By Myriam Weaver
On August 31, FS Staff came together to celebrate the many contributions of the University of Chicago’s Facilities Services longest serving staff member, Jim Garcia. Garcia started in Facilities Services, then called building and grounds, as a draftsman 56 years ago. He was quickly promoted to lead draftsmen where he was responsible for supervising the other draftsmen. The building and grounds department merged with the planning department, and Garcia was promoted to construction coordinator where some of his first projects included Bartlett squash courts (remodeling what is now Crown Field House). At that time, Garcia drafted by hand with pen and straight edge.
Construction and architecture began to work together as design/build teams that managed general contractors for primarily renovation work. Garcia was selected to manage the renovation department. He recalls drawing the glass block design at Bartlett and the panel design at Crown Field House. The most challenging project that Garcia led was the three-month I-house dorm renovation. The project team delivered the dorm in time for the fall move-in despite the time constraint and complex scope which included HVAC and sprinkler installation, ADA ramp construction, matching specialized finishes, and the courtyard renovation.
Garcia could be nicknamed the “fireman” – he led the Math/Stat, Stein, and Stewart Hall fire reconstruction projects. Garcia is also accustomed to working with the highest level of leadership at the university; he led the first renovation effort of Levi Hall for President Zimmer’s arrival. When asked which project he is proudest of, Garcia replies that all projects are important. Each project requires his best effort. After working for the university for 56 years, Garcia quickly credits project diversity and client satisfaction as his personal motivators for service delivery.