From an early age, it was evident that Ryan Birkey was going to be an architect. Growing up, his family always had a summer construction project happening at their house. He developed a strong interest in hands-on activities and building. His parents designed and built their home with no formal training, and the love for creating from scratch was instilled in Ryan. In middle school, he excelled at math and in art class, and continued to advance his love for design and construction. He continued to create things; seeing tangible things he’d built was a very rewarding feeling.
Now a father of three boys, he’s working to instill his love of designing and creating in them. His sons – Branson, Carson, and Dawson – helped him create a feature wall made from walnut slats. It’s now in their living room. Along with the occasional larger projects, they’re always building with Legos.
Ryan started his career with Design Collaborative in 2005. When he was in college, he looked into pursuing a career in sports architecture, but ultimately decided he wanted to design a wide variety of projects. As a member of our Higher Education studio, he’s contributed to the design of a variety of project types, including commercial, corporate, religious, multi-family, wellness, corporate and higher education academic, classroom, and housing.
While there are a number of projects he considers to be favorites, a few stick out more than others. The Indiana Wesleyan University Chapel-Auditorium was a complex design pre-dating the Revit process we now use for design and construction documents. He enjoyed working on the custom pieces of the project, like the glass sculpture in the lobby. This large project required a lot of exploration and discovery for the structural design.
The children’s wing of The Chapel is another project that is special to Ryan—one that blends his professional and personal lives. His family are members of The Chapel’s congregation, and every Sunday, Ryan’s children get to use the space he helped design.
Outside of his passion for design and architecture, Ryan is very active. His father-in-law owns a bicycle shop in Marion, and Ryan and his family can often be found riding northeast Indiana’s extensive trail system. Even his youngest son who’s 5 has finished several 20-mile rides with everyone. The Birkey family loves the outdoors and staying active, whether that’s hiking, running, or biking. Speaking of running, Ryan has completed one full marathon, and four half marathons. His oldest son shares his loves of running, and finished in second place in his age group at this year’s Fort4Fitness 4-mile race!
While he’s proud of the work he’s accomplished as an architect, Ryan’s proudest accomplishment is his family. He and his wife Candace have been married for 13 years. They’re active in their church and their children’s school. They enjoy volunteering for projects at church as a family, like packaging clothing for those in need or helping a church member with household projects.
Ryan is very intentional about the time his family spends together. He hopes he’s creating a lasting legacy in his children by instilling values in them he hopes they’ll keep forever.