#CTASpotlight | Kyle Johnson:
The Outdoor Architect

By: Jordan Miller
9 August 2018

If you spent an hour talking to Kyle Johnson, you’d hear the words “super,” “stoked,” and “excited” a lot. His enthusiasm is almost frighteningly off the charts and comes with a tremendous amount of warmth and humor. In that hour alone you would get a sense for his good nature and his talent for making others feel welcome and comfortable, and you’d more than likely wonder when you’re going to get to spend another hour with the guy.

Kyle grew up in Dallas, TX, which is frankly difficult to believe. These days, when he’s not practicing architecture he’s probably climbing a mountain with a pair of skis tucked under his left arm and a mountain bike tucked under his right. Truly, his name is synonymous with cycling, rock climbing, and other outdoor sports that are not at all compatible with a Dallas childhood.

The discrepancy can be explained by his parents, who were both action sport fanatics. His dad was a skateboarder and both parents raced motorcycles. When Kyle was in the first grade, his dad underwent major knee surgery because of a wakeboarding accident. A doctor suggested engaging in some light cycling to build his quadriceps and protect his knee. Kyle’s dad took this as permission to buy a bike and throw himself off a mountain.

Surprisingly, he survived. Unsurprisingly, he was hooked.

He proceeded to bring Kyle along for his next ride, and it was love at first pedal. Kyle’s first competitive race was in 1997, and it’s been a consistent part of his life ever since. A curious person, he is always excited to see where races and practice bring him: from the tops of mountains to lake basins, from city blocks to middle-of-nowhere ghost towns. Eventually, he wandered out of Texas and into his spiritual homeland of Colorado, where he currently lives.

He keeps up his racing in and around Denver, most recently excited by a type of race called cyclocross, which he openly admits is whacky to the point of sounding made up. In it, racers complete laps around a short loop ladened with sharp turns, steep climbs, and even obstacles that requires racers to dismount and run with their bikes on their shoulders. Kyle mentioned that one of the reasons he loves cyclocross is because it’s more fun for his friends and family to watch, which, well, says a lot about his character.

In between weekend cycling trips (And ski trips. And rock climbing trips. And hiking trips. And…), Kyle is an architect in CTA’s Denver office. He never really intended to live in Colorado, but one day made a wrong turn on his way home from CTA’s Austin office and never looked back. He also didn’t grow up with the dream of becoming an architect. In fact, he used to tell people that he wanted to be a dentist, but can’t for the life of him remember why. When he applied for college, though, something compelled him to check the architecture box. Quite simply, he says that it sounded like the most fun option on the list.

Looking back, architecture was the always the right fit, even if Kyle couldn’t see it. He had a background in visual art was the quintessential image of the kid always reaching for the LEGO pieces over the other toys. Affectionately, he remembers following any set of instructions only once (if at all) before breaking the blocks apart, mixing them up, and experimenting with different shapes and connections to see what he could create.

Kyle understands architecture to be the halfway point between the science of construction and the art of design. As a project architect, he spends a large part of his day working on drawings. He is constantly handed new LEGO pieces and tasked with fitting them all together. He’s driven by problem solving and the satisfaction of finding just the right way to make every detail of a building fall perfectly into place.

The cherry on top of his job is the office he gets to do it in. Although it’s growing, Denver maintains a tight crew, both in numbers and community. He treasures the fact that it’s not unreasonable to invite everyone out to happy hour or to a barbeque movie night, and that he struggles to think of something his coworkers might not know about him. The feeling, without a doubt, is mutual: Kyle’s attitude in the office is cherished, his work appreciated, and his presence treasured. (But of course he really misses everyone in Austin, too!)

The #CTASpotlight series features the unique stories of team members from the many CTA offices and disciplines. Find more stories like this one here.

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    • Kendra 4 months ago

      Awesome!

    • Kidist 4 months ago

      Amazing!