Your name: Jeff Eaton
What do you do at Iconica? Design Project Manager
How long have you worked here? 22 years
What do you love about your job?
The variety of project types we get to work on, the coworkers, and the design-build business model.
What led you to the design field?
In grade school, I was very interested in visual arts, and as early as junior high I enjoyed drawing, painting and sculpting. Initially, I started my career as a landscape architect. I received my bachelor’s degree in Landscape Architecture in Idaho. For graduate school, I attended the University of Illinois Champaign, and while there I decided I wanted more involvement in the entire site development, not just what is outside of the building. Landscape design holds many parallels to the design process; many of the same problems still apply, such as verticals, horizontal differentiations, and more; it just uses different materials and takes a different approach to a problem. To this day I am still very interested in landscape design; it can take various forms, whether inside of a business park or an urban setting, and ultimately take on a life of its own.
What is most exciting about your job?
I enjoy seeing a client’s vision materialize first through drawings, and then in a final constructed form.
How has design, architecture, and interior design changed since you started at Iconica?
Computers are the most significant change. We use them as tools both in production and in the ability to quickly prepare an image for clients to view. Technology has changed norms and capabilities but has also made the process more efficient.
Were you interested in design as a child? Not that I remember.
What are some of your favorite projects you have worked on?
There are many. While I enjoy seeing the final product (the building), I ultimately remember the relationships with clients and subcontractors more.
• Throughout my landscape days, I was very involved in the plan for Harriman State Park in Idaho.
• With Iconica, I designed our world headquarters, Athena. It was my first project; at the time, we were located further down Excelsior Drive.
• The Bishops Bay project stands out to me since it was a process different. There, we worked with a committee vs. just one or two people. While at times that can be difficult to manage all the moving pieces, we were still able to work through a variety of design needs and wants.
• Group Health Cooperative — GHC — is a great client. They are engaged, practical, and they value the design-build model. We have done lots of interior remodels for them.
• Currently, I am focusing on an entrance to the Dean building. It’s a front entry that includes all outside work, sidewalk design, and sequence. It’s bringing me back to my original roots with landscaping.
Who is someone that you would like to interview or meet?
My great grandparents, I’d like to research and learn more about them so I can get a better understanding of their life and my roots.
Favorite song to sing in the car?
I’m a Pink Floyd person, but they don’t have the best songs to sing along to.
What would you say to someone considering working with Iconica?
Speaking from the designer’s point of view, you always can be responsible and accountable for your work, which is very rewarding.
How often do you work with other departments at Iconica?
As much as I can. Design is only one function that allows the company to flourish.
Dream vacation? Soaking in a backcountry hot springs with friends under a starry sky.
How do you stay on top of architecture trends?
I attend the Wisconsin AIA convention and read architectural magazines. TV shows and commercials also often have exciting viewpoints on architecture.
Do you have a dream project?
No, I think the clients make the project memorable, not the building.
Best advice your mother or father gave you?
Nothing comes to mind; I guess I was not paying attention
If you weren’t in the design field, what would you be doing?
I would be a park ranger at a national park.
Zion, Yellowstone, Kilauea in Hawaii, or Volcanoes National Park.
Favorite snack food? Cheetos
What does a regular day look like for you?
Each day is different. Usually, they consist of a mix of project scheduling, concept design, design details, client meetings, and problem-solving.
What are some of the benefits of working at Iconica as a designer?
We work on a variety of building types and have very close communication with project superintendents in the field.
It was Captain Crunch when I was younger. Now it’s Kashi.
Are you a morning or night person?
Neither — I’m a middle of the day person.
What is something most people don’t know about you?
I was on the cover of a University of Idaho college catalog in 1977.