"As architects and designers, we get to see each day the way design can have a positive impact in our community and in turn change people's lives."
Samuel De Jong
Iowa State University, College of Design | Bachelor of Architecture
What's been your most rewarding project(s) while at your firm?
At BNIM we strive to design in a way that ‘inspires change and enhances the human condition’. Our goal is to help make a better world. What that means is that on each and every project, we look to create impact – for people, for the environment and in each space we design. Every project is unique, each with a different set of opportunities, which makes each project rewarding in different ways.
One project at BNIM that was particularly rewarding was the reconstruction of Westport Presbyterian Church after a devastating fire that nearly destroyed the entire building. Working with the congregation we were able to help them realize their vision of transforming this building, and in doing so reinvest in their congregation and community in Westport.
One other project that has been transformative in my life, a volunteer effort with another colleague at BNIM, along with our church community here in KC, is work with a remote village in western Kenya to design and construct the first high school campus in this area. The relationship with this community, which has been ongoing for the last decade, started with the funding of 10 new fresh water wells, which helped bring peace and stability to the community. Education has since become a focus, and we have seen firsthand its impact in the community and on the lives of each student. The school has been in operation for three years, with each building on campus designed to respond to the harsh climate while reflecting the local culture and place. Using local materials and labor for construction in addition to local staff and members of the board, this village has embraced the school and taken ownership of this community asset.
Most interesting place you've traveled for work?
Geneva, Switzerland | West Pokot, Kenya | Columbia (Missouri!)
What inspires you about your profession?
As architects and designers, we get to see each day the way design can have a positive impact in our community and in turn change people's lives. Design has agency to heal communities, bring people together, and should be accessible to all. It touches all our lives everyday in some way, and as designers we get to think about this from the scale of a community down to the detail of how two materials come together.