Growing up in a small town in Iowa, ISG Architect Nathan Compton admired structures of all sizes. After high school, Nathan attended Des Moines Area Community college and began working in the architecture and engineering industry. A few years later, at the encouragement of his wife, Nathan went back to school at Iowa State University to pursue his dream in architecture. Remaining in Ames after graduation, Nathan made an instant splash within the community. He was named to the Chamber of Commerce’s “Leadership Ames Class of 25.” Following this, Nathan was approached with the opportunity to lead the establishment of ISG’s newest location. Nathan relocated to Waterloo with his wife and two kids to bring ISG Waterloo to life. Now, when Nathan is outside of ISG Waterloo office, he enjoys all of the Iowa seasons, running half-marathons, or cheering on Cyclone sports.

When did you know you wanted to study to become an architect?

The architect cliché rings true with me as with others; when I was a kid, I was drawn to the design of structures. Whether it was buildings or bridges, I was always fascinated by these amazing objects that came out of people’s minds, as well as how some of these spaces make you feel. I remember going to Chicago for the first time when I was about 10—I loved how small I was while standing in the shadows of the buildings. My head was on a constant swivel, trying to take in all of the surrounding architecture.

What was it about ISG that made you pack up shop and relocate with your family?

The ability to move in the direction that you are most passionate about is very empowering to me. I really appreciate the vast amount of knowledge that comes with so many services and markets; there are some really talented people at ISG and I can pick my phone up and ask any one of them a question any time I want—when I need help on a task, there is always someone out there willing to step up.  This is evidence of the positivity and collective buy-in that I haven’t experienced at other firms, which proves I made a good choice. Looking back to the growth that has occurred in ISG’s history, I am just excited to see where it will go from here, especially with all of the talent and the empowerment of ESOP.

What do you like about living in Iowa? What would you recommend to someone visiting?

Iowa is what you make of it; there are trails to ride, there are cities with great life, great college sports, and a beautiful countryside to enjoy. It is also a great place to raise our kids with excellent schools and safe neighborhoods. Growing up we didn’t appreciate any of this but now we understand it.

Any stereotypes about Iowa you’d like to debunk?

Well, the idea that people who grow up in small towns in the Midwest don’t see diversity is false. I grew up in the small town of Perry, Iowa, and was the youngest of five. Perry is known for its pork packing plant which draws in people from both South America and Africa; this meant that my exposure to a diverse array of cultures increased as I grew. I played soccer in high school, and our team was made up of this diverse array of individuals, and I was among the minority on the team. I think that this exposure diversity was definitely a strength.

You’ve given a few public talks on the Tiny Homes Movement—but aren’t architects supposed to be big-thinkers?

I don’t personally live in a tiny house, but I have been fascinated with the movement from both a design challenge stand point and a philosophical beliefs stand point. In some respect they run hand in hand for me because they are both about getting down to the bare essentials. Belief-wise: it’s keeping only what is truly important while stripping away unnecessary clutter, which causes you to be introspective and think about stuff and what is really important to you. As an architect there may not be a lot of space to design, but the challenge of stripping a home down to prioritize and make spaces multi-functional requires a different kind of big-thinking. Design restrictions such as this influence my larger projects, as they make me a better architect by causing me to think about things from a different angle.

Big thinking doesn’t have to be about the size of the project, it is about how you approach it; every project has an opportunity for design and creative thinking.

How do you spend your free time?

I have been married for 14 years and have two children, a five-year-old boy and three-year-old-girl, who I enjoy spending the majority of my free time with. I also enjoy running and have run a couple half marathons. I usually run in the morning before work, and I have found it is a great way for me to start my day. I also enjoy reading when I get time, and watching ISU football and basketball. As a family, we love to travel and see new places and try new foods; we are particularly fond of trying new pizza and donut shops.

Nathan also volunteers for an organization called Global Fingerprints. It is a child sponsorship program that connects orphans in developing nations such as the Democratic Republic of Congo to individuals in the US who are willing to support them financially so that they can have food, go to school, and get medical help. I was even able to spend a few weeks in Congo back in 2015 seeing the organization in action and meeting some of the children that are helped.

What’s something that your coworkers might not know about you?

My wife and I have the goal of hiking to the base camp of Everest once our children are grown up and out of the home; however, we don’t have any intentions of climbing up Everest as we prefer to keep our toes.

Join the conversation #ISGWaterloo #Architect #EmployeeOwned #ControlYourDestiny

Meet Sam Boeck

Sam leads talent engagement at ISG, focusing on providing innovative and strategic direction for talent engagement initiatives, including professional development, culture, and recruitment. Frankly put, Sam embodies ISG’s culture and...