J. Veisz, AIA, CSBA Builds Architecture Foundation at Mercer; Puts
MCCC Grads to Work
Windsor, N.J. - Do you know what it takes to be an architect?
That's a question John Veisz '77 (A.A., Humanities
and Social Science and A.S., Architecture) needed to answer
when he first started his studies at MCCC in the 1970s. And,
he says, "Mercer proved a great place for me to explore
recalls that there was little emphasis on art and music in
the parochial school he attended right through high school.
But he was drawn to the arts anyway and took summer art classes.
decision to enroll at Mercer was groundbreaking. "I was
the first in my family to go to college," he explains.
"Money was an issue and Mercer seemed to have what I
needed and was interested in. I was trying to find a way to
channel my art in a practical direction." He recalls
receiving an excellent foundation, graduating with honors
in 1977 with degrees in Humanities/Social Science and Architecture.
continued his education at Kent State University in Ohio, a natural
choice since he had relatives there and discovered that MCCC faculty
member Bob Sharon was moving out there to teach. Veisz went on to
earn his bachelor's in science degree at Kent State and then finished
up a fifth year to earn a professional bachelor's in Architecture
degree, the standard path at the time.
knew then what is common knowledge now: Working in your field during
college is essential to getting a job after graduation. He spent
two summers back home in New Jersey working for Bowman, Blanche,
Faridy Architects (a Trenton area firm founded in 1918 as Micklewright
& Mounford Architects, more recently known as Faridy Veisz Fraytak
Architects). This helped him gain real world experience and develop
professional connections. He accepted a full time position with
the firm after graduation in 1980, and worked there for the next
Veisz decided it was time to branch out. He worked for a Bowers
Design Associates, a Princeton area design/build firm, then for
a national company, and then for one that specialized in roof consulting,
design and construction administration. Most intriguingly, he developed
expertise in forensic investigation of building envelope failures,
a specialty that assesses and determines the cause of water infiltration
and material failures in existing construction. As an outgrowth
of these services, he has also been called on to provide litigation
support services in the aftermath of those failures.
Veisz rejoined his original firm in 1995, then known as Faridy Thorne
Fraytak Architects - Planners, and became a partner in 2000. They
are now Fraytak Veisz Hopkins Duthie, P.C., Architects - Planners.
For some time, the firm has specialized in education projects. It
is the architect of record for the MCCC Conference Center, which
opened in 2001 and has since become an active educational hub for
businesses, as well as a popular meeting place for governmental
agencies, nonprofits and corporate entities. "We are very pleased
with the success that important campus project has had in the county,"
Using engineering and other subspecialty consultants, staff members
play a key role in project coordination, guiding clients through
the complex process of sustainable design, bidding, evaluating,
and awarding jobs, and overseeing construction. "We strive
to assure a proper level of conformity with the original project
budget and design intent," Veisz says.
The company has increasingly focused on environmentally responsive
construction, including greater use of solar panels. Currently it
has more than 35 solar projects completed or underway in various
stages of planning, design and construction, as well as numerous
new facilities that are heated and cooled utilizing ground water
source geothermal heat pump systems.
"We have been proactive in reinventing ourselves," Veisz
says. "New employees bring new skills and approaches critical
to continued success." The staff includes Leadership in Energy
and Environmental Design (LEED) certified architects, a credential
that has become a benchmark for sustainability initiatives through
a collaborative design process governed by the US Green Building
"In the LEED system, points are accumulated for various 'green'
elements implemented into a building project, with the overall goal
of reducing energy usage - the more points, the higher the level
of sustainability for a project," Veisz explains. This includes
focusing on local materials to reduce transportation costs and active
building material recycling.
Coming at sustainability from a slightly different perspective,
Veisz himself is a Certified Sustainable Building Advisor through
a national program, an approach that relies on holistic environmental
decisions. He notes that the goal of integrating "environmentally
friendly" designs principles balances costs, both in design
and construction, long term, reliable material performance, and
overall energy reduction that can make a "green" building
project a valued investment for clients.
Veisz continues to get great satisfaction from the firm's projects
- a library renovation project at Lincoln University in Chester
Co., Pa., currently under construction, and the recently completed
New Cedar Creek High School in Egg Harbor Township that meets both
LEED criteria and Homeland Security Best Practices, which seek to
minimize a public building's exposure to attack and damage.
Overseeing 29 full and part-time staff members, Veisz notes four
current employees are graduates of MCCC's Architecture program and
that he has had as many as eight on staff at one time. (His partner,
George Duthie, is also an MCCC Architecture alum.) He has especially
appreciated those who have continued for their four-year degrees
at Drexel University, which has a coop program that enables students
to work for the firm full-time while completing their education.
"I'm a little biased, but we favor Mercer grads and it's always
a good choice," Veisz maintains. "We appreciate the foundation
they receive at Mercer. Maybe it's because some have had to make
sacrifices to attend college, but generally, they are more serious,
focused and grounded self-starters. This has been a very consistent
and positive hiring experience for us."
Serving several semesters as an adjunct instructor at MCCC a few
years back, Veisz had a chance to help a new generation of students
answer the question of just what it takes to be an architect. In
one assignment, students were required to interview a working architect,
"which opened their eyes to misconceptions and helped them
get a more realistic perspective," Veisz says. In another assignment,
he asked them to take photos of an aesthetically pleasing built
environment and critique what they liked. "It was a great exercise
that allowed students to begin to realize that they have been learning
about the built environment their entire lives," Veisz recalls,
noting that he would like to teach again in the future
For now, Veisz's goal is to work with his partners, George Duthie
and Ted Hopkins, to usher the firm through its centennial in 2018.
"That will be a very rewarding professional and personal experience
for all of us."
More information about Veisz Hopkins Duthie is available at their
website here. Veisz invites students
interested in architecture to email questions to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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