Personnel File - January 2008: Architects
BJAC PA, Raleigh
Too often, Lou Jurkowski says, architects neglect the bottom line. Thus Louis Kahn died destitute and Frank Lloyd Wright filed for bankruptcy. Jurkowski, 55, is determined her firm won’t slouch down that road. She’s known among peers for her canny financial management. Trained at Clemson and in Italy, she has designed plenty of buildings, but these days focuses on running BJAC — short for Brown Jurkowski Architecture Collaborative — one of the state’s leading designers of hospitals and health-care buildings. “I’m an identical twin, and my twin sister runs the largest hydrogen-fuel research facility in the country.” She discusses being a numbers geek in a field of artsy dreamers.
“In high school, I wanted to be an artist - I have a brother who's a sculptor - but I also knew that it was a difficult road and that I had a business head. I take after my grandmother, who was a writer but also ran an orchard.”
“It's a right-brain, left-brain thing. We're half artists, and we're focused strictly on design in college. How many artists do you know who love bookkeeping? Historically, it's been demeaning for us to think about the money. But to be a successful firm, you've got to be successful financially.”
“I realized early on that I could run the business better than others. So I decided to take that over. By doing that, I open up the time and space for the other architects in our firm to do what they love to do best.”