Emory Report

February 23, 1998

 Volume 50, No. 22


Fabrick takes over as director
of Campus Planning

"Did you know giraffes sleep standing up?" This is Jennifer Fabrick, Emory's new director of Campus Planning. "They do, resting their head on one hind leg and making an arch with their neck."

Fabrick knows this because after she came to Atlanta in 1979, one of her first projects as an architect was to construct the giraffe barn at Zoo Atlanta, for which she had to learn about what's it like to have a long neck and sleep standing up. "It's fun doing different kinds of projects like that," she said.

Now working on buildings for two-legged creatures, Fabrick joined Emory in January after spending more than eight years at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As assistant director for design and construction, Fabrick worked on projects at every CDC facility in the country. Though her new position is limited to a smaller geographical area, the task is no less daunting as Fabrick appears in the middle of Emory's ambitious campus master planning process and expansion. (see related story on new FMD directors, p. 1)

In fact, her brief tenure at the University has been so busy that she hasn't even had time to clear her office of moving boxes six weeks after starting. It's only fitting that Campus Planning is located in a house behind Uppergate designed by Emory's original architect, Henry Hornbostel; Fabrick's corner office overlooks the front entrance, and stacks of documents and other materials adorn her desk.

"Meetings," Fabrick sighed, citing her main activity of 1998. "Meetings and more meetings. We have eight projects we're trying to get going, either selecting the architects and starting design or just getting going.

"I knew I was jumping into a major challenge, and that's what I was ready for," she continued. "I needed a challenge-it's exciting. It's a lot of work, a lot of juggling, a lot of people to meet.

A challenge, definitely, but one for which Fabrick has prepared for many years. And even beyond having worked for several years literally just down the road, she already has experience building buildings at Emory; before moving to the CDC, Fabrick spent 10 years at Rosser Fabrap, during which time she helped design the pedestrian bridge on campus, along with being project manager for the design of the Rollins Research Center. She spent four years of her life on the latter, but the former had the more lasting impact, since she met her husband while working on the bridge.

"He was an architect at Fabrap," Fabrick said. "We worked on the project together, trying to figure out all the mathematics of the slope angle, the handrail patterning, the dimensions and specifications. It was a real complex little project."

The Fabricks have a complex little project of their own now-her name is Robin and she's 5 years old. Asked what she does when she's not working, Fabrick laughed. "Before my daughter or after my daughter? There's life before and life after. Seriously, my husband and I have been building a cabin up in North Georgia for the past five years, next to the Rich Mountain wilderness area. It's built to the point where we have plumbing, hot water, shower, stove, refrigerator, all the necessities. We heat it by wood stove only. That's been a major project."

Fabrick likes the outdoors, and that's one factor that drew her to the University. One of the principles behind Emory's master plan is to create more green spaces, to become a walking campus, to incorporate environmental aesthetics into state-of-the-art facilities. It actually gives Fabrick a chance to integrate concepts that have sometimes clashed in her life.

When she began college at the University of Colorado in Boulder in the early '70s, the '60s had not yet loosed their grip on campus sensibilities. Architecture in its classic sense was considered "establishment," and the faculty in Boulder very much supported the anti-establishment sentiment of the time. As a result, Fabrick's early studies centered on ecological concepts and paid little attention to the practical aspects of architecture.

"It was a fine beginning, but it wasn't a means to an end," Fabrick said. "My first classes were in ecology, communal aspects of design, geodesic domes, things like that. But learning how to build buildings in the normal shape and form? That wasn't discussed. So I went to [Louisiana State University] and studied architectural design with a heavy emphasis on engineering aspects."

Now her work at Emory gives Fabrick a chance to blend both sensibilities into a natural, sustainable form. "One of the real enticements for me to come here was the forward-seeking nature of President Chace's vision of ecological principles and the importance of how people are treated in their environments," she said. "It's a very 'people' job, and I have great interest in working with people."

Chace is indeed one of the people with whom Fabrick will be working, and soon. Conversion of Asbury Circle into a pedestrian thoroughfare, á la North Kilgo, is at the top of Chace's priority list, and Fabrick said preliminary work on the project could begin as early as this summer. Other priority projects include the Performing Arts Center, phase one of the Physical Sciences Complex, the new nursing school, a new research building for Health Sciences, a comprehensive cancer center and new parking decks.

Quite an agenda, but for Jennifer Fabrick it's the reason she's here, in more ways than one.

-Michael Terrazas

Return to February 23, 1998 Contents Page