Staff Spotlight: Micajah Tucker

Micajah Tucker’s journey of designing dreams from Legos to college residence halls and office buildings.

Micajah Tucker
August 30, 2023

Micajah graduated summa cum laude from Virginia Tech where his undergraduate thesis explored the expressive and sculptural nature of structural elements through the lens of a music conservatory. Since graduation, Micajah has gained experience working on a variety of project types, ranging from residential to local pop-up shops and new construction to additions to existing buildings. Micajah is currently working on Claflin Hall at Wellesley College.

Q: What inspired you to become an architect/designer?

Both drawing and Legos. I enjoyed drawing and building with Legos growing up, and these interests were enough for me to apply to architecture school. I quickly found out that the profession was much more than I realized! I particularly enjoyed the iterative process and critical thinking that I was exposed to during my first-year design studio. From five years of architecture school and approximately four working, I’ve grown to appreciate the breadth and variety of the profession. Architects tackle a wide range of tasks; it seems like there is always something new to learn!

Q: If you could give advice to a young designer what would you say?

Be observant! We spend much of our time interacting with design, whether it be the built environment or objects we use every day. I believe there is value, intention, and insight for designers in almost every corner. Speculating on why something was built or made in a certain way can be a fun and informative exercise, particularly as you learn more about design through experience or education.

Q: Do you have any guiding design principles in your process?

Iteration and being willing to work through multiple solutions to a problem has always been important to me. While it can be difficult to question and move beyond an initial idea, I’ve found the act of testing several related or juxtaposed concepts through hand sketching or modeling can lead to a better understanding and rationale for either the initial concept or a completely new idea that would not have been reached otherwise.

Q: What have been some of your career highlights/proudest achievements so far?

At this early stage of my career, my proudest achievement has been winning the Pella Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Thesis at Virginia Tech. Each year’s thesis students would pin-up their work in the architecture building lobby, and I always enjoyed seeing the older students’ work. Students and faculty would select approximately five projects whose designers would give a final presentation to the school. After observing this event for four years, I was excited to be apart of it and humbled that my work was selected at the end of the process.

Micajah Tucker accepting the Pella Prize for Excellence

Q: Do you have a favorite city to visit for architecture?

I spent a semester in Chicago during school, and I enjoyed learning about the early history of the skyscraper. The fact that you can visit an all-masonry “skyscraper” (the Monadnock Building) and one of the tallest buildings in the world (the Willis Tower) in a single day speaks to the range of buildings that make up the city’s skyline. The Chicago Architecture Foundation boat tour is a great way to experience this variety from a unique perspective. Additionally, a few hours’ drive northwest to the Wisconsin towns of Racine, Spring Green, and Madison can provide a contrasting experience to the bustle of Chicago. Taliesin, Wingspread, and the Johson Wax building are a few Frank Lloyd Wright highlights from the itinerary.  

Micajah's sketch of the Romeo and Juliet Windmill at Taliesin

Q: Do you have a favorite building or perhaps a favorite architect?

I grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee, which is a relatively small city compared to Boston. Despite its size, Chattanooga has an excellent aquarium and art museum in the form of the Tennessee Aquarium and the Hunter Museum respectively. Both buildings feature prominently on the city’s skyline and waterfront. As I’ve visited more cities in the US, I’ve realized how unusual it is for a city of Chattanooga’s scale to have such well-designed cultural institutions. In fact, the Tennessee Aquarium was designed by Cambridge Seven, the same architects who designed the New England Aquarium in Boston and the National Aquarium in Baltimore.

View of the Tennessee Aquarium from the Tennessee River

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