Jamie is the cofounder and Managing Partner of the firm and leads projects across all areas of the practice. But as he’s quick to point out, “I don’t like the limelight.” One senses he’d rather spend time looking forward to what’s next, rather than backward over a list of professional accomplishments (though there are plenty.) It's the people and the work itself, not the accolades, that motivates him.
“I thought I would be a doctor,” Jamie says of his early life, but then in college he took a course on man and the environment, and felt the call to the field of architecture as an equally impactful way to serve others. Fittingly, Jamie references as early influential figure a man named Charlie Darstein, who was not a famous architect, but a German immigrant and jack of all trades who worked on his grandparent’s farm outside of Buffalo, NY. “Everyone was in awe of Charlie,” says Jamie, and his ability to fix, tinker, and build nearly anything with his own hands. Jamie brings that journeyman’s ethic from 40 years of renovating buildings in Philadelphia and to his practice at the firm.
Today, Jamie’s attitude toward his professional work is much the same; roll up your sleeves, work as a team, and solve the problem in the most beautiful way possible. There’s no room for prima-donnas.
As Jamie puts it, architecture is “an extremely social art form, you don’t go into a studio and make something, you’re interacting with dozens of people pulling this thing together and making it work as a team… Bringing that group intelligence out is so much more rewarding and fun.”
Spend some time talking with Jamie and he may bring up a favorite quote, “You won’t know who you are until you know where you are.”– a piece of wisdom from American writer Wendell Berry. Jamie lives in Upper Roxborough, Philadelphia, the last remaining 19th century farming community in the city limits. In his thirty-plus years rooted in that community, he has been an active force in protecting and preserving its unique character and history as the founding member of the Roxborough / Manayunk Conservancy, as president of the local civic organization, and as a local beekeeper whose bees keep him abreast of local conditions.
If he wasn’t a practicing architect, says Jamie, "I’d like to build boats,” and in fact, during an earlier season of life, worked for a year under a Danish shipwright building a wooden 28-foot day sailor out of a boatyard in Old Saybrook, Connecticut. Here too, as in architecture, is the magic of creating something new and beautiful with your hands, steaming oak frames, shaping cedar and teak planks, putting something to the wind. Craftwork informs all the work he does.