We all have a quiet colleague, the one who listens and observes while others talk and gesticulate. The one who doesn’t speak often – but when they do they have something to say. Our quiet colleague is Mike. Unsurprisingly, Mike finds his inspiration in the quiet of the mountains. He is a passionate mountaineer and shares his love of the wild places by guiding others on memorable trips into the Cascade Mountains. On these trips Mike’s attention is always drawn by the smallest detail. He notices texture and is fascinated by scale.

Explaining his fascination with the technical aspects of his work, Mike likens the discovery process to that of climbing a mountain. From a blade of grass, through the trees to the top of the mountain, he sees parallels in the design process: from identifying each tiny detail, to how they all come together to create a tall building against the City skyline. Mike talks about each project in the context of appreciating its unique environmental challenges and overcoming obstacles that seem out of scale with what you think you can do.

If it doesn’t make you happy, don’t do it.

Mike began his career in construction and has never lost his love of creating something with his own hands. He really comes alive when faced with a particularly challenging technical problem and talks animatedly about figuring out an intricate barrel-vaulted operable skylight over each section of the 8-block City Creek Center in Salt Lake City. No one on the team had ever done anything quite like it and Mike tracked down the designers of Seattle’s Safeco Field retractable roof to help him figure out how to mechanize the system. This collaborative approach to problem-solving goes to the heart of Mike’s belief that a well-designed building cannot exist without a solid team behind it.