Studio Sessions Vol.9

Justin White

est. March 2017

Justin “Jbox” White… the duck of i/A.  ‘A duck?!’ you say?  Yes, because like a duck he remains cool, calm, and quiet on the surface… but underneath his little paddle feet are furiously working – cranking out quality work as though he was fighting against the rapids.

Justin is also unique in that he seems to adapt incredibly well to any project or situation that he finds himself in, even at this relatively early point in his career.  Here we refer to that as a utility player – whatever the need may be, you can always throw Jbox at it and you know you can count on great work being done.

It’s now been a year since we brought Justin on board, and we can’t imagine the office without him.  So without any further ado – here is the Wild and Wonderful White of West Kentucky:

Where are you from? And how did you land in architecture?
I am from the rural unincorporated town of Flaherty, KY. It’s so small that it doesn’t have a post office. I tell anyone who asks this question that it’s close to Fort Knox (the gold vault) and Louisville (LOO-uh-vul).

I’ve always been interested in architecture. At times I feel like it chose me. Throughout my childhood, I would create paper cities, check out architecture books from the library, draw buildings, and build with Legos. Every chance I had during my education from elementary to university I would take art, landscaping, and architecture classes. These activities and interests reinforced my passion for architecture.

Where did you go to school?
I graduated from Meade County High School, went to Western Kentucky University (psychology), and graduated from the University of Kentucky with a bachelor’s and master’s of architecture.

Describe in a few sentences your role at i/A?
As an architectural associate, I work closely with project managers and principals to contribute to the design process. I often focus on generating visualizations, produce construction documents, and coordinate with contractors and vendors to find solutions to design problems. I’m also involved with the marketing team for the firm. I assist in generating outreach ideas and contribute to the studio session series. (Editor’s Note: Yes he does! And he performs that task beautifully! Thanks man!)

What’s your favorite part of the profession thus far?
What’s great about the profession is how architecture can influence all parts of society and as designers, we can learn and collaborate from a range of occupations and organizations that many other professions don’t have the opportunity to do. In my experience, having a positive impact on the built environment and people’s lives is what makes it worthwhile.

Describe a project you’ve recently worked on, its challenges, and how you learned to overcome them.
A recent project I was a part of was a “Go Time” in Haddix, Kentucky. It had a few inherent challenges as an adaptive reuse of a post-frame building. The client needed a certain amount of space for a convenience store, their corporate office, and a residence under one roof. It was interesting to go through a few space-planning exercises and determine how customers and employees would use the spaces efficiently and safely. What was challenging was how much code research was done during the early stages of the project. The original use was similar to the one being proposed but since this was not new construction we needed to figure out how to provide complete separation of the residence with the convenience store. Since the residence was above the store on another level we had to design a required fire-rated assembly that would protect it in case of a fire without altering the original frame. The finished product was amazing to see. Especially the before and after photos. Overall, it was a good exposure and experience early in my career.

What kind of project do you hope to work on in your lifetime?
When I was in college I was interested in affordable housing and cooperative housing. I would hope to work on a social housing complex by either designing a community of smaller dwellings or one building with multiple dwellings. That kind of project fascinates me. A few years ago I went to the 860-880 Lakeshore Drive towers designed by Mies Van der Rhoe and a woman that has lived there for many years let me look around in a few co-op apartments. The precise detail and simplicity of the building had an impact on me. The grid allows partition walls to be added or taken away based on the occupant’s needs and wants.

I also think it would be cool to work on a project like a hyperloop hub. (Editor’s Note: Me too…)

If there was a dance move named after you, what would it look like?
The first thing that came to mind was someone who dances in all white clothing or a white suit with a white hat and white shoes. Perhaps a shuffle.

What is your least favorite nickname that you have?  What’s your favorite?
My least favorite was given to me by a kid on my youth soccer team. I was called “mattress” because my middle name is Matthew. Not really a good nickname – was more of an insult. He was jealous of my sweeper skills.

I have many nicknames, but I dig “J” or “J-Box.” I feel it’s unique.

If you had the opportunity to download one skill to your brain (Matrix style) what would it be?
I would think I would be awesome to be a master at coding. I took an online course but having all that knowledge instantaneously and never forgetting it would be beneficial and I could create all the things.

Give us some of your non-architectural hobbies?
On occasion I sketch, paint, read, build furniture, camp/hike. For a few months, I was a Google Map Maker but Google retracted a majority of the open sourcing and community edits. Recently I started laser cutting and etching. Although it is more of an entrepreneurial enterprise I have with my wife (Shelby).

What show are you binging right now?
I recently finished the latest season of “the Crown” on Netflix. My wife and I usually have the show “Friends” on in the background for noise at most hours of the day. We pretty much know every line of every episode.

In all of history, what person would you most love to have a beer with?
It would be awesome to have a beer with Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Are you related to Shaun White, Jack White, or Jesco White?  If not, why?
I cannot confirm nor deny such relations.

What trends in the architectural industry are currently sparking your interest?

  • Immersive visualizations such as VR/AR and 3D scanners are powerful tools that can help provide realistic and coherent presentations to clients. It also helps with communication and collaboration with consultants and contractors.
  • Automation of onsite construction is becoming more of a reality with robotics, 3D printing, and drones. It will be exciting to see what the future holds for these kinds of technologies and how productivity will increase in conjunction with mass customization.
  • The convergence of the “internet of things” and architecture or better know as “smart buildings” is optimizing functions and creating value. The idea of connecting everyday objects to the internet has been around for a while but recently it has exploded. With A.I., buildings can become more efficient and responsive to the needs of occupants in real time. As designers, I think a post-construction evaluation of collecting data on how a building functions will inform us to create better designs in the future.
  • Renewable technologies, such as solar, are becoming more cost-effective, increasing in efficiency, and becoming more innovative in how it is being produced. I think new solar technologies such as Tesla’s solar shingles, solar paint, and even solar glass that integrates energy producing capabilities into a project without compromising aesthetics is exciting. With battery storage it’s becoming feasible to have net-zero buildings.

What are you passionate about?
I’m passionate about my family and making people’s lives better whenever I can. I grew up in a household that values learning. I always try to engage myself in learning something new whenever I can. I’m passionate about design and how it influences our lives. Every building or product I interact with I internally critique the potential, the flaws, and the logic of it. It is a blessing and a curse.

What excites and terrifies you as a father-to-be?
What excites me most is seeing my child grow and develop her own personality and quirks. I am excited to travel with her, have little hobbies together, and teach her new things.

What terrifies me is the unknown. I have a feeling that I will be super protective no matter the situation. I am sure my wife will make me land the helicopter from time to time. (Editor’s note: She will, and you will… and if anybody can do it – Jbox can.)