Designing the future of Durham Tech

Kevin G. Montgomery (left) and Carmen Williams (right)

Kevin G. Montgomery peered down at a miniature model of the Durham Tech main campus and pointed to a number of places where future buildings and a plaza are slated to go.

Montgomery, the President and Chief Operating Officer at O’Brien Atkins Associates, has been involved in nearly 30 years of renovation and reinvigoration projects for Durham Tech. His architecture firm has redesigned several buildings on the main campus off Lawson Street and in recent years has taken on the master strategic plans for future capital growth on all three Durham Tech campuses.

Following a 2016 voter-approved county bond, O’Brien Atkins was awarded a bid for the renovation of the George W. Newton Industrial & Engineering Technologies Center and the creation of a new Applied Heath Technologies building between Cooper and Lawson streets.

The long-term vision and layout for projected growth are part of Durham Tech President Bill Ingram’s dream for the future of the College. The expansions are geared toward high-demand industries and essential programs for coming years.

That’s a key difference for the future, Montgomery said.

“We’re looking to create a campus,” he said, “not just an individual collection of buildings. We’re also looking to build with purpose, specifically for the needs, instead of adapting existing buildings to fit programs. That’s a different attitude.”

Along with more space, President Ingram is looking to outfit buildings with more collaborative working environments and cutting edge technology to make sure Durham Tech students are industry ready.

“Durham and Orange counties are growing and we’re positioning Durham Tech to be not just a part of that growth – but a leader in it,” Ingram said. “Our students and graduates are the foundation of our communities and by forging great futures for them, we’re only bettering the future for ourselves.”

Montgomery, who first stepped on the Lawson Street campus for an evening computer class in the early 1990s, said the College has changed significantly over the years.

In addition to providing continuing education courses and personal interest classes, Durham Tech offers a host of opportunities for students looking for university transfer opportunities, health care careers, or industrial trade jobs.

Inside an O’Brien Atkins boardroom on a July Monday, Montgomery invites in one of his new employees, Durham Tech Architectural Technology graduate Carmen Williams.

“If all graduates are like Carmen, then employers in the area can expected talented, dedicated Durham Tech students who want to learn and grow,” he said.

The long relationship with Durham Tech has become personal over his three decades in Durham.

As a former student, a former Durham Tech Foundation board member, and a long-time advocate of Durham, he pays special attention to the impact O’Brien Atkins has on future growth at Durham Tech.

“The faculty and staff at Durham Tech care for the students. They’re committed to education. They are people I see every day,” Montgomery said. “I believe in this community. I believe in Durham Tech.”