AIA SD Member profile – Jamie Ohrt

Jamie Ohrt

Jamie Ohrt


Architectural Graduate

TSP, Inc.

Why did you decide to become an architect/design professional?

After working in zoological institutions for a number of years, I found that zoos and aquariums with their highly specific needs didn’t seem to be receiving the necessary attention in the design process to meet the needs of the primary users- the animals. I believe that architects needed to push the envelope of how we consider design as a solely human experience and start considering how our design work for and affect other species both in the wild and in human care.

What excites you about your industry?

I believe that zoological design has historically be overlooked by architects and designers as a hybridization of parks, museums, and prison type architecture and there is so much potential and on-going work to change that perception and move this group into its own building type. By moving this building type forward it creates not only great opportunity to re-envision how zoos are perceived but offers greater challenges to designers who no longer design for 1 species, but instead for potentially hundreds of users with drastically different needs and requirements.

What types of projects do you most like to engage in?

I am most excited by projects with strong ties to conservation whether through sustainable design, strong connection to landscape architecture, and those that seeks to engage the natural world with not only the built spaces but those that relate with the world outside the front doors.

Tell us about your path to licensure and/or your work history?

I am relatively new to the world of architecture having spent much of my career working in animal care for various species such as bears, big cats, hoofstock, and primates but I have used that knowledge working as an Assistant Project Manager at the ABQ BioPark to oversee smaller in-house construction projects and participating in large scale designs for new and remodeled habitats such as their upcoming Asia expansion, Australia renovation, and Heritage Farm overhaul. After moving to South Dakota, I remained with the BioPark as an off-site consultant and began assisting the Great Plains Zoo on schematic layouts for their upcoming Black Bear Renovation which was picked up by TSP for completion of the project. Shortly after I was able to secure a position with TSP where I am now employee and working towards gaining my AXP hours with examinations and licensure in the not-too-distant future.

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