Tammy Chambless recently celebrated her 30-year anniversary with GFF, a mark of her many significant achievements and influence on what GFF has become.
Tammy hails from Pampa, Texas and received her architectural degree from the University of Texas, Austin. When she walked through our door in the Spring of 1984, we were impressed with many things, but I remember two in particular; 1) she was with the very influential John Portman & Associates in Atlanta, whose work and soaring atria captivated both the public and the profession in the 70s and 2) she was the first architect we knew that had actually used this new thing called CAD. Fortunately for us, Tammy decided that our little firm of 15 looked pretty good to her and she left the peach tree-covered hills of Atlanta to come home to Texas and join us.
Since then, Tammy has been a pioneer in many areas. She not only help us learn that “new CAD thing,” but also guided us on how to get started, created standards and helped us understand its potential. While the rest of us were doing “fat-pen” site plans, with well . . . actual fat pens, Tammy did our very first CAD concept site plan, which one resident sage admired, then predicted “would never work”. Her spirit of innovation directly influenced our work. We asked her to lead Woodlane Plaza, a 100,000 SF, three-story, mixed-use project, with underground parking which was an early milestone for the firm and her pioneering continued – this time by using 3-story tilt-wall on an office building, something unheard in the mid-80s. She shaped the firm in ways that are still evident today. As any “Meet the Founders” alum knows, two of GFF’s seminal events of the late 80s were Camp John Marc, (our intro to board-driven non-profits, our first nationally published project and a multiple design award winner) and our first involvement with a Corporate Building Program – both of which Tammy helped lead. During the early 90s her Corporate Building Program work had grown to the point that she was managing multiple projects with a team of 8-10 under her direction. After seeing how well this worked, we ultimately reorganized the entire firm into studios using her team as the model.
Over the years she’s been involved in many important projects and relationships, most recently designing lifestyle retail around the country for the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) and a developing a national data center practice. Tammy became a Principal in 2007, was named to GFF’s inaugural Management Committee in 2008 – all the while continuing to serve as Studio Director. That “new CAD thing” has evolved into to a sophisticated IT system where she continues to provide guidance and leadership, now as Co-Chair of GFF’s IT Committee. On the project side, she has recently begun updating our Project Management Manual and regularly provides all with “Tips of the Month”. In addition to her many architectural achievements, she is a sought-after jewelry artist, a really competitive skier (just ask her about that “Ski Like a Girl” bumper sticker) – and did I mention she welds? Tammy is both a pioneer and renaissance woman and it was a lucky, lucky day for GFF when she walked in our front door 30 years ago.