The Power of a Mission
Thirteen years ago I relocated from the UK to San Antonio and found work at a local architecture firm, Overland Partners. The company had no real business plan. What they did have was a mission—“to model how we should live and influence the world through the practice of architecture.” The sentiment was idealistic, and the path for realizing it was unclear at best. I found it off putting, particularly coming from a firm where the bottom line dictated all business decisions.
And then things began to change. We landed a project on a remote beach in Mexico. We were invited to meet with a Saudi prince. Government leaders in China sought our counsel designing for environmentally sensitive waterways.
But most notable was how I began to change. I was a motivated individual—but uninspired. Through our firm’s mission I began to find a greater purpose. I realized that our work was not about building buildings but about changing lives. I learned the incredible power of a mission—whether of an organization or of an individual—to create change. The path may not always be clear and will almost certainly require tenacity and patience, but the impact is immeasurable.
Growing up in a national park in Wales, James Andrews, a principal at Overland Partners Architects, gained an early appreciation of the natural world. This experience led him to believe that good architecture must be more than functional and beautiful and should also be restorative. Because nature solves the most complex problems itself, we need to gain a greater understanding of its solutions and use this knowledge to create more harmonious systems and relationships—not only with nature but with each other.
Influenced by his passion for rugby and other sports, James delights in the process of team building, bringing the right people together to solve complex problems. He finds that whether working with others in China, New Zealand, or San Antonio, the methods of implementation may be different, but the fundamental motivation is the same—creating a healthy environment for future generations.
James’s commitment to the practice of architecture, sustainability, and the environment is evidenced by his involvement in a number of organizational initiatives. He has served as Co-Chair for the AIA San Antonio Committee on The Environment (COTE), as Director of the Board for AIA San Antonio, was a founding member and Chair of United States Green Building Council (USGBC) Central Texas, and was a member of Leadership San Antonio (Class 34). James serves on the Advisory Committee for the Mayor’s Task Force on Sustainable Design, the Executive Committee of the World Affairs Council, the Alamo Asian American Chamber of Commerce, and the Advisory Council of the USBGC Central Texas Chapter.
He has been honored as a sustainability expert by the San Antonio Business Journal’s 2010 Going Green Awards, and his projects at Overland have been recognized with two AIA National Housing Awards, two AIA/HUD Secretary’s Creating Community Connection Awards, and the Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence.
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/james-andrews-riba-aia-int%E2%80%99l-assoc-leed-ap-5345a58
- Website: http://www.overlandpartners.com/people/james-andrews/
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