Speaking of Design

Speaking of Design

There’s a story behind every structure in our world. Speaking of Design brings to life the engineering, architecture and science that create the world around us. The show centers on innovative infrastructure that makes cities more efficient, breathtaking architecture that changes the way we feel about our communities, and restoration of our natural resources to preserve them for future generations. Some of the most distinguished professionals in the industry join Danny Sullivan and John Tourek of HDR to bring you stories and sounds from the world of engineering, architecture and beyond.

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Episode 3

Rebuilding A War-Torn Country with Hope

Rebuilding Afghanistan

As U.S. forces drew down in Afghanistan, a new phase of counterinsurgency strategy took place. In support of the U.S. Department of Defense, an Air Force Civil Engineer Center program sought to strengthen Afghanistan’s national security by building new universities, government buildings, training sites, barracks, recruiting stations, air bases, roads, bridges and other facilities needed for the country’s security forces. However, for the American construction management team providing leadership, oversight and training, the program amounted to more than the facilities. It was about creating professional jobs for Afghans, boosting the economy and providing hope.

Meet the Team

Meet the Team

The construction management team brought military and Middle East experience to the program, which included more than 300 buildings across 46 project sites in 10 regions of Afghanistan. Together, this group has led a team of engineers and professionals supporting the U.S. Department of Defense and other federal clients for more than a decade.

Serving as a program manager, Chewy Johnston brought experience as a U.S. Air Force Officer with over 20 years of active duty service in the Middle East and around the world. He accumulated over 3,000 hours of flying experience and flew 40 combat missions over Iraq.  

The program director, Sean O’Brien, graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy before spending nearly a decade as an Air Force Civil Engineering Officer serving on a variety installations and projects. 

Pictured second from the left, Nick Acay served as a project manager, bringing nearly a decade of experience serving U.S. Department of Defense clients, including the last seven years leading construction management projects in Iraq, Afghanistan and Qatar. 

The program’s quality control manager, Bill Wright, spent nearly 24 years in the U.S. Navy, where he served as a Surface Warfare and Surface Tactics Officer, among several other roles around the world. 

Episode 2

How a Storm Sewer Project Led to Designing an Urban Oasis

Atlanta's Historic Fourth Ward Park

Just north of the birthplace of Martin Luther King, Jr., Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward neighborhood had fallen into a state of disrepair. Described by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as “a barren expanse of cracked concrete, weeds and towering trees surviving against a background of neglect,” the area was filled with abandoned buildings and prone to sewer overflows. But rather than going forward with a typical storm sewer expansion, residents of the area saw an opportunity to solve the overflow problem with a solution that transformed the entire neighborhood.

Meet Robby Bryant

Robby Bryant, HDR

Robby Bryant’s enthusiasm for designing outdoor spaces started as a kid, when he developed admiration for his cousin's successful career as an architect. Robby found his calling in landscape architecture, and today he’s a professional landscape architect and certified planner in his native Atlanta. A competitive cyclist and frequent bicycle commuter, Robby has taken an interest in designing projects that successfully integrate pedestrian and bicycle connections within public spaces.


Episode 1

Meet a Landfill That's Greener than Grass

When you think of landfills, you may not think of design. But like almost every type of engineering or architectural design, landfills have changed dramatically over the last 30 years. In the pilot episode of Speaking of Design, you’ll meet one engineer who’s taken landfill design to a new level, creating a source of renewable solar energy at Atlanta’s Hickory Ridge Landfill.

Meet Mark Roberts 

Mark Roberts, HDR

Mark Roberts (pictured right) has had a passion for garbage trucks ever since he was a little kid playing with his Matchbox cars. As a senior project manager in HDR’s Jacksonville office, Mark brings that same enthusiasm to solid waste engineering. In his spare time, Mark is an active mentor with the University of Florida chapter of Engineers Without Borders.