A Conversation With Douglas Stieve, Prinicpal at Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc

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Douglas Stieve, building envelope consultant and Principal at WJE boasts more than 25 impressive years within the industry.  Stieve has managed the design and construction services for several multimillion-dollar repair and rehabilitation projects. We sat down with the Valhalla, New York native to discuss his impressive career journey and his thoughts on working in NYC… 

Adler Windows: You graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 1989 and began working with WJE in 1991. How did you spend those two years between college and WJE?

Douglas Stieve: After college, I moved back to Westchester where I worked for an Architectural firm that mainly focused on new construction. I really enjoyed it and it was a great stepping-stone until of-course the market fell. I joined WJE in 1991 as a Draftsperson in their Princeton office.  In 2000, I relocated when WJE opened its office in Manhattan.

AW: How did your career change when you moved to New York City?

DS: I wouldn’t say it changed as much as it flourished. I had begun designing for serval multimillion-dollar repair and rehabilitation projects, as years went by I began to manage these teams and on top of that I was providing consulting services to architects, contractors, and owners for new buildings. In 2007, I made Principal at the firm and now my work consists of 60%-70% new construction façade and roofing restoration.

AW: Did you always want to study Architecture?

DS: Always, of course not, but I would say I knew since I was in high school. I loved creating matchstick models of stadiums and the likes. I got into drafting in school and that is when I decided to go to the University of Oklahoma to study Architecture.

AW: Why did you decide to specialize in building envelopes?

DS: I noticed a niche within WJE in relation to repairs and restoration. We call ourselves building doctors, it really is forensics. We figure out why something and how something went wrong during the construction of a building’s façade. Our job is to correct the issue. This led to undertaking building envelope construction work with both new and old buildings.

AW:  What do you consider your biggest professional achievement to date?

DS: The ability to work with a great company and the same inspiring people for more than 20 years

AW: Has there been any major influences in your career? A mentor perhaps?

DS: Kimball Beasley, one of our senior principals who founded the New York office – I would say he has been my primary mentor throughout my career.

AW: You have authored several articles, technical papers, and lectured throughout the US. Is this an aspect of your career you always wanted to venture into or how did it come about?

DS: This is all down to the incredible leadership team at WJE. They encourage their employees to take the lead and to publish articles, conduct lectures and ultimately spread our knowledge and expertise. They gave me the push I needed and now it is an aspect of my job that I thoroughly enjoy.

AW: How do you envision the next ten years of your career?

DS: If I continue to do what I am doing, and continue to work with such incredible people on large innovative projects, I will be a very, very happy man.

AW:  What are the unique challenges that you face working as a building envelope consultant in NYC?

DS: Keeping up with the pace of new construction work and trying to stay flexible to changing policies.

AW: And the opportunities?

DS: Whoa, where to begin. The opportunities are tremendous. Just step outside and look around, there are new projects and restorations taking place everywhere. Honestly, New York City is the best place for Architects. There are so many talented people here working on projects in New York City and in all four corners of the globe.

AW: What advice would you give to someone who is currently trying to make it in the industry?

DS: Team up with a mentor, and be a sponge to take in the knowledge.

AW: Tell us your favorite thing about working in New York City?

DS: The pace and culture, NYC is a melting pot.