As we continue our series featuring the “Minds Behind our Designs”, we are excited to share a team member whose invaluable skill set allows him to touch almost every project. James Halstead has served as our Structural Design Director since 2013 and brings a depth and understanding of fundamental structural solutions and technologies. It’s common to overhear our team members collaborating on an idea and inevitably ask, “James, can we do this?” As often as it is said, James plays a critical role in ensuring the integrity of our work and making our ideas fit structurally into the overall design.
James is a native of Albemarle County and enjoys living and working in the community he was raised in. From a young age, he recalls his close relationship with his grandfather as a source of inspiration that guided his future. As a carpenter, his grandfather could construct almost anything, and James remembers learning as much as he could from him. These early years of learning how things were built led James to study at Piedmont College and eventually begin a career in structural design. He developed much of his skill set while working at a local engineering firm that partnered with the Gaines Group on numerous projects. Their partnership led to a strong relationship over the years, and it was a natural fit for James to join the team at the Gaines Group once his employer retired.
Since joining the firm, James has elevated our team’s ability to support all phases of the design process. His skill set allows our team to find solutions that meet overall design goals. In his words, “Charles and I make a good team. He creates the big picture and I help make it come together with all of the details.” He loves the wide range and diversity of projects but specifically enjoys working on custom residential designs. To date, his most memorable project was the Penn Laird custom home in which the design was centered around a full-size, half-court basketball court in the basement.
Outside of work, James devotes much of his time to his family and community. He prioritizes spending time with his wife of 23 years and daughter who is currently a junior at Longwood university. He also serves as the Captain of the Reserve program at the Albemarle Sheriff’s Office and has been an active board member on the Fluvanna County Board of Building Code and Fluvanna County Planning Commission. When he has a free moment, you can also find James unwinding on the golf course.