Welcome to the “Get To Know High Plains Architects” series of blog posts. Each post will profile a team member and give you a behind-the-scenes look at the people behind the architecture.
Project Designer / Marketing Manager Alex Tyler, AAIA, LEED Green Associate, joined our team in April of 2015. A graduate of MSU-Bozeman with a Master of Architecture degree, Alex brings to High Plains Architects (HPA) his interest and experience in sustainability, building detailing, urban agriculture, and passion for marketing. But what inspired this Minnesota native to become a designer and join the mission of HPA?
Like many young architects-to-be, Alex nurtured a healthy obsession with Legos as a child, which led him to take as many architecture and design classes as he could in high school as well as classes in ceramics and art. He wanted to be an artist but desired to make art that connects directly with people. Architecture seemed to be the perfect medium to accomplish that.
Enrolling at MSU-Bozeman for their excellent architecture program and for their proximity to Bridger Bowl Ski Area, Alex received more than a great education. He fell in love with the mountains, and while these days he spends more time hiking than on a snowboard, he finds it difficult to imagine living anywhere else. Something about the mountains keeps him close. Is this the reason he wanted to work at High Plains Architects? Not exactly.
While Alex was graduate-teaching-assisting a course at MSU titled issues-in-sustainability, his professor, Ralph Johnson, connected him with HPA President, Randy Hafer. After visiting the HPA website, the Urban Frontier House project piqued Alex’s interest.
The project’s bold claims confronted what Alex thought was legal for building in urban areas. “You have to hook up to the sewer if you’re building in the city,” he thought. “How can you get this through the variance process”?
He decided to meet Randy in person to find out. After the first four-hour-long interview, Alex was convinced that this was the real deal. After a second four-hour-long interview, Alex was checking around town for yoga studios and with his future-wife in agreement, decided to move to Billings!
Alex wears many hats as a Project Designer & Marketing Manager. He thrives on the variety of things he gets to do every day, from design work to project management to marketing duties and occasional IT responsibilities. Above all, his favorite part of the job is working directly with clients. Alex looks forward to becoming very engaged with the High Plains Architects client experience. While there’s a lot to get done, he sees the multiple roles and responsibilities as an advantage that brings vitality to his work. He’s never bored with his job.
He loves that HPA employs a flat hierarchy and doesn’t put people into vertical studios; however, you can always get help when you need it. This flatter structure allows for a large amount of flexibility in your assigned roles and a variety of project work you can experience.
The reason Alex chose to join HPA is that here, he can work to shift the market toward a more sustainable/walkable architecture.
“We’re not just creating spaces, we’re creating the path to these spaces through our development work. A lot of things just wouldn’t happen unless we make it happen. It’s great for our community and great for our firm by creating a consistent workflow.” - Alex Tyler
Making an impact on our community through his work is personal for Alex. Having choices in housing is a particular matter of importance because, currently, there’s not much choice available. There’s more development of housing options in downtown Billings, including the HPA-designed downtown loft apartments, and other firms are starting to create loft apartments as well.
Alex is most interested in creating an architecture for resilient humans and sustainable communities. From his perspective, sustainable communities mean more connected inhabitants. He’s a big proponent of front porch culture, tool sharing, and human powered movement. He believes that if we can connect with one another, we have a greater chance at living a happier and healthier life.
“I believe that as an aside while still providing ADA access, it is beneficial to also design spaces that encourage mind-body connection. Challenging terrain, the option to hang, swing, squat, and jump allows us to use our bodies in a way that better prepares them for avoiding accidents or mitigating deterioration and atrophy from desk work.”
- Alex Tyler
Alex also brings his passion for movement to make a personal impact on his community and his colleagues. To get people more comfortable moving around and stretching their bodies, he has helped to organize an acrobatic yoga community in Billings. In the HPA office, he’ll do yoga in the middle of the workday and wishes to lead in-office mini-movement sessions to encourage people to get up out of their chairs more often.
So how does Alex spend his time when he’s not working? Partner Acrobatics. What's that? See the photo below. Since grad school, he has been teaching partner acrobatics and was one of the founding community members in Billings. This brought him into direct contact with the local circus collective Alternacirque, of which he has been a member ever since.
Alternacirque Photo Credit: Casey Page
Community and creating a healthier world is a big part of what connects the HPA team. The word “enthusiastic” is what Alex considers the operative term for describing the people behind High Plains Architects. After all, anything worth doing is worth having fun doing.
He appreciates that at HPA, the team is a family and can kid around while working smart. Everyone at High Plains Architects is on a mission to live the lives we desire and to build the type of world we want to live in. Alex enjoys doing just that in a cozy, somewhat chaotic, but overall enjoyable working environment.