Gregarious and compassionate at heart, design-focused by nature and dedicated to his practice, Seamus McGuire is an emerging professional in Louisiana’s architectural arena.
McGuire earned his B.arch from LSU in 2010, when the industry was at a lull. He decided to further his education and headed to Kansas, enrolling in Studio 804, a Design Build program at the University of Kansas. After receiving his master’s degree, becoming LEED certified and certifying two LEED Platinum buildings, McGuire began practice at KTGY, a multi-family housing firm in Denver, Colorado. One year and more than a bit of homesickness later, he moved back to Baton Rouge to work at GraceHebert Architects – a multi-disciplinary firm of 35. In the year since, McGuire has become licensed and been elected head of the AIA Associate Chapter of Baton Rouge.
Talk a little about your time as Associate Liaison of the AIA Baton Rouge Chapter. What have you learned and what have you been able to do?
As Associate Liaison of the Baton Rouge chapter, I had one primary focus: to get my fellow associates excited about licensure and to provide them with the tools and resources to become licensed. The average 7 years it takes to become licensed in our profession is a tough number to swallow, so I found it necessary to act. I launched the ARE Marathoners, a roundtable group that meets monthly to discuss each section of the ARE tests, answer questions, and inspire participants to be accountable for setting a schedule to achieve licensure and sticking to it.
What are some of the current projects you are working on? What type of projects do you like to take on?
I’m currently working on the new Primoris Services Corporation Office building off of I-10 by Blue Bayou. It’s technically my first real building to see go up as a project manager. It’s been a joy to work with Buquet and Leblanc and my peers at GraceHebert. I believe good teams create great relationships and great buildings. I’m also working on LEED certification for both Sherwood Forest Elementary and Paul Habans Elementary in New Orleans. Outside of my own direct work bubble, GraceHebert is involved in many exciting projects, including the LSU Recreational Center, the new Lee High School, Orleans Parish Prison and St Georges Church. The beauty of our firm lies in the diversity of our projects. This enables interns and architects alike to experience a variety of roles and grow their expertise.
You mentioned LEED certification, are you certified and how many buildings have you seen through certification?
I am LEED certified. I became LEED AP BD+C while in Denver just after graduating with my master’s from the University of Kansas. I made the push to become licensed because while in school, I and another colleague, Rhett Morgan, certified two buildings (The Center for Design Research and Galileo’s Pavilion) with a LEED Platinum rating. As I stated earlier, we’re currently working to certify the two schools in New Orleans. As a professional architect, I find it’s good practice to carry out the underlying sustainable principles of LEED — regardless of whether a client is willing to go through the certification process.
You became licensed, what would you recommend others who were in your shoes during the licensure process?
Set a schedule! Even in my short career, what I’ve noticed most is that “life” always gets in the way. “Life,” I must say, is a great excuse, but it’s important to understand that everyone is in the same boat. If one busy person can get licensed, so can you. “But I have 5 kids, and I work all day.” I’m not saying the balancing act is easy, but you can read countless forums online featuring people who pull it off. Best practice is to sit down, set a reasonable schedule for yourself and begin scheduling tests. I created a six- week schedule throughout my licensure. I studied for four weeks, tested during the fifth and then took a week off. The key was to begin studying for the next test before receiving the last test score in case of a fail. If you keep looking forward and testing, you will finish sooner—not later.
As an emerging professional, what is your next step as a licensed Architect?
The goal is to deepen my community involvement and make positive change for both the place that I call home, and the profession that I’ve chosen as my life’s work. In the past couple of years, architecture in the Baton Rouge area has been the best it’s ever been and I’m proud to have played a role in this. We live in an ideal time, when social media allows us to put a face on architecture, and I would like to help grow this resource to bring new business to our profession.