Adam Harding, AIA first set his sights on being an architect in high school when he realized his passion for drawing, creating and building could converge into a career. Ambitious from an early age, Harding had high expectations for himself: excel in his architecture classes at University of Colorado Boulder and graduate with his degree as quickly as possible. He was ready to start his career as an architect.
After graduating, he planned to take some time off to fish before finding a job, but as luck would have it, he met Herb Roth as he was moving out for the summer—Roth’s daughter was a friend and neighbor of Harding’s.
Four weeks later, Harding began his now-fourteen-year career at Roth Sheppard Architects. Founders Jeff Sheppard and Herb Roth retired earlier this year, at which point Harding and Brian Berryhill, AIA took over as the owners of the firm.
“When I started that first day at Roth Sheppard, I realized I knew nothing about architecture,” Harding laughs. “It was a big learning curve and I was lucky to be working at such a great firm.”
Roth Sheppard’s high expectations for both design and service were a perfect match for Harding’s goal-setter mindset.
“I was able to work on great projects and learn from Herb and Jeff,” Harding said. They also were supportive of his goal to get licensed by the age of 30—a goal which Harding actually completed at age 29—and of his professional growth as a leader.
In 2011, the firm partners encouraged Harding to attend a three-day management seminar, which was an experience that he now realizes was pivotal. It allowed Harding to analyze where he was in his career and where he’d like to go in the future, equipped him with new management skills, and you guessed it—encouraged him to set new goals.
“Up to that point, my goal was just to become licensed. But then I thought, ‘Now what do I do to keep pushing myself forward?’” Harding remembered.
His new goals were to be recognized for his work as an architect, to get more involved in the community and to develop as a leader in the profession.
“That’s when I started getting involved with AIA Colorado. I didn’t want to feel like I was an architect just stuck in the daily grind. I wanted to get the most out of my job and push myself to continually be the best I can, not just in my daily practice, but also in terms of advocacy, outreach and community,” Harding said.
One of his goals at that time was to become AIA Colorado Young Architect of the Year within five years. He accomplished it in three. He also received the AIA Western Mountain Region Young Architect of the Year in 2015, AIA Denver Young Architect of the Year in 2014, and has won design awards for his projects, including Blue Moon Brewery, which won a 2017 AIA Colorado Denver Design Excellence Award.
He also got involved on the Emerging Professionals Committee, which was a stepping stone for serving as the AIA Colorado Board Treasurer for the past two years. Now, Harding is running unopposed for 2019 President-Elect & 2020 President of AIA Colorado.
“I think I have an internal drive to become the best that I can become. I don’t necessarily know what the means specifically, but I want to always learn and push forward in a positive direction,” he said. “I’ve always had this feeling of wanting to work hard and be great at whatever I take on. I may fail at first, but it is the continual drive of passion and perseverance that keeps pushing me to succeed and grow.”
Whether he achieved the goals he set or not, Harding found that the most valuable part was working toward an accomplishment and learning along the way. He also believes that it is his responsibility as an architect to continually improve the profession and the community.
“I want to do as much as I can to help our profession. We need to grow as leaders so that we can be at the table when important decisions are made the affect our communities, especially since we’re the ones tasked with designing these places,” said Harding.
In addition to his service to the profession, Harding has spent the last several months stepping into the role of firm owner and leader. He and Berryhill are excited to build upon Roth Sheppard’s 30-year legacy, while also advancing the firm into the future and designing even better projects.
Understanding the importance of a strong and collaborative team, Harding and Berryhill started with an all-staff workshop to define the group’s new vision for the future, and of course, set new goals for themselves and the firm.
“We knew what our vision was, but we wanted the team to get involved and help us define our group culture and values,” said Harding. “Brian and I did a lot of listening and information gathering and created a process that was an open dialogue.”
On top of his role as a leader, Harding remains as energized as ever by his work as an architect. In fact, you’ve likely eaten or grabbed a beer at one of his designs.
“[Working on] Blue Moon Brewery was fantastic. It was a great client, creative and a fun process understanding the 20-year history and brand and translating that into a branded architectural identity,” Harding said. “Izakaya Den is another one of my favorites. It was very technical, very custom and unique because we had to do a lot of research on the history of Japanese Izakayas and sake dens.”
But the best part of these projects, Harding insists, is the growth and learning. Each finished project informs a new goal: “How do I take what I learned on the last one and try to do it better on the next?”