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COMMUNITY — Spotlight

Sunday, July 23rd, 2017

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Spotlight: Creig B. Hoskins

CREIG B. HOSKINS, AIA, NOMA

Creig B. Hoskins was born in Clarksdale, Mississippi, a town in the Mississippi Delta.  Throughout his childhood, he loved to draw and sketch.  When Creig was in high school, his parents allowed him to live with his uncle in Michigan to be more educationally challenged.  Since his uncle worked for General Motors, Creig assumed he’d go on to college to become an automobile designer for GM.  As fate would have it, GM entered a downturn, and Creig returned to Mississippi, where he graduated high school and was accepted into Mississippi State University’s School of Architecture to begin his career of designing buildings instead of cars.

After graduation from MSU in 1985, Creig relocated to Birmingham, Alabama where he was recruited by a prestigious firm now-named Giattina Aycock Architecture Studio (GA).  As he took on more responsibility and obtained professional licensure, Creig proved to be vital to the firm family and was named an Associate Partner in 1995.  His continued success as a designer, project manager, and role model helped him earn the MSU Alumni of the Year award in 2000. By 2005, he was made Senior Vice-President, the first African-American to be named a managing principal and owner in an Alabama majority-owned architectural firm.

As Senior Vice-President, Creig had the opportunity to design a variety of commercial and residential projects.   He led the firm’s involvement in designing multi-unit elderly housing for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  Through this work, he became an expert in designing accessible spaces and passionate about building high-quality and cost-effective spaces.  In the past 5 years alone, he has designed and managed 18 HUD-funded projects across the southeast, ranging from new construction to renovations, all totaling over $75M.  He was a member of the project team for Homewood Middle School (180,000sf, $23M), the nation’s first LEED Silver-certified middle school in 2003.  As project architect and principal in charge, Creig was instrumental in the design of George Washington Carver High School for Health Professions, Engineering and Technology (304,000sf; $43M), which included 96 classrooms, clinical and nursing laboratories, a Disney-inspired animation studio, a television broadcasting area, fine arts auditorium, and cosmetology laboratory.   From designing rock displays for the Birmingham Children’s Zoo to multi-million dollar schools, civic and office buildings, Creig’s diverse design career has spanned nearly 3 decades.  And he’s not done yet.

Despite the nationwide economy and the declining construction industry, in 2009 Creig decided to step down as Senior Vice-President and Principal of GA, to create his own firm called HOSKINS Architecture.   The decision was difficult, but one he doesn’t regret.  He left GA with the support of his fellow partners, as well as the blessing of founding partner, and Creig’s mentor, Joe Giattina.  Creig truly values his years of experience, contributions, and investment in GA, which in turn gave him the tools needed to create his own company.

Not only does Creig strive to further the profession by creating innovative designs, he firmly believes in improving the community as well.  Creig is an active member of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) and served as the Southern Region Vice-President for 8 years until 2009.  He is a founding member of the Birmingham chapter of NOMA, where he served as President for three 2-year terms and was the Treasurer for 6 years.   He sat on the MSU Architectural Advisory Board from 1997-2000 and 2005-2009 and currently he serves on the Executive Board of Girls Inc., the Children’s Aid Society Foundation Board, and the City of Birmingham Design Review Committee.   Creig also created and continues to fund an annual scholarship to MSU’s College of Architecture, Art +Design, for students from the Mississippi Delta Region.

Currently, HOSKINS Architecture is providing design services for Children’s Health System and the Birmingham City School system, and has been selected for the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex’s Multipurpose Facility design team, led by Populous (formerly HOK Sport).  The office has five employees and will soon be expanding from 400sf to 1,800sf.

 

Q:  What do you like the most and least about being an architect?

Everything is always new and challenging.  No two problems are the same.  What I like the least is when I can’t convince an Owner to see the value in quality design.

Q:  What project(s) are you most proud of?

One that solves three basic criteria: client, quality, and community.  Birmingham Children’s Zoo ($8.8M), Gateway Family & Child Services Campus ($3.5M), George Washington Carver High School ($43M), and Children’s Hospital Data Center & Parking Deck ($16M) are some of the projects I’m most proud of.

Q: Would you have liked for your children to follow in your footsteps and become an architect?

I have always wanted them to be what they want to be.  My son LaDarius spent a lot of time with me in the office while growing up.  At one time, he thought he wanted to be an architect, but later changed his mind.  He is now a commercial diver.  My daughter, Jasmine, grew up drawing everything in the third dimension.  She attends the University of Pennsylvania and will graduate next year with degrees in Psychology and Spanish.

Q: What was your motivation to leave Giattina Aycock after decades of being a managing partner and part owner of that firm, and during a slump in the economy?  Any regrets?

Timing, and the desire to create a sustainable firm; something that seems to elude many minority firms.  No regrets.

Q: What in your opinion is the economic forecast of the construction industry in the coming years?

Up.   There’s nowhere to go but up!  I know it’s slow, but we will soon be back where we were in our glory days.  History has shown when there is a decline, there will be an upturn as well.

Q: What responsibility do you think architects and designers have to their community?

Every project undertaken should enhance the community and design profession in some form.  Does it positively impact and foster growth in the community?  Does it provide sustainable jobs or does it displace people?  Every project should strive to do what’s right for the community.

Q: What do you think students should know, who are considering architecture as their career?

It takes time; a lifetime.  A license in architecture and 5-10 years experience means you are just beginning.  Architecture is a profession developed and fine-tuned with time.  I’m still learning after 25 years.

Q: What advice do you have for designers in this economy that are struggling to find jobs?

Be patient.  Learn while you are in between jobs.  Never stop taking opportunities to learn.  Also, remember money isn’t everything.  You want to find a place that will invest in you.  Look at the big picture: Is there room for me to grow?  Where do I want to be in 5, 10, 20 years?  These are the questions you have to ask yourself.

Q: What is the last movie you watched?

Bright Star- a romantic drama based on the life of 19th Century poet, John Keats, who tragically died at age 25.  It was a good movie.

Q: What do you enjoy in your spare time?

G-O-L-F!

Q: Did you watch the Oscars this year?
No, but I wanted Precious to win an award, so I was pleased and surprised to hear Mo’Nique won for her role as Best Supporting Actress.

 

 

Credits:

Photo of Mr. Hoskins: The Birmingham News/Joe Songer

Photo of rock display at Birmingham Zoo: GA Studio/Lewis Kennedy

 

Links:

Mississippi State University College of Architecture, Art + Design

National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA)

HOSKINS Architecture