Senior Project Coordinator Excels at Community-Based Architecture
The Platt/Whitelaw team is a tapestry of diverse backgrounds and talents. Our newest member, James Mason, adds a unique thread to our rich fabric. James has a passion for creating exceptional spaces and a portfolio of people-centric projects that both anchor and elevate their surrounding communities.
“Throughout my career, I’ve been privileged to work on a multitude of community serving projects from start to finish,” James said. From programming and design through construction and closeout, the entirety of James’ career has centered on bringing public and community-based projects to life.
He joins our firm as a senior project coordinator.
A Path to Serving Others
James’ interest in design was sparked in high school. While he harbored an interest in art, his limited drawing skills posed a hurdle. His mother’s keen eye and wisdom would set him on a different path.
“She suggested I take drafting so I could use a straight edge,” James joked. “I never looked back.”
Raised in the Lone Star State, James studied architecture at the University of Texas, San Antonio, where he met his wife, Rita, a Carlsbad native. Early in his career, he gravitated toward public projects. While he doesn’t consider this an intentional choice, it’s one he’s wholly embraced.
Over his 20+ year career, he’s worked closely with local groups and organizations to ensure the schools, libraries, life safety facilities, hospitals and other spaces he’s designed positively impact communities.
When asked about his proudest career moment, James pauses. He then describes the wonder and awe he witnessed when children — and adults alike — entered the Texas State Aquarium’s Caribbean Journey. The 71,000-sqaure-foot exhibit had been decades in the making. In 2017, right before James relocated to San Diego, the aquarium’s epic adventure through coastal forests, Mayan Ruins, a shipwreck and coral reefs opened to the public. James had successfully brought the human and animal worlds together.
James says he also cherishes memories at school opening, and reopening, events when school principals couldn’t contain their tears of joy. They knew the new spaces would profoundly impact student lives.
Strengthening the local community
Coming from a larger firm solely focused on educational design, James was drawn to Platt/Whitelaw’s diversity of projects, more personal and engaging work environment and tangible community impact.
Today, he works closely with the County of San Diego to transform behavioral healthcare services. He leads the East Region Crisis Stabilization Unit project. It’s a center, in the heart of downtown El Cajon, that will provide individuals with immediate mental health and substance abuse support and treatment services in a therapeutic setting.
Simultaneously, he leads the restoration of the Old Logan Heights Library building. The project requires a delicate balance to preserve its historical integrity while ensuring modern usability and accessibility.
Committed to Protecting the Past
Beyond his design pursuits, James finds fulfillment in preserving his community’s history through both its architectural and human connections. James spent many years with the San Antonio Conservation Society helping safeguard the city’s residential structures over a century old. Today, he connects with his aging, often isolated, neighbors in Oceanside by volunteering with Meals on Wheels.