Alumni Highlight: Jeremy Carlisle, Construction Science

Describe your current role at GH2 Architects:

As an associate principal for GH2 Architects I am responsible for providing world-class service for our wide variety of clients, as well as leading our team members in the delivery of architectural design services from project conception through project closeout.  In addition, I am a licensed landscape architect and direct our landscape architecture services—providing a full range of site design services for a variety of project types, including: parks and recreation, education, hospitality, civic, and commercial.  By virtue of my graduate education at OU, I also serve as our in-house cost estimator, working closely with all design staff throughout the project life cycle ensuring projects align with budgetary limits.  This allows me to stay involved in most every project associated with our firm, which provides a tremendous opportunity to develop relationships with all our professionals, which in turn greatly aids my ability to grow as a professional within our firm. 

What is your favorite thing about your job?

The people—I am extremely grateful for the friendships developed with colleagues and clients.  I am also passionate about design and construction and enjoy the ability to have multiple projects on-going at various phases of each.  The desire to improve with every project and provide solutions for our clients is extremely exciting. 

Describe your day-to-day

One of the unique aspects of my position is that I do not have a typical day-to-day.  The ability to instantly change course unexpectedly multiple times per day is paramount to provide exceptional client service—and that’s what we are all about.  Our business hours are 8am-5pm, but this industry is a way of life—it is not a job.  That said, I have a beautiful wife and two sons that I also prioritize daily.  Here’s a snapshot of what one day may look…  

6:15-7:15am – wake; check email and respond to anything critical; pack lunches for my boys and see them and my wife off to school. 

7:30-8:30am – arrive in office; MAKE COFFEE; respond to emails (this is on-going for every waking hour of the day).  

8:30-10:30am – create ‘project A’ design development estimate. 

10:30am-1:00pm – attend ‘project B’ construction progress meeting on-site. 

1:00-3:00pm – attend ‘project C’ design meeting. 

3:00-4:00pm – redline progress set for ‘project D’. 

4:00-5:00pm – attend in-house design review for ‘project E’. 

5:00-7:30pm – coach elementary football practice. 

7:30-11:00pm – dinner/ family time; respond to emails. 

What made you want to go into your respective field?

From the time I was 12 I wanted to be an architect to impact our built environment and learn how things go together OR enter sports medicine to develop highly skilled athletes.  In high school I took an Anatomy and Physiology course where I was exposed to human cadavers… architecture here I come!  At Kansas State, where I did my undergraduate studies, all first-year students studied together and were introduced to architecture, landscape architecture, and interior design.  After receiving this exposure, I was most inspired by the potential of the landscape architecture profession and its ability to transform communities into places where people truly want to live, work, and play.  After working professionally for a year, I felt to attain the career I truly desired I needed to fill the construction management gaps in my undergraduate education.  I come from a long line of Sooners, and dreamed of going to OU, so it was an easy choice given the exceptional quality of our Construction Science program. 

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

During the spring semester and summer of my 4th year in school, I had an internship with a great 80-person design firm in St. Louis.  The experience was invaluable, and inspirational in two very significant ways:  1) we designed beautiful long-term master plans that were going to take decades to develop, if they happened at all.  I learned that I preferred to be more engaged in the construction process and have projects constructed.  2) Due to the economic downturn following 9/11, the firm experienced a significant layoff while I was there (I was cheap labor, so I kept my position).  I have had a much more humble and intense work ethic ever since.   

What experiences at the Gibbs College of Architecture contributed to your success?

The professional experience that my professors brought to the classroom everyday was invaluable.  The lessons and practices were always developed to simulate a real-life application which allowed me to step into a firm and provide value as a project manager immediately.  I will always be thankful for the sincere interest the professors had in forming relationships with students and building a foundation in which students could construct successful careers.  They continuously went above and beyond to connect students with potential employers (who were often former students).  I was also extremely grateful for the opportunity to work as a graduate assistant, which greatly reduced my loan debt and afforded me the opportunity to focus my efforts on my education.  

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

Far and away my favorite memory is meeting my future bride.  Next would have to be my team receiving a zero during a simulated project bid opening because we failed to place our bid package in the designated box (it was set on the table next to the box).  It was a very valuable lesson in fully reading and applying project requirements. 

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

Be humble.  Accept seemingly minuscule tasks with enthusiasm.  There is no substitute for hard work and great effort.  This industry is complex and ever-changing, and the most successful professionals understand that the opportunities to learn are endless.   

Questions submitted by students:

What made you decide to go to grad school?

After working a year professionally following my undergraduate degree, I felt the need to expand my knowledge base to include construction management so I could better position myself for the multifaceted career I truly desired.

What was your undergraduate experience like studying Landscape Architecture?

Looking back, my undergraduate experience was excellent, though at the time it felt arduous.  The program was rigorous and required frequent sleepless nights and missed holidays.  The primary difference I notice compared to today’s programs (besides the advancements in technology) is the number of group projects—nearly all projects were done individually.

What is your favorite project you’ve worked on? 

This is a moving target because it’s always the project that is freshest.  The recently completed Holland Hall Wellness Center and Campus Green stands out because it is such a progressive project for K-12 education.  It highlights physical health and quality gathering space as critical elements in the development of young people.

How did you get your job with GH2?

I was first introduced to GH2 at our career fair. I was drawn to the leadership and incredible historic preservation and equine projects. After interviewing in the Tulsa office, I knew it was a special opportunity and received an offer on my drive back to OU. We had 10 full-time professionals at that time and have grown to over 60!

Should freshman students start studying for licensure or when is a good time to start doing that?

Not in my opinion – immerse yourself in the program, this should keep you busy enough! Familiarize yourself with the process and requirements but studying specifically for licensure exams can begin after graduation.

What things do you always have with you when working?

Felt tip pens, notebook, trace paper, scale, TI-83 calculator, iPhone.

Editor’s Note: We would like to give a big thank you to Jeremy for taking the time to answer our questions and give us a look into his life post-GCA. For a behind-the-scenes look, check out his story takeover in the highlights on our Instagram!