Employee Spotlight: Ryan Terrell

Father, husband and architect are just a few roles he interchangeably plays on a daily basis—meet Ryan Terrell. We all know him as a senior design manager for our commercial sector, but in this month’s employee spotlight we get to know him on a more personal level.

Employee Spotlight: Ryan Terrell

Born and raised in Atlanta, Ryan graduated from The Georgia Institute of Technology and started his architecture career in New York City by answering a Craigslist advertisement. Graduating in 2012 meant the job market was slowly coming back to life following the recession therefore making it difficult for Ryan to stay in Atlanta. Eager to get his architecture career going, he answered an advertisement on Craigslist and began working at DFA, a boutique architecture firm in NYC, within a week.

One-way ticket to NYC
Ambition, coupled with creativity and patience, Ryan’s career bloomed in the city. He worked long hours, but was grateful to even have the opportunity to live his childhood dream of being—an architect. Ryan reminisced about his first few months in the city from living in a hotel, a stranger’s kitchen via Airbnb to a hotel above a fish market, before eventually settling in to his own space. In the three and a half years that followed, Ryan received a permanent spot on the design team and worked on exciting adaptive reuse projects, such as a winery in Norfolk, Long Island and the Wynwood Arcade in Miami. Not only that, he also met his future wife in the East Village.

Settling down in the heart of Music City
With a plan to move to the south following their engagement, Ryan and his wife settled on Nashville. With his sights on Music City, Ryan’s former colleague connected him with design manager, Hannah Terry, who was working for another firm at the time. Hannah did some research and made a list of architecture firms to share with Ryan, who ultimately decided to join ESa following a lunch date with design managers, Ben Metz and Phillip Powers. Now six years in and with his mentor and ESa principal, Eric Klotz, by his side, Ryan is a part of some of the largest commercial projects in the firm, such as Paseo South Gulch.

Paseo South Gulch

In his current role at ESa, Ryan has the opportunity to not only work on design, but also has been client facing and participate in business development with his mentor Eric. Ryan coordinates with clients to bring conceptual designs to life, from 3D representation through design drawings. He seeks to elevate design by listening and responding to unique client and project needs all while focusing on the larger cultural context of the project.

To Ryan, good design should constantly seek unexpected and thoughtful solutions through an iterative and collaborative process. He also believes that excellent client service is achieved through careful understanding of desired outcomes and offering solutions that ultimately exceed expectations. Each project is fluid and every day is different.

Childhood dreams realized
Since childhood, Ryan expressed interest in drawing and comparing his friends’ houses, their differences and uniqueness. With a love for art and music, Ryan’s path to architecture took some turns before ultimately deciding to commit to his lifelong dream and pursue the field. In college, Ryan majored in finance, but after three years came to a realization, it was not whom he was nor what he wanted to do. After a road trip visiting his friend, Ryan had an epiphany and changed his major to architecture, ultimately deciding to pursue his creative dreams and what made him happy.

Working at both DFA and ESa, Ryan’s extensive portfolio provided him the creative outlet he always dreamed of. He worked on notable projects, big and small and earned his architecture license—calling it his proudest achievement, to date.

Fatherhood, hobbies and some other firsts
Aside from his career accomplishments, Ryan is a new dad to two and a half month old, Rowan. With Ryan by his side, Rowan, himself, experiences many firsts daily. Some notable firsts include learning to smile, only sleeping if mom/dad carry him up and down the stairs and exploring and fostering a best friend bond with the family pup, Xena, a six-year-old Chihuahua mix.

Employee Spotlight: Ryan Terrell

In addition to family and work, Ryan is an active member of the Nashville chapters of the Urban Land Institute (ULI), ACE (architecture/construction/engineering) Mentor Program, NAIOP (Commercial Real Estate Development Association) and the American Institute of Architects.

Below are some rapid questions to get to know Ryan a little bit more:

What is your favorite project you have worked on?
My first project that got built, the Wynwood Arcade in Miami. I did everything on the project—I was thrown in, flew down to Miami within a day, did CA (construction administration) on it and just figured it out as I went.

Employee Spotlight: Ryan Terrell

What is the best advice anyone has ever given you?
Nothing is ever as good or as bad as it seems.

If you were not in your current profession what would you be doing?
Playing guitar in a band… something with music, maybe production, talent scout, etc.

Who would you most like to meet, and why?
James Turrell, so we can argue who spells the last name better.

What is on your bucket list?
A trip to Europe, but this time I do not get sick.
(Side note, Ryan shared they went on their honeymoon to Spain and he spent the whole trip sick!)

Music, guitar, drawing, designing our dream home and working out.

What was your first concert?
My parents took me to my first concert, the Steve Miller Band and Jackson Brown, it is classic rock. The first concert I attended that was my choice was Lollapalooza.

What book are you currently reading?
I just finished reading Psychology of Money, very fascinating. I also recently finished Sapiens, Better Angels of Our Nature and Raising Good Humans.

What is on your desk?
A lot of junk, but also some of my favorites are the Retrospecta from Yale School of Architecture. I love to look at the student work, it keeps me inspired. School is the only time you have the absolute most freedom to design—you do not have real clients, real budget, the only limitation is yourself and testing these ideas and how to communicate the design ideas. It’s a factory of creativity and freedom of expression.

What would people be surprised to know about you?
I finished ninth in the 2015 NYC pizza run (5K race while eating pizza).

Employee Spotlight: Ryan Terrell