Partner Profile - Jim Cary of Cardinal Architecture

  • Chelsea Inglis
  • SPG Project Manager
  • Rafn Company

I have had the pleasure of working with Jim Cary, Principal at Cardinal Architecture, for the last 8 years while here at Rafn Company. In that amount of time, I can tell you that the skillset is wide, and the knowledge is vast at Cardinal Architecture. In addition to sharing more about his architectural history and experience, I'd also like to introduce you to Jim, the person behind the practice.

Jim Cary

Born and raised in Hannibal, Missouri, to an attorney dad and a hospital management mom, Jim then earned a Bachelor of Arts in History from Yale University and a Master of Architecture from the University of Oregon. Jim gained his architectural experience in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Illinois, Florida, New Zealand, Oregon, Missouri, Montana and Washington State and is licensed in 5 states. While attending the University of Oregon (after returning from studying abroad for a few years) he met his wife who is a writer. She then attended the University of Montana while Jim worked in Missoula for a local architecture firm. Jim and his family love Montana and enjoy spending time in the state. He is currently working on several project there including the North Lake County Public Library in Polson.

Cardinal Architecture

Jim worked out of his basement before opening his doors downtown as Cardinal Architecture. One of Cardinal's long-time clients is Seattle University. Jim got his first gig with SU because he bought a house near their Facilities Building and met the SU Facilities team in 2004. He says he doesn't have a favorite project at SU, but the one that is most meaningful is the Seattle University Admissions and Alumni Building because people have been truly touched by the sense of community and welcoming the building provides. As far as other current work, Jim is really pumped about his role in Tumwater at the historic Olympia Brewery Tower and the Craft District. Cardinal did the Craft District master plan and is the architect for the Market Building.

Responding to Covid

The Covid-19 pandemic has slowed some of Cardinal's work and as a 3-man firm they are staying connected to each other with Jesse working from home while Trey and Jim are manning the office downtown. Working from the office is still easier for some folks. Asked if he had learned any new skills during COVID, Jim talks about a galvanized steel spiral stair kit he installed at his house with the help of a Rafn Superintendent consulting on the concrete scope. But the biggest thing is that he cannot wait to get back to travelling to see his family who are scattered around the country.

Cardinal and Rafn

Jim Cary and Rafn Company over the years have completed 56 projects together. In our shared portfolio, you will find completed projects with Jim and his team that have covered everything from traditional office space, head coaching offices, commercial kitchens, art sculpture installations, and most recently the design of a ceramic kiln studio. We value our partnership with Jim and his staff because of their problem solver attitude. Jim works hard to verify requirements and always brings several solutions to the table. He is a contractor-friendly architect that creates a bridge between owner and contractor in the spirit of collaboration. Shared values allow us to work so well together, and we consistently refer Jim and Cardinal Architecture to our clients. Rafn is grateful to have Cardinal Architecture on our roster and we truly appreciate the value of their people.

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