LPA Principal of the Week: Don Pender

As part of a continuing feature on this blog, we'll meet each of the firm Principals and get their take on LPA, current projects and of course, sustainable design.

LPA Principal Don PenderDon Pender, AIA, LEED AP

Q. How long have you worked at LPA?

A. I moved here from Texas to join LPA in 1987. In 1991, I returned to Texas where I was in private practice until returning to LPA in 2000. I've been here ever since.

Q. What do you love most about your job?

A. I don't think there is any place like LPA. The ability to bring so much expertise to our clients in so many areas is unique. I think that ability, to be able to tell a client we can solve their problem, and then assemble the team to solve it, with creativity, insight and professionalism brings me enormous personal and professional satisfaction. This job is so much about bringing people together to accomplish things and change our environment. I don't know how I could ask for more.

Q. What does a day in the life of Don Pender look like?

A. A typical day starts fast. I always start by reviewing my calendar before I leave the house. When I get to the office, I might meet with a project team, or team leader for an update on progress of a project. At some point during the day, the K12 leadership might meet to review our strategic approach to Educational Facility Master Planning, Energy modeling, or Integrated Design. We might break and continue our conversation over lunch. I might head out to a job site with a project team member to help evaluate a particular construction issue. The day might end with a school board meeting to be introduced after a selection process, or to present a major project milestone. I enjoy being able to touch a wide range of processes and that is something I've been able to do at LPA.

Newport Harbor High School Bell TowerQ. What project are you working on this minute? What does it entail?

A. Today I'm developing a proposal to provide Educational Facility Master Planning services for a new client. The key to this is to understand the client's unique needs, what their community and stakeholder groups are like, their long term educational needs, and how their existing facilities support those needs. We talk to the client, review their website, visit the District, talk to other people who are familiar with their unique circumstances, then write the proposal specifically for their situation. So it is a matter of doing research and using our expertise and knowledge to craft a unique approach that will be meaningful for the people in that school district.

Q. What do you love most about sustainable design?

A. What I love most about sustainable design is being part of the process of planning and designing places that are meaningful and relevant for the people who will use them, not just now, but far into the future. A truly sustainable project is one that is relevant long term. When I go to a new school building and see students learning in unique, flexible spaces, where I know energy efficiency is far beyond already stringent expectations, where I know the building is being a good neighbor to the environment, I feel LPA has made a difference that is going to last for future generations.

Donald Pender, AIA has more than 28 years of experience is currently a Principal at California-based LPA Inc. He is a LEED Accredited Professional and a Recognized Educational Facility Professional (REFP).