Getting to Know the Players / Take One
Interview by Fred Schmidt
I thought it would be interesting from time to time to introduce you to some of the project players. That way you can get to know various members of the team, what they do and also get a different perspective of the project. Today I am talking to Jason Holuby, Project Manager for the Visitor Center, architect, LEED accredited professional and FSB Senior Associate.
What were your thoughts when you first learned about the project and that you would be working on it?
Jason: Once we kind of started getting into figuring out what the project was all about, it was pretty exciting. Getting to do a project that is high design is very neat. It’s just one of those kinds of projects that do not come around frequently. That was probably the most exciting thing. Plus the Native American side of it, being a Native American and wanting to work for a Native American tribe. My schedule was packed full, but I was going to do whatever it took to get a chance to work on this project.
What is your role on this project?
Jason: Obviously, I am the Project Manager but as you know my primary responsibilities are being the Point of Contact for the team. My ultimate responsibility along with you is for the success of the project. It’s basically managing the team on a daily basis making sure we are making the right decisions for the owner. To make sure their expectations are met and that our own expectations of quality documents and quality design are met. Additional tasks of meeting the project schedule and maintaining the project budget. And (kiddingly) beating up on the team on occasion.
What was your career path that brought you to this point, this project?
Jason: Well, I started here at FSB as intern architect, eventually moved to Project Architect working on putting the parts and pieces together, very involved in the construction documents and coordination of the project team. Then, eventually to Project Manager.
Did you always know you were going to be an architect?
Jason: Oh, even going back that far. No, I didn’t at all. When I started college my major was chemical engineering / pre-med and had no idea, never even considered architecture. One of the guys that lived on my dorm room floor that I got to be pretty good friends with was in architecture school. After most of the first year, I figured out that chemical engineering is not where I was meant to be. And he sort of figured that architecture was not where he was meant to be. In growing up, I was always artistic, entered a lot of painting and drawing contests and was also pretty good in math, science all those things. It just sort of hit me. So in conversation, he said he was ready to get out and I was ready to get out and he said he would sell me his architecture supplies for 25% of what he bought them for if I was interested. I started thinking about it and everything hit all at once and I decided to give it a try. Boy, I would never look back; it was absolutely perfect for me.
Did you give your friend all your chemistry books in trade? (laugh)
What are your thoughts about this project? You’ve talked about when you first learned you would be working on it and all, but what do you think about the project in general?
Jason: Well I think it’s an exciting project. Some of the things I really like about it are the strong ties to the park, the materials and that we ended up with a solution that tied it to both the Chickasaw Nation’s buildings and the historic park structures; kind of a more contemporary version of all those things. The materials are going to look really sharp. I really wish we had been able to stick with LEED platinum, but LEED gold is really a big achievement too. That’s probably been one of the biggest challenges of the project even going back to the early concepts, integrating all of the LEED aspects of the project. And making sure all the mechanical and electrical fits in; maintaining the design to be an integrated solution.
What do you see as one of the greatest project challenges for you? What floats to the top?
Jason: For me personally? It goes back to the LEED aspects as one of the bigger challenges for the project as a whole and integrating all those things. And that every detail is considered from an appearance standpoint; doing things the way that this project really deserves. For me, working with a new client is a bit of a challenge. Getting a feel for their decision making process, their thoughts and feelings. I see myself as their advocate here in the office. Making sure decisions are made the way they want. Making sure we understand. Initially we had a pretty good idea of their priorities and how they see different issues. Just figuring out what the Chickasaw Nation is all about.
We all know that projects don’t happen without a client. They are the reason the project exists; the ones with the vision. How would you characterize the client?
Jason: I think they are really good to work with. They are great at getting us answers to questions that we need. I really appreciate the fact that they want things done the right way, correctly. You know the cheapest option is not always the answer; it’s what makes the best long term sense. It’s nice to work with a group who really gets it. Everything that they do, they do well.
Are you familiar with the FSB Blog?
Yea, (laughing) I am.
So what do you think about it?
Jason: I think it’s a really neat thing. You know, you and I have talked about it but the whole idea being that there’s not many people outside of our business that understand what we do or how a project comes together from beginning to end. I think that’s really neat to have a historical timeline that anyone can go back to, basically to day one, and go thru eventually the end of the project and see how this whole thing developed. It’s a pretty representative project for the process of what we do.
Sounds like you’ve been reading the blog.
Jason: I have been reading the blog and I have sent it on to my in-laws and they’re really interested in it.
So, you get some good feedback?
Jason: I really do. They say it’s helped them understand what I do. I think it’s a great tool and great for the project.
We’ll get back together down the road and discuss completing the documents and beginning construction. It will be interesting to this project get out of the ground.
Jason: I’m ready. This is going to be a really neat project when everything is all said and done.
The shoe was on the other foot last week when FSB was interviewed about the Chickasaw Visitor Center and the FSB Blog by Brianna Bailey of the Journal Record. The article was published May 17, 2012.