Ed Twohey on
May 16, 2021
Chatting with Jack Callahan immediately reveals one thing: he loves the craft of architecture. This may not be surprising as vetreran project architect, what you will find though, is that his work is so much more than his job, It’s truly his passion.
Mr. Callahan found his love for design the way a lot of kids in his generation did, through the wonderful world of Legos. But pair his Lego love with the original Star Wars films and what you’re left with isn’t Jack. Plenty of people grew up loving both and didn’t turn to the craft. No, it was a specific set of circumstances that brought Jack to where he is today.
Growing up in the heart of the rural Midwest, Jack saw his parents work hard to afford his wellbeing. When I say work hard, I mean it literally. Jack’s father is a now retired professional boxer/firefighter who instilled in him the importance of dedication to your craft. His mother, who instructs elementary school students, taught him the importance of creative endeavors. And, like any hard-working Hoosier from northern Indiana, Jack was thrilled to study at the University of Notre Dame. It was there that his childhood entertainment started to shape the trajectory of his career.
Part of the School of Architecture’s curriculum is their required Rome Studies program. During this time, undergrads spend an entire academic year in Rome. Jack feels lucky to call this program a requirement. The experience puts an emphasis on urbanism and traditional city architecture. Jack saw more than just history in the ancient ruins of Rome, though. He saw designs and styles that have been replicated not only throughout modern history, but have also been imitated in the pop culture pieces he’s loved since childhood. He calls them the imprints of history. The Pantheon in Rome is a particular source of inspiration for Jack. It’s a building that he says is still so full of mystery, even down to the recipe of the cement. Studying and learning in Rome was an experience Jack won’t soon forget.
Whether across the world or across the city, Mr. Callahan loves to authentically experience cultures through travel. While the pandemic prevented any long-distance traveling, it also allowed Jack the opportunity to bike around the city and to construction job sites, a habit he picked up from none of than bba Principal, Gary Beyerl. Jack works closely on projects with Gary and recalled some of the work he’s most proud of working on with him.
The Lincoln Park Transformation was one of those projects. Clients came to BBA with a 3-flat residence and wanted to convert it into a single-family home. They had a modest budget, which meant the team had to be conscientious yet creative with their plan. Jack and Gary worked together to keep the structural walls and totally transform the inside.
“A lot of it was just taking the best of what you have to make it even better” he explained to me.
The pandemic slowed work down for BBA initially, but nowadays Jack is busier than ever. Currently he is leading a double lot Landmarks project in his home neighborhood of Wicker Park and is enjoying working with the design team on a new “dream home'' project in Chicago’s North Shore. Like so many others, he misses being in the office with his team but he’s trying to make the best of it and use the time at home as a means of deeper focus on this craft he loves so much.