Many students get jobs to make some extra dough in college, but Josh Muckenhirn literally made dough… and baked bread to sell to his fellow architecture students at North Dakota State University, Fargo, when late-night hunger pangs struck in the studio. Now, the baker and ISG Architect resides in Sioux Falls. He has wasted no time engraining himself in the community (pun very much intended).
How’d you get started baking bread?
Cooking has always been a part of my family, but what really started the fire was when I traveled to Europe for the first time during my junior year of college. I was amazed at how many fresh bakeries were over there, and the quality of bread available. When I returned stateside with a refined palate for baked goods, I just couldn’t do “Wonder bread” anymore. It didn’t take long for me to discover that there weren’t many fresh quality bakeries around, so I taught myself! Over the years, bread baking for me has become more than simply creating something to eat—it’s almost therapeutic or meditative.
What inspired you to enter architecture?
I am absolutely thrilled that I have the opportunity to help shape the built environment as it has been a lifelong fascination of mine. We spend our entire lives surrounded by exterior and interior built structures, and they inevitably shape the way we go about our daily lives. Buildings have a profound effect on how we as a society communicate, interact, and work with one another. By understanding and appreciating the impact that a design has on people, we can have a direct impact on, and help mold, the future.
Have you noticed parallels between bread baking and architecture?
To me, both bread baking and architecture are a blend of art and science. When you really invest in bread baking, you learn how profound an effect the ingredients and the ratio of those ingredients has on the final outcome—the science. Once you have mastered that, you need to be able to “feel” the dough in order to understand when it has the correct hydration and when it has been kneaded enough—the art. In many ways, bread baking, like architecture, is problem solving through trial and error. Furthermore, making good bread and designing a facility that a client is happy with are both exceptionally rewarding feelings.
What’s the nature of your community involvement in Sioux Falls?
After I moved here in August of 2016, I fell in love with the city and the community. The longer I’m here the more involved I become, and the more I enjoy it! Currently, I’m a member of the Sioux Falls Young Professionals Network (YPN) as well as serve as co-chair of the YPN Civic Engagement Team. I also serve on the Chamber of Commerce Issues Management Council (IMC), am part of the AIA South Dakota Communications/Outreach Committee, and AIA South Dakota Emerging Professionals.
Why do you pursue involvement in the community and industry?
Ever since I left home for college, I have been living in new cities where I don’t have any prior connections or know anybody. I guess you could say my community involvement began as a “survival instinct” of sorts in order to meet local people and form relationships. However, over time, it grew into much more than that—I thoroughly enjoy meeting as many people as possible and listening to everyone’s unique story. Getting involved in the community and industry is a great way to give back!
How does your community and industry involvement enhance the services ISG offers our clients and partners?
By getting involved with both the community and the industry, I am able to stay on top of the pulse of the latest technologies and projects in Sioux Falls and beyond. This leads me to constant personal and professional growth. This ensures I can offer the latest insights to ISG’s partners and clients!
Looking towards the future, how do you see the role of architecture changing?
As our population continues to grow, we are going to need additional facilities to allow us to live, work, and play for years to come. We have a responsibility to design the environment not only for today, but to ensure we can handle and adapt to the unforeseen needs of the future.
Who inspires you? Why?
My Grandfather. He has always enjoyed giving back by volunteering his time, talents, and finances, all while owning a restaurant and helping to raise four boys. Even coming up on 85 years old, he still delivers meals for Meals-On-Wheels. He and my grandmother bake a TON of lefse and poppy seed kuchen for friends and family each holiday season.
What else do you like to do in your free time?
I absolutely love to travel, because of the way traveling to different countries opens up your mind to various cultures. In the end, I have learned how alike we all are. Also, I like trying new foods, because I like food. I have also ran six Tough Mudders thus far and plan to continue until I reach 10!