High Designs

This architect's career is taking flight

As a child Chauncey Tucker liked to draw. But as he matured, he had no indication that his hobby, combined with his developing interest in math and physics, would present him with an exciting career opportunity. Tucker is the architectural aviation planner for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

“My primary responsibilities include, but are not limited to, the design, development, and maintenance of new and existing plans for LaGuardia, Newark, and Teterboro airports,” he says. During a typical day, Tucker might construct blueprints for a new airplane hanger, a United Airlines terminal, or even the president’s own special runway when he visits the New York area.

Graduating from Western Michigan University in 1987 with a degree in architecture, Tucker worked as a draftsman for architectural firms in his native Chicago, designing wire proofing, pools, and roof details.

Tucker launched his career as an architectural consultant by starting his own company, Design Infinity, in 1987. Working as a consultant has offered Tucker more freedom in accessing jobs and setting his own rates.

Flexibility is key to maintaining a successful career in architectural consulting. Since moving to New York City in 1992, Tucker has designed everything from office layouts for Morgan Stanley Dean Witter to homes for Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise. Working on a variety of projects helped him land his position with the Port Authority nearly two years ago–a permanent gig. Tucker, however, continues to work on outside projects.
Tucker advises aspiring architects to keep pace with the new technology in architectural design, specifically the computer software programs AutoCAD and MicroStation. “If you know those two programs you’ll stay pretty busy,” he says.

New Challenges: Since Sept. 11 he has been involved in a number of projects to help the Port Authority–which owned the World Trade Center–get back on its feet. He has reproduced lost documentation of prior Port Authority facilities and converted empty airplane hangers into office space for 2,000 of the more than 10,000 displaced Port Authority employees. Tucker’s own office was located in the second tower.

“As a whole, my job entails the studying and providing of traffic patterns for both aircraft and pedestrian highways, which will provide safer ways for traffic flows when arriving or departing from the airports,” he says.

A Rewarding Career: Tucker considers each project a great accomplishment. “An idea that was once in your head, merely an idea or a vision, is now being used by the world–whether it’s a house, office building, or restaurant,” says Tucker. “It’s a great feeling!”

Chauncey Tucker
AGE: 38
OCCUPATION: Architectural Aviation Planner
LOCATION: New York City
DUTIES: Designs airports, runways, and terminals for New York area airports
SALARY RANGE: $60,000 to $70,000

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