John S. Chapman, Eppstein Uhen Architects
IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features John S. Chapman, AIA, NCARB, Madison studio director, Eppstein Uhen Architects.
What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job and why?
It is a challenge to translate an understanding of a company’s culture and organizational goals into a modern workplace — whether in an office, laboratory, or factory — that promotes interaction and innovation. It is incredibly rewarding to provide insight and possibilities that create spaces enabling each member of a team to reach his or her potential, resulting in personalized design solutions. When architecture provides a tangible alignment and supports or even changes the culture of an organization, it is extremely gratifying.
Who do you look up to or admire in business and why?
I have been blessed with collaborating with some amazing minds in my design career: Mark Irgens, Matt Bartel, Juli Kaufmann, Russ Weyers, India McCanse, and Ben Salzmann. One individual who combines decisiveness, success, leadership, and determination is Liz Uihlein. She is the genius behind her family business, achieving significant growth every year in its 30-plus year existence. Her tenacity truly comprehends every detail in customer service, marketing, and logistics, as well as the importance of the Uline brand, which is reflected in their facilities. She works harder than anyone I have ever met.
What has been the high point of your career so far?
My recent return to both EUA and to Madison. Although I have had many rewarding and memorable design and project experiences, the opportunity to lead EUA’s Madison office, to cultivate and connect with clients, and to support and develop the many talented colleagues at 309 W. Johnson St. is quite extraordinary.
Thinking back on your career, what advice would you give your 21-year-old self?
“Always stay curious and keep learning.” Curiosity improves engagement and collaboration. Curious people make more informed choices, improve their company's performance, and help their company adapt to uncertain market conditions and external pressures. My wife and I have provided our two kids in college with countless, free advice. They seem to have listened and translated this to “stay in school as long as you can.”
What would you say are the best things about living and working in Dane County?
People, scale, spring, neighborhoods, lakes, restaurants, parks, education, Olbrich Botanical Gardens, golf, Unitarian Meeting House, beer, summer, Goodman Community Center, diversity, Concerts on the Square, cheese, the Capitol, Henry Vilas Zoo, autumn, State Street, the Arboretum, boating, farmers market, Friday fish fry, Overture Center, and Tenney Park.
Do you have any secret talents or abilities that people would be surprised to discover?
With quite an extensive cookbook collection, I am an avid cook. The changes in attitudes in the importance of food freshness, food seasonality, and small-farm economics has impacted and improved my cooking. Celebrating knowing where our food originates from is so important, as well as being able to link between the seasons of the year and the food we eat. Food is one of life’s greatest joys, so it is key to recognize how to turn all sorts of fresh ingredients into meals when they’re in season and at their best. I love cooking for my family and believe that our time shared in the kitchen and at the table has brought us closer together.
What are your guilty pleasures?
Having been born in London, England, I am a soccer addict. When thrown a ball growing up, most kids caught it — I kicked it. Whether supporting West Ham United or the England national team, I will stop almost everything [thank goodness for DVR] to watch them play. It doesn’t stop there. When the World Cup arrives, I watch every match and when the English Premier League season is going, I watch most matches. After all, “football” is the world’s most popular sport.
Click here to sign up for the free IB ezine — your twice-weekly resource for local business news, analysis, voices, and the names you need to know. If you are not already a subscriber to In Business magazine, be sure to sign up for our monthly print edition here.