Karen R. Campbell, RA

I love the technical part – the specs, foundations, steel and concrete design, fitting the building sections together, even code review. It’s important for any facility to be functional, practical and comfortable for the people who use it. There has to be a good fit.

Associate Degree, architectural engineering technology (AET)
Midlands Technical College
Columbia, South Carolina

Professional Affiliations
Construction Specifications Institute / Certified Contract Administrator (CCCA)

South Carolina

Karen Campbell likes to put things together.

When she enrolled as a freshman in an interior design program, she made an important discovery: putting together color schemes just wasn’t enough. Feeling a bit at loose ends, she enrolled in a drafting course between the fall and spring semesters and made an even more important discovery: putting buildings together was fun! Her professor suggested she take a look at architectural engineering technology, a degree program that fuses the aesthetics of architectural design with the practical and technical skills of engineering to produce the detailed specifications and documentation that guide construction.

Something clicked. She’d found her calling.

Although the program is comprehensive, earning voluntary certification and professional registration requires extensive field experience and a grueling five-day exam. Karen went to work, gaining hands-on experience in water and sewer design for public utilities, bridge design for an international transportation developer, and commercial design for national retail chains, restaurant franchises, and office and condominium developments. With all the prerequisites assembled, she became a registered architect in 1995 and attained certification in construction contract administration in 1997.

Karen likes structure in her private life, as well. She’s been married forever, she says, and she puts her design and execution talents to work crafting adult and children’s costumes, an unusual hobby that began years ago as a way to help increase participation in the contests her brother’s bar sponsored. These days, outfitting her grandchildren in custom-tailored Halloween costumes or trendy outfits is more her style.

She also alters commercial patterns and makes her own patterns, to achieve a comfortable, custom fit in the clothing she sews for herself and her family. Sewing comes naturally to her, she says, because the key is understanding know how things are put together.

That helps explain why Karen’s insightful approach is so valuable to the firm and its clients. She digs deep into codes, specifications and project programs to identify potential issues and make sure they’re suitably resolved. Her research is thorough, her BSD SpecLink® capabilities are exceptional, and she works seamlessly with owners and developers in both new construction and renovation projects. True to form, several of Karen’s projects have won awards from the local historical society for preservation and adaptive reuse.

Karen’s not happy until the total picture comes together.