After spending his entire 40-year career at Ballinger helping to grow the firm into a national architecture/engineering presence, Jeff French begins his retirement today. Jeff served as a Senior Principal since 1990, and Ballinger benefited tremendously from his professional expertise and leadership, strength of character, and collegial manner.
When asked the secret to his successful career at Ballinger, Jeff responded – “Collaboration. I was afforded continuous opportunity, and I sincerely tried to exceed expectations with each. But I also found teammates who understood that together, rather than alone, we could make something better.”
Jeff joined Ballinger soon after graduating with his Master of Architecture degree from the University of Virginia in 1978. He was Class of 1976 at Princeton where he majored in architecture and played varsity baseball.
Early in his career, Jeff gained experience on a wide variety of project types including, most notably, research facilities. Upon completing the first phase of SmithKline’s (later Glaxo) million square foot R&D consolidation in Upper Merion, PA, he was asked in 1985 to be the full-time on-site project manager for the construction phase of the next 800,000 sf. This 15-month assignment ignited a career-long interest in scientific facilities.
Following completion of the SmithKline project, Jeff began what would be a 30-year relationship with Johnson & Johnson, creating an extensive portfolio of projects across many of their affiliate companies. This experience led to work with many other significant pharmaceutical companies, positioning Jeff as a highly regarded science and research facility expert.
After attending the International Conference of the Society for College and University Planning in the mid-1980’s, Jeff became interested in leveraging his corporate research expertise, leading him to become one of the pre-eminent national academic science and research facility experts.
Jeff’s practice leadership resulted in his being named a Principal in 1990, launching the firm’s trajectory towards becoming the nationally-recognized practice for academic science teaching and research facilities that it is today. He developed an extensive portfolio of significant projects across the country, with notable clients such as Princeton, Brown, Cornell, Johns Hopkins, Wisconsin, Pittsburgh, VCU, Berea, Swarthmore College, the Institute for Food, Nutrition and Health at Rutgers, and the Wistar Institute amongst many, many others.
As a noted national science and research facility expert, Jeff was frequently requested by the National Institutes for Health, the National Science Foundation, and other federal agencies to be a research grant application reviewer. This led to him co-authoring the National Science Foundation’s highly-regarded publication entitled “Planning Academic Research Facilities: A Guidebook.” He chaired workshops for the New York Academy of Sciences, published in an edition of their annals, was an invited contributor for the Higher Education Colloquium on Science Facilities, and lectured at many conferences and symposiums for more than 30 years.
His national contribution to architecture for science was recognized in 1999 by his elevation to Fellowship in the American Institute of Architects, making him one of the youngest ever at that time to receive the AIA’s highest individual honor.
Looking beyond Ballinger, Jeff’s next chapter includes finding volunteer roles and contributing significantly to his community. His immediate goal is to spend more time with his family – Anne, his wife of 36 years, their three children and spouses, and two grandchildren.