An Interview with Andy Lee
Celebrating JLA’s 15 Year Anniversary
In celebration of our 15-year anniversary, we sat down with Senior Project Specialist Andy Lee to discuss his time at JLA and reflect back on how his brother Joe Lee (founder and president of JLA) steered him towards architecture as a career.
When did you start at JLA?
It was May of 2014. However, I helped out a little bit at JLA before that, putting together office furniture with Joe.
Is architecture in the family blood?
Not really, before I started, I was dabbling in different things. I kind of got pulled into the grocery store retail business out of high school and then I was dabbling in real estate sales and doing this and that. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, then Joe and I went out for lunch one day and were talking about life in general and he said, “Have you ever thought about doing architecture?” I told him that I wasn’t artistic like he was—he’s always been the artistic guy in the family—but he said you don’t need to be artistic to be in this field.
After that lunch, I signed up for a few classes at MATC and really enjoyed it, so I enrolled in the associate program and started working at JLA part time.
I don’t, but I do remember an early project, Hidden Creek Residences, that I have been working on since it started in 2014. Today, phase three of the project is underway. It’s located on the eastside of Madison (WI) and includes three apartment buildings and a clubhouse.
Any notable stories, funny moments or lessons learned along the way?
We’ve had a lot of fun over the years. When I started, we were only about seven people, so we would get together after work, have a couple drinks and just kind of shoot the breeze.
One of my favorite projects was Synergy at the Mayfair Collection, that was a fun one. I worked with Ed (Cormier) and got to see it through from beginning to end; I learned a lot. It was a unique type of construction, and a very complicated building. Ed was a great leader on that one—he was a mentor for me during those years.
When I first started at JLA, I worried there might be a stigma, like ‘Andy’s here because it’s his brother’s firm.’ So I really felt like I had to prove myself more than most, and the Synergy project helped. I felt like I earned people’s respect.
What makes JLA special and sets us apart from other firms?
I mean, it’s the culture, right? We really strive to not only ‘talk the talk’, but also ‘walk the walk’. The culture of JLA is awesome.
When I first started, I had absolutely no experience and I asked 1,000 questions every day. Everyone was busy, but they were always more than willing to stop what they’re doing to help me out, and answer questions. It’s kind of come full circle for me, with my experience now I’m able to make time to help others too.
And I really enjoy the fact that you’re not really pigeonholed into doing one task at JLA. If you’re interested in doing more visualization with SketchUp or Photoshop, you can approach one of the leadership members and voice that and they’ll do what they can to help make that happen. People can do different things within the office that interests them, that’s big too.
Also, I love the volunteer time that we’re allowed per year and just the fact that we’re able to volunteer during the workday, it feels so great giving back to the community and it’s nice to be at a company that recognizes that.
More about Andy:
As a senior project specialist at JLA, Andy provides support to our project teams in all phases of a project from design through construction administration. He enjoys working on something new every day and is constantly learning and improving.
- Hidden Creek Residences | Madison, WI
- Veritas Village | Madison, WI
- 22 Slate | Madison, WI
- Bay Lofts | Sturgeon Bay, WI
- Synergy at the Mayfair Collection | Wauwatosa, WI
- Prairie Lakes Retail | Sun Prairie, WI
- The Shield apartments – Salvation Army of Dane County |Madison, WI