ANDREW THOMPSON

Passaic County Architect, NJ

SAY IT LOUD - New York

SAY IT LOUD - A'18

SAY IT LOUD - A'19

SAY IT LOUD - United Nations 

SAY IT LOUD - United Nations World Wide

New Jersey Based Designer

What do you do as an Architect | Designer | Planner? 

I do it all as the County Architect, I have no support staff, so I do everything from preparing drawings and specifications, to preparing bids, and overseeing and managing a variety of projects. The position is an opportunity to show that with the power of one, it can get done. The work is varied so I am never bored. I also get to work with County government which is teaches me how architects should work with public policy. I get thrilled when a project is completed and the public of Passaic County provides comments in a positive manner about the project. I am dealing mostly with taxpayer’s money and at times the County does get grants, but I want to make sure the taxpayers money is put to good use. I make the most of the small budgets. 

ANDREW THOMPSON

Bio:

I first learned about architecture after seeing an old old black and white movie on PBS when I was 9 years old. The movie was The Fountainhead. It sparked my interest. I used to always go the public library in my neighborhood where I grew up in Brooklyn and I started reading anything related to architecture. By the age of 11 I knew I wanted to be an architect.

 

I am currently the County Architect for Passaic County in New Jersey. I oversee and I am responsible for building projects and renovations in all of the towns and municipalities in Passaic County. Projects range from infrastructure upgrades of a correctional facility in Paterson New Jersey to a historic restoration and rehabilitation of a mansion George Washington had in Wayne New Jersey.

I do it all as the County Architect, I have no support staff, so I do everything from preparing drawings and specifications, to preparing bids, and overseeing and managing a variety of projects. The position is an opportunity to show that with the power of one, it can get done. The work is varied so I am never bored. I also get to work with County government which is teaches me how architects should work with public policy.

I get thrilled when a project is completed and the public of Passaic County provides comments in a positive manner about the project. I am dealing mostly with taxpayer’s money and at times the County does get grants, but I want to make sure the taxpayers money is put to good use. I make the most of the small budgets.

My mentors from NOMA give me my inspiration. I have been with NOMA as a NY chapter member for 20 years and now currently a NJ chapter member for about the last 3 years. Those mentors have guided me on the right path in architecture by either giving me opportunities in the job market or guiding me in completion of my ARE exam and becoming licensed. I would like to thank Robert Washington, Richard Franklin, Jack Travis, Jeh Jonson and the late Jumaane Stewart.

I have had great opportunities in my years in the profession so there is not one proud moment but rather a few. At the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey I was part of the design team for AirTrain which links JFK Airport to major transit hubs such as the LIRR and the MTA subway. Seeing that project get built from the early sketches to not knowing if it would ever happen (it had been off and on for about 25 years) was inspirational in the fact that no matter how long it may take, it can get done.

At Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in my position as Chief Architect, my proudest moment was all the work we put into a project and to hear a patient say how beautiful the space was really let me know how important the role of the architect was in making impact to health and wellness.

At the City University of New York, putting together a new college, the Stella and Charles Guttman Community College, the first community college in CUNY in over 20 years, I felt I was given a great opportunity to make change in the education system. Planning the facility with Faculty for a year and when the school was officially opened, seeing the students interact in their renovated space in a positive manner really made me feel that I can be an agent of change.

I have been involved with NOMA since 1991. In 1993 I was on the conference committee when we held the conference in NYC for the first time. It was supposed to be held at the World Trade Center Vista Hotel but due to the 1993 WTC bombing we had to relocate the conference to Midtown. I was amongst the first members when NYCOBA became an official charter organization of NOMA hence NYCOBA-NOMA. I held Board positions on the National Board in 1995 and then from 2009 to recently. I was also President of NYCOBA-NOMA from 2007 to 2009. I will be stepping down from my Board position in October 2015 after serving (3) 2 year terms for a total of six years.

Being a NYCOBA-NOMA member it strengthened me as a Black architect, gave me purpose and the focus on what had to be done to call myself an architect. I am a member because I have given back to mentees and interns who are now on their road to becoming architects. I am a member because I regard NOMA as my extended “family” with relationships going back 20 years or more.

The most I value about my long term membership with NOMA, (which has never lapsed in over 20 years), is that it has made me what I am today. I agree education is important and my degrees from CUNY, Pratt Institute and Columbia University were well worth it and valuable insight gained. NOMA however always put into perspective by focusing on what was needed for the profession at that moment in time, whether getting more young Black students into the profession, keeping them focused in their time in architecture school, helping new graduates on the path to jobs and eventually to licensure. I also valued all the great Black architects I have met over the years through NOMA. Jeh Johnson, Robert Coles, Roberta Washington, Phil Freelon, Curt Moody, Wendell Campell, just to name a few. At every national NOMA conference, the fact that these architects always asked how am I doing was I think one of the best facets of NOMA. NOMA was so good to me it even got me a pilot on the History Channel, hey it can’t get any better than that!

Photography Credit:

Passaic County

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