Specialist Spotlight: Dallas Nelson, AIA, NCARB


Meet our Public Architecture Specialist

Project Architect Dallas Nelson has been working on public sector projects for nearly ten years now. To look at his design history, it’s clear that Public Architecture projects vary greatly in both size and function.  Currently he’s designing both a 2,000 pentagon shaped Baseball Scorers Building for the Art Dye park in American Fork, and the 43,000 SF Lehi Police building.

With such variety come several challenges. For one, in a Public project there are generally multiple stakeholders involved. Two heads may be better than one, but balancing multiple interests takes a particular set of skills. As Nelson says,“being flexible is important.” The Mapleton Public Safety Building completed in 2010, for example, was significantly changed multiple times over a prolonged 18-month design schedule. “We looked at ways to phase both design and construction,”says Dallas. “It ended up being bid and constructed all at once. But it’s important that we balance unique needs that come up.” Sometimes these unique needs present fun challenges. As mentioned previously, the building in the center of the American Fork baseball complex is pentagon-shaped, with five baseball diamonds surrounding it. The shape may not be traditional, but it makes for a remarkable design for the community it serves.

Happily, Nelson asserts that CMA’s medium firm size allows the capacity to handle large public projects, while also providing high levels of service on smaller projects. Many projects create opportunities for a hands-on relationship with the tenants who will work and serve within the buildings they design. On that memorable first public project, Nelson recalls developing a good relationship with the police, fire, and EMS chiefs. As a sentimental aside, he adds that you “don’t call them by their first names, you always call them ‘Chief’ or ‘Chief Jones.’”

Nelson and his team work on one or two large public projects per year, plus a handful of smaller projects at any one time. Given that, they can really dig in and create designs that are a good fit for the community. “Not all projects are high profile, but all are important to the departments and the citizens who will use them.”