Member Spotlight: Kerry May
The Air Barrier Association of America (ABAA) dives inside the career of Kerry May, Architect & Senior Director of Building Enclosure Design
for OAC Services, Inc. in Seattle, WA. In this feature interview, learn what made him become an ABAA member, what led him on his career path, and get his perspective on the future of the air barrier industry.
Kerry specializes in building enclosure design for new construction and existing buildings. His architectural background and knowledge of building systems allows him to perform a wide range of tasks for OAC’s Building Enclosure and Forensic Architecture and Engineering practice groups, including construction document preparation, field observations, construction administration, and forensic and failure investigations. Kerry has completed building enclosure design services for K-12 education facilities, higher education facilities, residential, and commercial developments. In addition, Kerry has experience in project management, scheduling, document review, 3D modeling, WUFI analysis, infrared thermography, and construction planning.
Name: Kerry May
Title: Architect / Senior Director – Building Enclosure Design
Firm: OAC Services, Inc.
City: Seattle, WA
ABAA member for 7 years
What was the path to your career — how and why did you pursue a profession as an Architect and Building Enclosure Consultant?
A: I grew up knowing I wanted to be an architect, but I’ve always been focused on functionality and “how it’s constructed.” Through college I butted heads with my professors because I designed buildings where function followed form, and the aesthetic often took a backseat to structure, envelope and how it mitigated water, and how the sun affected the indoor environment. I was hired by OAC straight out of college and was immediately involved in a structural failure project, a project that due to multiple construction defects was demolished at only 10 years old, and was hooked on this niche profession.
Is there anything that you believe everyone in this industry should be working towards?
A: Healthy and enjoyable indoor environments with buildings able to “breath”, airtight but vapor permeable, to ensure longevity and performance of the technology available.
What role have peers, mentors, or advisors played in your career?
A: My mentor, Randy Hart, was a leader in the forensic investigation and expert witness field in the Seattle area and on the west coast. His guidance and knowledge of architecture and buildings, along with showing me the many ways buildings fail, have allowed me to apply this knowledge to new construction and re-cladding aging, under-performing structures. His mentorship gave me the clarity in my path to follow what I love to do (fixing buildings and making sure buildings are constructed properly) and provided me to opportunity to do so.
What led you to become an ABAA member?
A: Air-tightness and enclosure performance is at the forefront of new building design. As an enclosure consultant, it is important to be a part of an organization and membership that offers so many unique perspectives from all areas of the country.
Are you involved in any ABAA committees? Do you have any ABAA certifications?
A: Not at this time. Currently looking into CABS and/or BCxP.
How long have you been in the industry?
A: Almost 15 years
What major changes have you seen?
A: Materials. Technology in building materials have come a long way in 15 years – with the ability of building performance components to be able to dually shed water and allow vapor permeance, as well as providing a continuous air barrier are proving extremely effective in the overall performance and longevity of new buildings.
What traits or skills do you think are necessary to be able to succeed in your industry?
A: Knowing how moisture moves through walls and how buildings fail provide unique perspective to new construction and the architectural fields. I’ve always said being a building enclosure consultant and architect have “ruined” the beauty of architecture for me, because I instantly look for “problem” areas – building transitions, missing flashing, and other visible building components that may be beautiful, but pose problems to the performance of a building.
Do you have any advice for anyone starting out in your field?
A: Common theme with me and our firm, learn how buildings are constructed and how buildings fail.
How much demand do you think there is for people in your profession?
A: The demand continues to grow – with the mounting code restrictions and requirements, it is becoming essential for a Design team to have a BE Consultant on board early, to discuss how the four envelopes (water, air, vapor, thermal) interact with the design intent and with each other.
What do you think the industry will look like in five or ten years’ time?
A: In five to ten years, buildings will continue to get tighter from an air leakage perspective, and construction will shift to more pre-fabricated or modular methods because there is more quality (therefore cost) control and much less waste when building components are constructed in a controlled environment.