects of this generation. 

Being an architect, I’m able to see our immediate impact on the community and the place-making we create for cities. Being able to drive around and see that impact is probably my favorite thing about my job. 

Describe your day-to-day:  

I like to call it “work-fest.” 

My day to day consists of meetings, texts, meetings, e-mails, driving, marketing, design, business development, repeat. 

What made you want to go in to Urban Design?  

As I was wrapping up my undergraduate in Architecture and had determined I was moving back to Tulsa, I began searching for a Master’s program. I had a thirst for knowledge, I was physically and emotionally conditioned to a hard-work ethic coming from my undergraduate, I wanted to make myself more marketable for future employers, and it could open up future doors of becoming a college professor. But most importantly, it was self-fulfillment and self-worth.    

During my research of different Masters programs in Tulsa, I was introduced to Shawn Schaefer and the OU Urban Design Studio. I had an immediate connection with Shawn and his program offered a holistic view on architecture, which seemed to be the perfect fit for me.  

What is something that inspired you as a student or early on in your career?   

i.e. person, project, building, place, experience, etc.   

As a student, I was inspired by all architecture, not just one building or person. There was so much to learn, so much to fear, so much beauty to be a part of, that it was all-inspiring throughout college.    

Similar to career life.  There is constant inspiration to achieve more, to do things I’ve never done before, design against new challenges, to learn further, and see others achieve their success.   

What is one of your favorite memories from being a student in the College of Architecture?  

Easy.  It was the life-long friendships I made during my 5 years as a student. I wouldn’t say I enjoyed the late nights at the studios working on deadlines, but rather it was my colleagues that made those times memorable. It was the “breakfast club” for architectural students. Looking back, I could have accomplished so much more without the interruptions of playing hacky sack in the South Oval (and getting our pictures taken for the OU paper, while giving fake names…and my mother still has the newspaper clipping on her wall with my name labeled as “Weldon Capri”…because oddly enough I was wearing capri pants on that day…and probably was my last time to wear them). 

What is the biggest piece of advice you would give to Urban Design students or recent grads?   

Be patient. Be passionate. Learn all that you can learn. Be focused and communicative with people. Be committed to a cause and loyal to your team. Be punctual. And most importantly, ask questions and be thorough.

Editor’s Note: We would like to give a big thank you to Weldon for taking the time to answer our questions and give us a look into his life post-GCA.