Speaker Bios

Joe Conover

Joe Conover
Vice President, Clark Construction Group

Joe Conover has more than forty years of experience in facade construction, both as a subcontractor and on the general contracting side. He has participated in the construction of a myriad of different project types, including transportation, health care, sports, museum, education, hospitality, industrial, commercial, and high-rise residential. Joe and his group collaborate with design teams, trade contractors, as well as material and systems manufacturers to ensure that building enclosures are designed and constructed with appropriate materials that meet the specified performance requirements, achieve the desired aesthetic expression, and the interfaces between systems are well detailed and constructible. He has overseen the design and construction of building enclosures for hundreds of projects across the country, including notable architecture such as the 61-story Salesforce Tower in San Francisco, the massive McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago, and the stunning and unique facade of the African American Museum in Washington, DC. Joe has led the Building Envelope Group nationally for Clark Construction Group for more than twenty years.

alex cox

Alex Cox
Marketing Communications Manager, Permasteelisa North America

With a background that combines structural and mechanical engineering, architecture, and construction, Alex Cox has more than twenty years of experience in the design of structures and facades. He holds a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Rochester with a minor in English composition, as well as a master's degree in civil engineering from UC Berkeley. He has worked as a structural engineer and facade consultant in the United States and Southeast Asia, and is currently the Marketing Communications Manager for Permasteelisa North America. Alex is based in San Francisco.

amy hackneyAmy Hackney, P.E., LEED AP
Senior Principal, Simpson Gumpertz & Heger

Amy Hackney is head of SGH’s Building Technology division in Southern California, with extensive building enclosure engineering experience. Her primary emphasis is on new design building enclosure consultation. Her work addresses issues related to the integrity of glazing assemblies, opaque exterior walls, roofs, plaza decks, balconies, and below-grade systems. She has experience working with architects, contractors, and developers on a wide range of structures, including high-rise residential buildings, hotels, health care facilities, museums, stadiums, and commercial and mixed-use projects. Her experience also includes investigating existing building enclosures and waterproofing systems and repair and rehabilitation design of those components. Amy is the President of and on the Board of Governors for the Architectural Engineering Institute of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

mike huhtalaMichael Huhtala, Architect 
Senior Staff Member, Simpson Gumpertz & Heger

Mike Huhtala specializes in building science and building enclosure performance, including evaluating and resolving water infiltration and condensation problems and conducting thermal and hygrothermal analysis. He has a wide range of experience involving building enclosure condition assessment, investigation, repair design, commissioning, conducting design peer reviews, and providing construction administration services for a variety of building types. He has published papers and presented on topics including computer thermal simulations, condensation, fenestration systems, and commissioning.

tammy jowTammy Jow, LEED AP
Principal, AC Martin

A Principal with AC Martin, Tammy Jow has worked on some of the firm’s most significant projects. Her diverse body of work includes the new Madera County Courthouse, the Campus Center at the University of Southern California, the Hollenbeck Replacement Police Station in Boyle Heights, and the Cal/EPA Headquarters in Sacramento. She is experienced in all aspects of design and construction, with a particular skill in using her communication skills coupled with her architectural background to help all stakeholders translate their project goals to the design team and vice versa, explaining the design language in a way that can be easily understood. She was the Senior Designer and Project Director on the Wilshire Grand Redevelopment Project. In this role, she was responsible for coordinating the efforts of the entire design team, including a vast array of consultants, liaising with the client – Korean Airlines – and working closely with Turner Construction. She is currently the Project Director for the State of California’s New Natural Resources Headquarters Building in Sacramento, California. Tammy received her Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Southern California, is a LEED Accredited Professional, and a vital member of AC Martin since 1996.

shruti kasarekarShruti Kasarekar, LEED AP BD+C, ASHRAE BEMP, BEAP
Associate, Atelier Ten 

Shruti Kasarekar is an Associate and a leader of the Environmental Design Practice of Atelier Ten. Her background as an architect and a building science specialist has been fundamental to her approach in problem solving and enabling innovation in the built environment. She combines technical competency and creativity across multiple disciplines – architecture, engineering, and master planning – and has deep expertise in passive systems, daylight, visual comfort and energy optimization, water reuse systems, and carbon management.

jeff larue

Jeff LaRue, AIA 
Principal, HKS

Jeff LaRue serves as director of construction services quality management. He directs HKS’s project delivery methodology, in-house technical education, specification development, and construction detail development analysis. Jeff is responsible for monitoring industry trends relating to new construction products and methods. He has been involved in design, research, code analysis, environmental study, production, and architectural detailing for more than thirty-eight years. This broad range of experience enables him to approach architectural problems of any scale with knowledge of the interaction of all aspects of the profession.

chris nortonChristopher Norton, P.E. 
Senior Project Manager, Simpson Gumpertz & Heger

Chris Norton has a broad range of experience with building enclosure systems, including new design, existing building repairs and retrofits, heritage conservation projects, and daylighting design concepts. He is skilled in evaluating the performance of exterior systems for moisture, air, thermal, and solar issues to provide a holistic understanding of building enclosures and issues that drive performance goals. Diagnosing failures and designing repairs for existing projects has given him the expertise necessary to identify complications during the design process and to provide solutions for complex material, geometric, and aesthetic challenges.

