Tom Simister, AIA, LEED AP Joins Payette as Director of Space Strategies


We are pleased to welcome Tom Simister, AIA, LEED AP as Director of Space Strategies.

Tom is a native Houstonian and graduated from UT Austin in 2000 with a BArch. He then worked in San Francisco for three years before moving to Boston where he’s been ever since. Prior to joining Payette, Tom spent seven years at Sasaki where he led the science and technology practice and divided his time between architecture and master planning. Tom also worked at Anshen + Allen, Shepley and Charles Rose Architects. His most recent projects include a new research and learning building for The Ohio State University’s Wooster campus, a new medical school in Moultrie, GA for the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and numerous master planning efforts, notably at Michigan State University, The Ohio State University, Emory University, Smith College and Case Western Reserve University.

 “I live in Arlington with my wife, Kezia, two kids and some cacti. Kezia works as a content developer in the museum exhibit design field and uses her NPR / storytelling background to curate collections and stories for museums, zoos and cultural institutions.

We love to travel, particularly in the American Southwest. We also spent a few months in South America volunteering and exploring in Argentina, Uruguay and Bolivia. I’m into photography, love to cook, swim, play tennis and run – anything to work up a sweat.”

Why do you do what you do?
I love working with people. I love making things. I am fascinated by how people make decisions and design buildings. Anywhere I go, I look around and think – someone decided to do that – it’s revealing, sometimes depressing, but always amusing. I get up each morning hopeful that I’ll find more ways to draw, debate and be inspired.

What are you most excited about in regards to your new role at Payette?
As Director of Space Strategies, I’m excited to enhance our interaction with clients by creating software tools that unleash new design considerations. If we can better estimate demand, understand use patterns and figure out the social and cultural aspects to our clients, we have more inputs with which to be creative. These tools act as a mirror for clients and ourselves to agree on an objective picture of reality. There is so much expertise and energy here – I’m excited to invent these together and convinced that they’ll give Payette an edge. Even more, I’m hopeful that new communication methods lead to an architecture that resonates more deeply with the people from whom it’s designed.

The sky is the limit: what would you redesign?
I would put gardens everywhere. They would always be at arm’s length – at work, home and everywhere between. For me, they are the anchor of every good design.

What inspires you?
Two things, first:
My daughter, Scarlett, is 8 and son, Nico, is 5. The second I walk through the door I’m transported to their world of make believe and wonder. It’s a reminder to see the world differently. The other day, Nico asked if a contrail in the sky was being left by the plane so that it could find its way back. There are always more answers than we think.

As a mediocre longboarder, I’m enthralled with the discipline and zen-like beauty of surfing. I’m inspired by Laird Hamilton’s invention of tow-in surfing and his ride in Teahupo in particular. The ingenuity and combination of engineering, athletic skill, and perseverance is a lesson in taking a craft to new levels.

What’s on your playlist / what are you reading?
I’m reading A Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor to myself and, at bedtime, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix to Scarlett and Nico.

I’m listening to Africando (Vol. 2 – Tierra Tradicional), Bach Cello suites by Anner Bylsma (2nd recording), George Strait, Jason Isbell and the soundtrack to Ken Burns Vietnam documentary.

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