OPN Welcomes Meier-Gast, Bowersox To Leadership Team

OPN Architects is pleased to announce the promotion of James Meier-Gast, AIA LEED AP, and Susan Bowersox, AIA, to Associates, both in the firm’s Cedar Rapids office.

A graduate of Iowa State University with a bachelor of architecture, Meier-Gast has worked at OPN since 1994. In his more than two decades at the firm, Meier-Gast has established himself as an in-house expert across the spectrum from multi-phased, complex projects to code and plumbing issues. He led the design, documentation, and construction administration of the United States Federal Courthouse in Cedar Rapids in partnership with the nationally recognized design firm William Rawn Associates. This decade-long project necessitated reconciling the goals and objectives of dozens of stakeholders, each with their own set of standards and guidelines, and coordinating a team of 15 consultants and more than 19 government agencies from across the country.

“Jim’s steady hand was instrumental in successfully guiding the courthouse team on a highly technical and complicated GSA Design Excellence Project,” said OPN President and Principal Daniel Thies. “His leadership and management skills were essential in delivering this important civic building on time and on budget.”

Meier-Gast is currently leading the team for another long-term, large-scale design – the new $96.3 million College of Pharmacy Building on the University of Iowa campus, where he’s completed many projects such as the Adler School of Journalism & Mass Communications.

“I’ve worked on a lot of great projects over the years. It’s always that next one that keeps you going,” said Meier-Gast, a Bettendorf native. “I’ve made OPN my home. I grew up in this firm.”

An architect with OPN since 2002, Bowersox has played a critical role in the evolution of OPN’s higher education work. Her passion lies in the ability to positively impact the daily lives of others through her influence within the built environment. Bowersox’s strong leadership skills, repeated project success, and exemplary service to clients has fostered and maintained ongoing relationships with college and university campuses. Her design work enables clients to integrate education focused facilities and experiential learning applications. This variety makes for exciting work that continually changes with the advancement of teaching pedagogies.

“Susan has the rare talent to merge excellent design with extraordinary management. Her capacity to manage detail and complexity is unparalleled,” said OPN Principal Steve Knierim. “She has a passion for learning about and understanding fully each of her clients and building users. For 10 years, her work on more than 16 projects, many delivered in tandem, transformed the campus at Kirkwood Community College”

Her project management experience and skills can be most recently seen in managing and delivering the Hancher Auditorium Replacement, a large complex performing arts facility with a design team comprised of many specialty consultants and world-renowned design architect Pelli Clarke Pelli.

“We influence the environment that people work in and spend time in every day. You can’t get more fulfilling than that. That’s the biggest reward,” said Bowersox, who graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor in architecture in 1996.

The appointments were announced in Minneapolis during OPN’s annual staff retreat. Meier-Gast and Bowersox’s new leadership roles are part of continued growth at OPN Architects throughout all three offices in Cedar Rapids and Des Moines, Iowa, and Madison, Wis. Meier-Gast and Bowersox and the rest of OPN’s leadership team will continue to push the firm to grow their reputation as local and regional leaders in sustainable, accessible, knowledge-based and innovative design.

“OPN has had a lot of firsts in the last five years. We’ve had a lot of those firsts because we’ve pushed forward, challenging our own internal standards,” Bowersox said. “We have to constantly be moving that line, building that forward momentum.”

Other promotions announced along with Meier-Gast and Bowersox’s were the appointment of Justin Bishop and Danielle Hermann as an Associate Principals on OPN’s core leadership team.