kevin oconnellKevin O'Connell, S.E.
Associate Principal, Simpson Gumpertz & Heger

Kevin O’Connell is the head of SGH’s Structural Engineering division in Southern California. His experience includes new building design; design of modifications to existing buildings, including seismic retrofit and historic preservation; building facade structural design; and investigations of existing building structures. He has worked on a variety of project types, including commercial office buildings, airports, university buildings, entertainment industry-related projects such as new sound stages and post-production buildings, performing arts centers, laboratory buildings, historic structures, large single-family residential estates, and retrofit design of soft-story wood-framed structures and non-ductile concrete buildings. Kevin is a past-president of the Structural Engineers Association of Southern California (SEAOSC), a past treasurer for the Western Chapter of the Association for Preservation Technology (WCAPT), and is currently chairman of the SEAOSC Foundation.

david pakshong

David Pakshong
Civic & Culture Leader, Senior Associate, Gensler

As an architect and team leader, David Pakshong brings a comprehensive skill set of design advocacy, management oversight, and technical expertise to his projects. He has more than twenty-five years of design and delivery experience with world-class cultural facilities and complex building systems, and is committed to working closely with clients to realize their goals. He plays a major role in setting the conceptual and design direction for Gensler’s Civic & Culture practice area, and is currently one of its two leaders. He holds a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Natal and a Master of Architecture from Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc).

james parker

James Parker, S.E. 
Senior Principal, Simpson Gumpertz & Heger

James Parker is head of Structural Engineering and Structural Mechanics at SGH. His work ranges from new structural design to investigation and retrofit of existing buildings and design of high-performance building facade structures. His exposure both to new construction design and to existing building investigation and evaluation enables him to bring creative solutions to the design process that reflect a realistic understanding of the performance of building and enclosure structures. James has worked extensively performing seismic assessments of structures in areas of significant seismic risk worldwide. He has worked to establish programs and priorities for seismic rehabilitation and risk mitigation, including development of building inventory and loss and vulnerability studies. He has inspected facilities, performed seismic analysis, and developed designs of seismic retrofit for existing buildings. He has worked extensively as a voting member of the Seismic Rehabilitation Committee for the American Society of Civil Engineers ASCE 41, which is the state-of-the-art standard for seismic evaluation and rehabilitation. He is currently on the steering committee for the ASCE 41 – 17 Update. In addition, James is the author of the AISC Design Guide 22, Facade Attachments to Steel-Framed Buildings and has presented extensively on the subject.

luke pelton

Luke Pelton 
Project Engineer, DPR Construction

With six years of experience in the construction industry, Luke Pelton brings a unique perspective to project teams with his engineering background. In his current role as Project Engineer at DPR Construction, one of the country’s top technical builders, Luke is responsible for providing project coordination of field office activities, including scheduling, submittals, requests for information, change orders, and project field meetings. He brings in-depth knowledge of civil engineering and engineering physics and diverse experience working with municipalities on lighting, storm water, and drainage issues. Luke graduated with a B.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Southern California and B.S. in Engineering Physics from Biola University.

vince polhemus

Vince Polhemus 
Director of Cost Engineering, Walters & Wolf

Employed by Walters & Wolf Glass since 2004, Vince Polhemus started as a project manager and managed more than $60 million of work. In 2016, Vince was promoted to Director of Cost Engineering. His leadership, communication, planning, and industry knowledge have been critical to the success of the projects in which he has been involved. Vince is a graduate of the University of California, Irvine, holding a B.A. in Economics, and also received an M.B.A. from the University of California, Riverside.

ryan uppRyan Upp, AIA
Senior Project Manager, Simpson Gumpertz & Heger

Ryan Upp is an architect registered by the State of California and a member of SGH’s Building Technology group in Los Angeles. He has experience on a wide range of historic and contemporary structures consulting with architects, contractors, and building developers. His experience involves investigation of existing building enclosures, restoration, and new design encompassing a variety of systems, including below-grade waterproofing, plaza deck waterproofing, exterior wall assemblies, balcony waterproofing, curtain wall and window assemblies, and roofing.

nate wittasekNathan Wittasek, P.E., LEED AP, CASp
Principal, Simpson Gumpertz & Heger

Nate Wittasek has extensive experience working in the fire protection and regulatory arenas. He brings a practical approach to the fire protection engineering field that reflects his diverse training and experiences in academia, codes consulting for both new and existing facilities, performance-based fire protection engineering, sustainable design, and the fire service. His experience includes failure analysis, fire engineering, systems design, and building codes consulting for commercial and infrastructure projects in North America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Nate has specialized in fire life safety systems and approaches that are used in assembly venues, tall buildings, cultural heritage facilities, and historic structures. He is a registered fire protection engineer in California and Nevada. He sits on the Tall Building Fire Safety Network, the fire safety committee for the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, and is a regular instructor for the American Institute of Architects, where he focuses on regulatory issues, building, fire and zoning codes as well as accessibility.