By Katey Springle Lempka
In our ongoing series of RCI member profiles, we highlight André Coppin of Cornerstone Architectural Group. Coppin holds RRO and RRC designations with RCI, and is active with the Puget Sound Chapter and on the Education Committee.
Can you give me a brief overview of what you do in your day-to-day job?
My day-to-day job includes performing duties as the design lead for building envelope-related projects for Cornerstone Architectural Group in Kenmore, Washington. This can range from the reroofing of a large airport concourse to review of flashing details for contractors.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Detailing. An example of this would be the C175 Cold Storage Building roof replacement for the Port of Seattle. I was able to develop the details in order to improve airtightness and reduce frost building up from air leakage.
What is your least favorite part of the job?
I kind of enjoy all aspects of it. If you had to pin me down, I’d say my least favorite part is warranty inspections.
How did you end up professionally where you are today?
I was laid off from Bennet Homes (a large home builder) in Bellevue, WA, at the height of the housing crash in 2008. In searching for jobs, I saw a job posting for a Building Envelope Technologist, and when I read the description, I thought, “I can do that! I know how materials work, I know how to draft, I know how to sketch, and I have construction experience.” It was a really good fit for me and what I studied in college (industrial technology).
Can you tell me a little about your involvement in RCI?
I got involved in RCI under the direction of my then-supervisor, Jon Singleton, who was the former president of the Puget Sound Chapter of RCI; he’s the one I went to work for at Cornerstone. He pushed and got the company to send me to RCI classes, and I got involved, got roped into the [Puget Sound Chapter] board, and became secretary, then rose on up to be president in 2015, and now I’m the professional advisor and sit on the RCI Education Committee .
The Seattle Municipal Tower Level 14 roof replacement. This project involved the reroofing of a triangular-shaped roof with a large chiller tower in the middle. We had to provide roofing under the tower without moving the chiller. The chiller was up 14 stories in the downtown core of Seattle. We were able to design a retrofit roof system that will provide a long service life and stand up to the chemicals from chillers.
What kind of technology do you use on the job?
Any type available to me: moisture readers, AutoCAD, Word, we use it all. We use all the standard fare.
How much and in what way do environmental concerns affect your work?
For me, as a building envelope consultant, that’s the main catalyst that propels me to do what I do. That is why we keep buildings dry, that is why we do insulation upgrades, that’s why I got into design. For me, as a professional, it goes hand in hand to keep in mind the environmental aspect of what we do. It’s not just replacing the roof, it’s keeping people dry, upgrading the insulation to keep energy use down, and choosing the right color roof (white may not always be the best color to use).
What drives you?
My desire to be the best that there is; the best at whatever I do. That comes from primary school, secondary school, and my years in the Barbados Cadet Corps. “I can because I think I can” was my high school’s motto. I always strive to do the best, not to outdo the other person, but because (as I have been taught) if everyone is striving to do their best, then we’re going to have a really good time, and we’re going to provide a good product.
What do you do when you’re not on the job?
Garden and run around behind my three kids, who are 11, nine, and six.
What is one thing most of our readers probably don’t know about you?
I am a percussionist. Specifically, I am a cajón player.
If money were no object, how would you spend your time?
Traveling. I’d go to Europe. And buy a vineyard in France!
Is there anything else you’d like to share with RCI’s members?
Every project is different and deserves in-depth thought. One size does not fit all. I think sometimes we hit the easy button and take things for granted.