When he was an eighth-grade student in Louisville, Jared Pierce realized he wanted to be an architect. His pre-physics teacher asked the students to fill out an interest form and without hesitation Pierce listed architect as his future profession. That dream was realized when he graduated from the Mississippi State University School of Architecture in 1999.
The son of J.L. and Francis Pierce explains his interest in architecture: “My grandfather was a carpenter and my dad had a drafting background. There were drafting tables and tools around the house when I was growing up,” he said. “My parents encouraged me to take drafting in high school, and I always enjoyed drawing things I saw.”
The 36-year-old architect is employed with the Canizaro Cawthon Davis firm in Jackson and is finishing a term as president of the Mississippi Chapter of American Institute of Architects after serving on the board of directors for eight years. “It’s been a great way to serve the profession,” he said. “I’m proud to be an architect and think we do a great service to society. We’re able to build spaces that people enjoy and that serve them.”
He says AIA helps architects by providing educational opportunities and resources. The AIA designation following an architect’s name identifies that person as registered and part of a group with a code of professional standards.
It isn’t difficult for Pierce to enumerate what he likes about his profession. “I enjoy that after spending time working on a project and finishing it, there’s a monument there to your hard work, and I have the joy of giving clients’ something they want and are excited about,” he said. “For years to come that building is there — for good or bad. The buildings I worked on are there growing older with me.”
He says the biggest challenge is balancing creativity, design styles he likes and the way he wants buildings to look with what the clients want. “But, without a doubt, it’s about fulfilling the desires and needs of clients,” he said.
These are difficult times for the construction industry with a decline in building projects for the past several years. That decline and unemployment is felt among architects, too.
“We’ve seen a drop in our AIA membership. Everyone has been hit economically with the lack of construction projects, and there is pressure to do jobs for lesser fees,” Pierce said. “A lot of projects are with the state and the state doesn’t have much money for work now. There is some federal work, but the biggest job producer for architects in Mississippi is the state.”
Statewide membership in the AIA chapter is about 350 at this time as firms are being forced to lay off employees. He sees a problem of lack of projects with residential building as well as commercial. “I have seen some small signs this year of things picking up, and our forecast is improved for next year,” he added.
On a happier note, Pierce takes pride in the projects he’s managed. Among those are the Jackson Academy Performing Arts Center, Pine Lake Church and Woman’s Hospital. “I’ve especially enjoyed working for more than a decade on various projects from designing a new campus to renovating an old book store for Pine Lake Church because I attend that church,” he said.
He has served on the project team for a number of other successful projects, including the Mississippi Children’s Museum, the B.B. King Museum and the Riveroaks Hospital in Madison.
“We’re seeing more contemporary and transitional styles than traditional, but we don’t have a particular style; we meet the needs of clients and see a wide range of styles in our projects,” Pierce said. “We are definitely seeing more interest in green architecture. As it becomes more affordable, we will see more green building. It’s more efficient and sustainable.”
Pierce has always enjoyed sports and is actively involved in coaching flag football, baseball and basketball for his twin sons’ teams. The twins, Jackson and Gavin, are six years old and little brother Trevor is three. Along with his wife, Heather, he expects to be involved with youth sports for a long time.
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