The guy you want on your team: Scot Parker’s 30 years at Legat Architects brim with influential projects, appreciative building owners, and enlightened coworkers.
In 1989, when Scot Parker was a graduate student in the University of Illinois’ architecture program, he got a call from a former fellow student who asked if he’d be willing to do some work at Legat Architects during his winter break. He jumped at the chance. During the three-week stint, Parker helped build models for a major project involving multiple schools. He returned to Legat the following summer and winter and then, armed with a Master of Architecture degree with a focus on structural engineering, he kicked off his first day as a full-time employee on August 26, 1991.
Thirty years later, Parker is not only a principal and studio director of the firm’s Gurnee, Illinois location, but he’s also the driving force behind some of Legat’s largest projects.
Putting Legat on the Map
Legat President and CEO Patrick Brosnan said, “For years, Scot has been one of our go-to project managers for large, multi-year projects with complex programmatic and systems requirements.”
Parker proved his mettle for these types of projects with the (Gurnee) Warren Township High School Almond Campus (completed 1997), which stands as Legat’s first ground-up high school and, at 344,000 square feet, the largest single project in the firm’s history.
“I would delegate pretty much everything to Scot, and he would do it flawlessly,” said coworker Casey Frankiewicz, reflecting on his experience as project manager for the Almond Campus. “I trusted him with everything from coordinating consultants to working directly with the client. Here was this young guy essentially leading the biggest project the company has ever had. This one really put us on the map for these large projects.”
Not only did the school elevate Legat’s reputation, but several employees’ children and even three current employees graduated from the school.
Parker also led the neighboring 330,000-square-foot Vernon Hills High School—Legat’s second largest project—completed in 1999, as well as 175,000 square feet in additions and renovations at Highland Park High School (completed 2004), which went on to win an American Institute of Architects (AIA) Chicago Chapter Distinguished Building Award.
A Step Higher
Parker’s reputation for both project management and technical prowess eventually led to higher education projects, such as the 2000 commission of a project unlike any other in Illinois: the University Center of Lake County (completed 2005) offers degrees from 12 universities. As project manager, Parker had to not only respond to many building users and consultants, but he also had to draw from his graduate school focus on structures to oversee design of a building with two completely different faces; the 91,000-square-foot facility has a more formal brick appearance on the north side and a complicated curving glass and metal façade on the south side.
The Value of Trust
If Parker thinks a contractor is right and a building owner is not, he will tell the owner. This honesty and directness have allowed him to build long-term relationships leading to repeat work. Nowhere is this more apparent than with College of Lake County (CLC). Early in his career, Parker started working on details for smaller projects on the college’s Grayslake campus. It wasn’t long before he was named project architect for the 127,300-square-foot James Lumber Center for the Performing Arts (completed 1998), which includes three theaters and spaces for fine and applied arts, as well as nursing and human services programs.
In the ensuing decades, Parker would go on to manage other high-profile projects for the college. Examples include the Science and Engineering Building, one of the first Illinois community college buildings to achieve LEED Platinum (the U.S. Green Building Council’s highest rating for energy efficiency) and most recently, CLC’s (Waukegan) Lakeshore Campus expansion, highlighted by a six-story Student Center including a top-floor balcony with stunning views of Lake Michigan.
“Leading these complex projects takes finesse . . . a unique combination of patience, people skills, and technical ability,” said Brosnan. “The decades-long relationship that Scot built with the college and the Capital Development Board was a key factor to our winning the commission for the current Lakeshore project.”
Parker has also given back to the institution by volunteering his time as a member of the CLC Foundation’s board of directors.
Though his modesty keeps him from admitting it, Parker has mentored many employees during his three decades at Legat. Frankiewicz said that no matter how busy Parker is, if a coworker needs guidance, he will find the time it takes to help so that the employee understands and can move forward.
Parker’s influence extends to interior designers such as Monique Taylor, who said that he is a perfectionist when it comes to getting details right and making sure clients are happy. He often asks team members how the contractor will see a detail so they can avoid unnecessary challenges in the field.
“I can go to Scot with anything and he is always willing to help or point me in the right direction,” said Taylor. “I am amazed that with his workload and the many hats he wears that he still manages to carve out time to help people.”
One word that describes Scot Parker, fan of soccer, skiing, and Star Wars, is balance . . . balance between project and employee needs, balance between the big picture and the minute details, and balance between quality and time.
When Frankiewicz thinks about Scot, it brings him back to picking teams in gym class. “When it’s your turn to pick,” said Frankiewicz, “Scot’s the guy you want on your team. No matter what the job is—project manager, studio director, client interface—he’ll get it done right.”
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