Huntsville Center employee honored as USACE Architect of the Year

U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville
Published Oct. 11, 2013
James Clark

James Clark

A U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville has employee received special recognition from Headquarters, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

James Clark, an architect in the Huntsville Center Architectural Branch, Civil Structures Division, in the Engineering Directorate, was named the USACE Architect of the Year for his leadership of a diverse technical team in support of the Huntsville Center Centers of Standardization for Child Development and School Age Centers, Physical Fitness, and Directorate of Emergency Services Facilities and Fire Stations. Clark is also recognized for his mentoring high school and college students toward careers in architecture and promoting events for his local chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

“I feel honored to be selected as the USACE Architect of the Year. There are many talented and hard working architects across the Corps of Engineers, and I feel very privileged to be this year’s winner. I try to do my best to improve the facilities for our extraordinary men and women who serve in the Armed Forces,” Clark said. “I think it also reflects on the quality and expertise that makes Huntsville Center the agency of choice.”

Clark was selected from several outstanding nominations submitted from other Corps organizations. He said he was surprised when he learned that he had won, but those who know him and work with him weren’t the least bit surprised.

“Jay’s customers love working with him, and he produces exceptional work, particularly on figuring out ways to get things done. His behind the scene work ranges from developing the technical portion of the furnishings program back at the beginning of the program to developing many standards and previous standard designs. He is now the project architect on COS interfacing with HQUSACE and the other COSes,” said Todd DuVernay, chief, Architectural Branch. “Jay’s efforts over the years and this year have added value to many programs--it was easy to think of nominating him for the Architect of the Year Award.”

Jelani Ingram, architect, Architectural Branch and Vernon Petty, project manager, Installation Support and Programs Management Directorate, agree with Duvernay's assessment.

Petty said Clark is a trailblazer.

“Jay has always been easy to work with, positive, responsive and will follow through on running down any problems or issues,” Petty said. “I have worked with him for more than 20 years at Huntsville Center. He helped develop the initial designs for the Child Development Centers worldwide. He was on the Centers of Standardization Project Delivery Team in Huntsville Center when it began.”

Ingram said Clark is a mentor.

“Jay has been an inspiration to work within the Architectural Branch. His extensive knowledge as the subject matter expert of Child Development Centers and Physical Fitness Facilities has made him a key component to the Corps’ success in these facility types,” Ingram said. “His many years with the Corps give him a unique perspective and make him an invaluable asset to other architects and engineers within the Engineering Directorate.”

Clark started his career in the summer of 1982 as a summer hire student at the Corps’ Tulsa District in Tulsa, Okla. He worked the following two summers in this position. When he graduated with a masters degree in 1985, he was brought on as a temporary architect. Within a year, he was promoted to a permanent architect position. In 1989, he accepted his current position with Huntsville Center.

“To date, this is my greatest career accomplishment. I have been fortunate to be selected as HNC Employee of the Year a couple of times, but to be selected from the entire community of architects throughout the Corps of Engineers is quite a distinction,” Clark said.

But most noteworthy of Clark’s accomplishments according to his nomination is that Clark is known worldwide as an authority on CDCs and is a source of information to both the proponent and any installation/designer responsible for a CDC design-construction or operation. DuVernay said Clarks works to improve on the capability to design military facilities.

Clark supports USACE Campaign Plan Goal 4: Prepare for Tomorrow. On a regular basis, he mentors and develops high school and college students starting their careers in architecture. He also promotes his career field whenever he can. This can be seen by his numerous contributions to the community including his work with the City of Decatur, Ala., and promotion of events for the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects and other local training.

Clark said it has taken hard work and dedication to achieve this honor but says he hasn’t done it alone. It took team effort.

“Even though this is an individual award, it represents the accomplishments of many,” Clark said. “I'd like to give credit to my parents for supporting me through six years of architectural school. I'd like to thank my wife and children for their support over the years, and not groaning too much when I'd say...”Let's go see THAT building". And I'd like to thank all the other people throughout my life: family, co-workers, supervisors, teachers, friends and acquaintances, who have taught me to always do my best and that hard work does pay off.”

His advice to other architects is very simple and straightforward.

“I have worked with our interns and new architects. My advice on being an architect in the current environment is that you have to be creative, not only in finding efficient and unique solutions to a building need, but also in the way an architect can provide value in non-traditional roles through the training they have received to become an architect,” Clark said. “And finally, always live architecture. No matter where you are or what you're doing, take a moment to observe and relate to your surroundings, from the big picture all the way down to minute details, and use the experience to enhance the environment you design.”

Clark is a member of the Decatur Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.