We’re excited to kick of a series of posts introducing some new faces at Epicenter with board member Jason Wheeler, an architect and Executive Director of ASSIST Inc Community Design Center in Salt Lake City. Below is a brief interview with Jason about himself, his work, and his involvement with Epicenter.
Epicenter: What’s your background?
Jason: My background is shady… but only when hiking through stands of aspen trees. I studied construction management at BYU as an undergraduate, then completed a master’s degree in Architecture at the University of Illinois. While in school, I took multiple extended “leaves of absence,” first to complete volunteer service in New York for my church, then to gain some hands-on construction experience (also in New York), and finally to study European architecture for a year while my wife taught English at a university in Lyon, France. Following completion of my master’s degree, I began my professional career as an Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellow at Color Country Community Housing in St. George, Utah, improving the energy efficiency of affordable housing in the desert southwest. Following Superstorm Sandy in 2012, I completed the final year of my fellowship at Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. in New York City, where I directed the FAR ROC Design Competition and helped create the Sandy Design Help Desk centers as part of Enterprise’s Superstorm Sandy task force. From 2013-2016, I worked as an architect at Alley Poyner Macchietto Architecture in Omaha, Nebraska, focusing on housing for seniors, historic preservation, and custom home design. With a little bit of nudging from my non-profit colleagues, I moved back to Utah in 2016 to take my current position as Executive Director of ASSIST Inc Community Design Center in Salt Lake City.
E: Where are you from and where do you now live?
J: I was born and raised in Hyde Park, Utah, a bedroom community just north of Logan. I currently live in Salt Lake City.
E: What’s your connection to rural Utah? Green River specifically?
J: I grew up in rural northern Utah, and my first job out of graduate school was in southern rural Utah. While I was a Rose Fellow, I worked on projects across a wide swath of rural southern Utah including Blanding, Springdale, Ivins, Washington, Kanab, and Cedar City. It was also during that time that I first encountered Epicenter and gained an appreciation for the work that they are accomplishing in Green River.
E: What made you want to join the Board of Directors at Epicenter?
J: Epicenter has an incredible talent for telling the story of rural spaces in an engaging and graphically compelling manner – I am excited to join the board of Epicenter both to learn from their expertise and hopefully contribute to their continued success in shaping rural Utah!
E: If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
J: To solve a Rubik’s Cube in less than 30 seconds. That, or being able to ski through revolving doors. Flying wouldn’t be too bad, either.
Jason has already been a huge help to Epicenter and we’re looking forward to having his expertise on our board and working with him in the future. Stay tuned in the coming week to learn about our other new staff and board members!