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When I meet people, undoubtedly they say, “You have such a cool and creative job.” I am not going to lie, my job is extraordinarily fun and rewarding. And if you’ve ever met me, hopefully you can tell I love what I do for a living. However, I actually don’t think I am the most creative member of my family. My brother, Kent Jackson, was designing golf courses on graph paper when he was in middle school. For Christmas, we might be so lucky as to receive his beautifully accurate pencil drawings as gifts. It really came as no surprise to me when he decided to study architecture at the University of Oregon.


Winemaker Kimberlee Nicholls and her architect brother, Kent Jackson.

Kent has worked hard and risen to the top. He was always striving to be where the ‘cutting edge’ of his profession might take him. His career began in Chicago at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. SOM is one of the largest and most influential architecture, interior design, engineering and urban planning firms in the world. Eager to learn and grow, he jumped at the offer to relocate to the London office. I could see his passion for his craft as he shared his most recent projects on during our time together. His innovative solutions were beautiful, but always addressed a deeper understanding of design. It has been fun to watch his impact as the Design Director of SOM, London. I’m a very proud big sister who knows exactly what it takes to have his commitment to excellence.


JTI headquarters
New JTI Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, as designed by SOM.

Under his leadership, you can see his pioneering approach to integrate both the natural and the man-made environments in each of his projects. His foresight plans for the future of our cities, melding beauty with practicality but also function with design. Seeing photos from where he might be working next on projects allowed me to peek into his busy life as he travels the world. The JTI headquarter building in Geneva, Switzerland, is stunning. A mixed-use skyscraper in Gothenburg, Sweden, captures form with a boldness not usually seen in a 70-story tower. London’s newest and tallest residential building, Manhattan Loft Gardens, will truly focus on the needs of those who will live, eat and play in the Stratford City development when it is completed.


Gothenburg tallest building
SOM has won the bid to design Sweden's tallest tower in Gothenburg. Photo courtesy of Serneke. 

The truth is, seeing my brother in his element as an architect shows me just how serious Kent is about providing solutions for all our lives. Apparently I am not the only one who noticed. Click the link below to watch his TEDtalk, Intelligent Cities: Building for the Future Generations, to see exactly what I mean:


In a strange way, my brother’s job is similar to my own. There is a lot of planning and preparation to create a vision that everyone can appreciate, amidst a myriad of rules and regulations. This is followed by the translation of the vision to those who will build the project, which many don’t understand is a multi-year adventure. Finally, there is the unveiling to the public and critics alike. Kent’s designs will stand for many generations and mine will be consumed within the next several years. I’ll drink to that! - Winemaker Kimberlee Nicholls

PS - Guess I am not the only one to think my little brother is amazing. As of this blog posting, Kent was just made a partner at SOM!