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Michael Coats

Firm: : Burns and McDonnell

Title: Senior Architect/Project Manager

Alma mater: University of Kansas

Hometown: Kansas City, MO

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Why did you go into your chosen field?

I actually started my college career majoring in civil engineering at another state university who’s name shall go unmentioned (it’s located in Mid-Missouri 😊). After a chance visit to an architecture firm during one college summer break in St. Louis, I was hooked on the energy and creativity I saw within that space. I saw the opportunity to use my abilities with creative problem solving, a love of mathematics, and my newfound appreciation of psychology that could be used to affect individual’s reaction in a defined space. It was a humbling revelation and I was excited for the change of direction in my pursuit of a different professional career path.

What gives you motivation to progress your design career?

The awareness that this profession allows for continuous knowledge capture, which can be used to constantly reinvent yourself keeps, me striving daily for new adventures. You can always be an expert in a particular aspect of the architectural profession but I feel that limits you to repeating old information. This information is a excellent foundation to validate the accumulated years in the profession, no doubt. The architectural profession is in constant movement and it is exciting to know that there is always something new on the horizon that can be learned and implemented to keep projects moving forward.

What is your most meaningful project, and why?

University of Kansas School of Engineering: Structural Testing and Student Projects Facility (completed 2014). This project is a highly specialized space that is used to attract world renowned researchers for large scale structural research and also allows for students to use as a dedicated project space. This was my first project at Burns and McDonnell as a new employee, and it challenged me by placing a new set of project responsibilities/expectations upon my shoulders. It opened my eyes to my strengths and weaknesses as an architect, which in the end definitely made me a better professional and opened the door to many great opportunities inside the office as well as in the Kansas City design community. I was able to be apart of a great design team which presented the opportunity to work with some of my former professors on a real project. Pretty cool to have your old professors as your client. I am very proud of the outcome and excited to know this building will be a part of the KU campus for generations to come.

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