Under the Hard Hat with Derek Gilley

May 5, 2022

Derek Gilley

At Clark, we are proud to be made up of individuals from a variety of backgrounds and talents who thrive and succeed together. Our "Under the Hard Hat" series is designed to showcase the diverse people who make up the Clark team.

We recently sat down with Derek Gilley, a design manager in the Mid-Atlantic region, to learn about his background, and what he enjoys most about working in the construction industry.

Describe your background. Where did you grow up?

I had a “country-style” upbringing. My family lived in a log home on a large, wooded lot outside of Bellefontaine, Ohio. For a small rural town, it does have one historic building industry fun fact: the town is home to the first paved concrete road in the United States. I’ve lived and worked in Ohio my entire life before moving to Washington, DC 10 years ago.

What brought you to Clark?

Problem-solving and the ability to create a tangible product that shapes our surroundings and experiences brought me to the industry. After working on the design side for the past decade, moving into design management was a natural career progression as my interests shifted beyond design and more towards whole project success.

Clark's Design Management Program offered me the opportunity to utilize my experience as an architect to bridge the gap between designer and builder.

What job are you currently working in? What are your responsibilities?

I am the Design Manager for the PenPlace Helix + Meeting Center (HMC). The Helix is the spiral-formed amenity tower for Amazon HQ2 in Arlington. As a design manager, my responsibilities include general design phase coordination, project stakeholder alignment, management of design-assist, and design/constructability reviews with the ultimate goal to enhance documentation to best align budget, schedule, design, and construction. 

What do you like most about working in the construction industry?

At the beginning of the pandemic in April 2020, I provided design management support for the rapid conversion of a correctional building in Maryland to an alternate care facility. I was only involved in the project for the first few weeks during the site assessment and design planning phase, but it was an extremely impactful experience. I was in complete awe of the purpose-filled mission behind the project and the rapid response capabilities of the Clark team.

Who have been your strongest influences in life?

Austin E Knowlton, who grew up in my hometown in the late 1920s, had a significant influence on my early education and career goals.  He was a trained architect and owner of a successful construction company, who went on to be a founding partner of the Cincinnati Bengals and primary donor of the Knowlton School of Architecture at The Ohio State University, where I went to undergrad.

What does "Thrive as You, Succeed Together” mean to you?

Each team member has a unique skillset and experience to apply to every challenge - only the team has the ability to synthesize individual expertise to accelerate growth and elevate the level of success through improved work quality.