Part problem-solver, part fireman…All architect: Good attitude, lots of experience make for fun, creative design projects
Jeff Seabold believes in the power of positive thinking, and he uses that philosophy in approaching the architectural dilemmas he’s often called on to resolve.
“I used to joke that I draw pretty pictures for a living, and I also put out fires,” Seabold said. “Creative problem solving is the day-to-day basis of architecture. That’s what you do… There’s no problem that can’t be solved through design.”
Another design approach came to him on one of his daily runs. His theory is that sometimes moving forward first requires going backward. This line of thinking came during a run when his keys and phone were stuck inside a pouch with a zipper that wouldn’t budge.
“But before I cut it, I thought, I’ll just try zipping it all the way back up – which didn’t make sense for me to do — but I did, and that freed the fabric, and I was able to unzip it all the way.”
Seabold said the same theory fits architectural work. He cited a project that involved a 105-year-old home in Belhaven, where contractors found several levels of floor in the kitchen.
“We kind of had that jaw-dropping moment,” he said. “This was a huge problem, but with the miracle of technology and the right tools, it was not as bad as we thought. We took it back as far as possible, and found that the best way to go was to pull out the flooring and start over.”
Another project was an Eastover home that had been remodeled several times.
“Our idea was to take back some of the work that had been done by previous owners and reclaim the space for this family,” Seabold said. “We needed to present one unified idea to move the house forward.”
Even Seabold’s entry into architecture was initially a step back. His first design project came when the Yacht Club was destroyed in a 2002 fire. As general manager and chef, Seabold was asked to design the new kitchen. That was his only design project until he moved to Oxford with plans to attend law school.
Architect friends in Oxford suggested Seabold try design, and he eventually returned to school and earned a degree in architecture from Mississippi State. He worked at two firms before establishing Seabold Architectural Studio.
“This is just where I needed to be,” he said. “My father’s an attorney in Memphis, and that was just going to be the easy way. I like the politics of law and the interpretation, I just needed something more creative — I needed an outlet.”
Hometown: Grew up in Memphis, lives in Jackson
High school: Graduated in 1992 from Briarcrest Christian School in Memphis
College: Bachelor’s degrees in history in 1996 from Millsaps College and in architecture in 2002 from Mississippi State University
Key to success: “If you are positive and excited about what you’re doing, good things will happen — people will pick up on that. Cynicism and pessimism breed more negativity. We’ve all got to move in a more positive direction to better ourselves, to be better people and to be a better state.”
Coolest thing you’ve ever done: “For my life, it was the birth of my son, and running a 50-mile race was pretty life-changing. From a professional standpoint, working with Felder Rushing on the Green Roof Arbor was a meaningful project and a whole lot of fun.”