Teaming up to change the face of Billings’ professional hot spots, three resourceful professionals from CTA Architects Engineers exercise their talents by keeping an eye on structure, energy efficiency, and visual appeal. These energetic working moms, all under the age of 40, work on a variety of projects including healthcare facilities, financial institutions, and educational buildings.
“We’re assigned to projects at CTA,” points out mechanical engineer and mother of three Raelynn Meissner. “It starts with the needs, wants, and goals of the client,” adds architect Shannon Christensen. “We bring in our team early so everyone knows our client’s vision. Then, it’s the concept of the building — the idea behind it.”
Many familiar buildings you see around town originate from these concepts. Whether the structure happens to be a new-build like Altana Federal Credit Union or Wyndstone Independent Living and Assisted Living, both located in the Heights, or the Olsen Ortho Studio or even Rocky Mountain College’s science building, this trio of Superwomen takes it from start to finish. They’ve worked together for over a decade.
“We’re jacks of all trades,” Meissner, who designs heating and cooling systems, says. “I keep it comfortable for everyone!” Her job involves working these systems into the design of each building, not only for long-term operating/energy bills, but to merge with the aesthetics of the structure.
“We initially have a visioning session with our client and team,” MacKenzie, mom of two daughters, advises. “It’s a fun exercise, a psychological test for clients. They (the clients) pick five of the images we’ve brought and placed on the wall. We discuss each image.” This method allows the team to leave with a strong design concept. “And, we follow through,” she points out.
The trio concurs that each project is a fresh canvas. It evolves from seeing what the clients’ needs are to fulfilling those needs. “There’s so much that goes into a building,” declares Christensen, who recently gave birth to her first child. “No one person makes this happen,” Christensen asserts. “We all sit in one building so it’s easy to work as a team.”
MacKenzie, Christensen, and Meissner each rely on their own unique and distinctive sets of skills; yet, by integrating these talents, the Billings skyline illuminates structures designed with function and the community in mind.