THG Leadership Spotlight: Getting to Know Bill Kavanagh

When did you join The Harman Group?

I joined The Harman Group on Halloween (October 31st) of 2011.

Do you have a favorite project that you have worked on with The Harman Group, now IMEG?

Yes, one of my favorite projects was the vertical expansion of Villanova University’s SAC Garage.  We added 223 parking spaces on two new parking levels to the top of the existing two-level, 270-space garage. The garage was originally designed for a single-level vertical expansion. However, with some foundation upgrades, we were able to add the second additional level.  The project presented other technical challenges as well, which are outlined in my “Villanova University Rises Up” blog post.  The before and after photographs show the stark transformation.   A plain, two-level garage that was recessed into a sloped site became a much more substantial building on the campus.  As such, the architecture of the garage was enhanced with the addition of stone-clad buttresses and a new elevator tower to better match the campus architecture.

What do you enjoy most about working at The Harman Group, now IMEG?

I enjoy working with my extremely talented colleagues at The Harman Group, now IMEG Corp.  As an architect that specializes in parking garage design, I have learned so much about building structural systems from our structural engineers.  In our mixed-use projects with parking, understanding how the structure of the garage and the structure of the other use groups interrelate is extremely important.  It allows us to optimize the structure on these projects, resulting in cost savings that can help make the project become a reality.  This capability to provide both parking design services and structural engineering expertise in all building types is a significant differentiator for our firm compared to other parking consulting firms and other structural engineering firms.  This technical expertise that The Harman Group is known for will continue with IMEG Corp.

Is there a dream project that you would like to work on?

I don’t know if I would use the word “dream project” but I enjoy working on projects where I can bring my experience and expertise to bear in such a way that it results in bringing significant value and cost savings to a project.  I take pride when I can remind a client about the $2 million they saved by accepting my suggestions and recommendations.  It matters how the parts of a project are arranged and assembled.

What is your favorite/most challenging part of your job?

My favorite part about what I do is trying to figure out how to build a better “mousetrap”.  I enjoy consulting when I can make an improvement to an existing design with simple and straightforward changes that are obvious advances on the initial design.  Showing how to get the same number of parking spaces within 10% less square foot area is hard to argue against.

The most challenging part of the job is to help others understand how big a role parking design plays in the design of their projects.  Parking is not the sexy part of the project, but it is a huge determinant of form.   Too often, I am brought in too late after too many decisions have been made and finalized.  It is disappointing to see when opportunities are missed.

What industry trend is most exciting to you right now?

Mixed-use!  I joined the Harman Group 11 years ago because they had the expertise in both parking garage design and structural engineering of all other building types.   I was seeing more and more garage projects becoming part of mixed-use projects.  Yes, we do freestanding garages all the time, but it’s almost at the point where just doing a parking garage is a missed opportunity or an underutilization of the land.  Many of our projects have a parking garage wrapped with another use and a tower on top.  Most parking consulting firms just do parking garages.  They may not have experience in designing offices, hotels and residential structures.   The Harman Group, now IMEG Corp., is well-positioned for this type of work – our expertise is both with all building-type projects and parking garages as well as their combination.

Can you share a story about what you feel is one of your biggest professional career accomplishments?

Like any professional, when an architect passes their licensing exam, it’s a significant milestone in their career.  It takes years of education and work experience just to qualify to sit for the exam.  After that, every time a project you design become a reality it’s a source of pride and accomplishment.  Although my sons don’t appreciate it as much when we are driving around town and I keep pointing out our projects to them.

What is your favorite out of work activity?

I really enjoy golf especially at outings during work hours 😊, vacationing on Cape Cod and spending time with my family.

What don’t most people know about you?

I was the sixth-highest scorer in the freshman division of the 1983-84 Central Massachusetts Mathematics League!