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Tompkins Barron turns attention to ‘sensitive’ projects

Jackson — William P. “Bill” Tompkins’ experience not only as an architect, but as a man with some 24 years in the Army and National Guard — including a year of service during Desert Storm — made him a logical choice for business and government entities to call on for consulting and design work to guard against terrorism following September 11, 2001.

This was just the latest addition to the achievements of Tompkins and the firm he founded in 1983, Tompkins Barron, PLLC.

Rick Barron, an architect, joined the firm in 1993. Five years ago, an engineering dimension was added when Tony Carr (electrical) and Genene Johnston (mechanical) started work there.

“Primarily, we work in the areas of the military, public buildings and schools,” Tompkins said.

The Mississippi Emergency Operations Center, at the Fire Academy in Jackson, is a current project. “This is a sensitive building because of antiterrorism considerations,” he said.

Tompkins Barron has been involved with maintenance, research and office buildings at NASA and some of the larger National Guard armories — Canton, Gulfport, Senatobia, Vicksburg — as well as STARC headquarters. The firm drew up the master plan for construction at Mississippi College and has worked on the new men’s residence hall, the new women’s residence hall, existing residence hall renovations and the student union and cafeteria renovations.

The firm worked on the S.V. Marshall, Dana Road Elementary, Sherman Avenue and William Winans schools, Head Starts in Natchez, Liberty, Greenville, Centerville and Gloster and schools in Holmes County. In Kosciusko, Tompkins Barron was involved in the construction of city hall.

“What I like about my work is meeting with people and making sure they’re satisfied with the end process,” Tompkins said. “I like to involve clients in the whole process, in any issues that might come up, try to solve problems up front. We do design work with the owner, not just for the owner.”

The owner is involved in the whole process, in what is called “program building,” providing total services, he said.

“We work with the owner, get to know his needs, the size of the structure, the number of rooms, the availability of the financial backing and the time frame before and during work.”
Tompkins Barron’s services include: architecture, cost estimating, energy analysis, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, construction administration/field observation, master planning and interior design.

On most jobs in which Tompkins Barron is involved, jobs in which the contract is bid out, “We don’t actually supervise the construction. We’re not actually on site all the time. The contractor does that. But we do inspect the work. We’re quality control.”

Being a veteran of years in the military helped Tompkins when businesses became concerned with the threat of terrorism. (“I also took lots of continuing education in that area.”) Particularly concerned were businesses with government contracts or those receiving federal money.

“We’ve done a lot of consulting work, a lot of studies, for businesses that can be vulnerable because people have complaints about how they’ve been treated, such as banks and power associations.”

Tompkins emphasized that terrorism threats don’t just come from the Middle East.

“Irate Mississippians can also commit acts of terrorism, against a bank that’s foreclosed on property or a business that denied someone what they consider an essential service.

“We’re contracted to do studies and find where a building or facility is vulnerable, if it can stand up to critical situations — a bomb, a power outage, somebody driving a car into the building.”

Tompkins Barron “understands that cost estimating is critical to a project’s success and we utilize a format, similar to ‘means,’ to ensure cost control, monitoring and a cross check to document completion.”

But cost estimating is only one part of Tompkins Barron Cost Control Plan. The other element of the plan is quality, to make certain that projects are completed within time and money. As a project evolves, proficient and cost-effective design is assured by the continued involvement of principals in each major design discipline.

Tompkins has a B.S. in architecture from Mississippi State University. He worked at Sears for several years, in store planning and design, before becoming an architect. From 1972 to 1974, he was in the Army — artillery — and retired from the National Guard “seven or eight years ago. I was called up more times than you can shake a stick at.”

Tompkins is on the Mississippi Board of Architecture.
Barron studied architecture at Louisiana Tech. He worked in Texas, then for various firms in Mississippi before joining Tompkins Barron in 1993.

Contact MBJ contributing writer at George McNeill at mbj@msbusiness.com.

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