Get to Know: Rick Friel

February 21, 2019

Rick Friel, AIA, joined JAI in 1999 and is a partner in the firm.

Rick Friel
Johnson Architecture


What is your role at JAI?

Partner and, somehow, I have been labeled the code and ADA guru.


What three words best describe you?

Kind, patient, caring.


What is your favorite aspect of being on the JAI team?

I feel like the three words I used to describe myself also carry through in the firm’s outlook when dealing with clients and the community. Our mantra of “Listen, then draw” exemplifies what a service-based company should strive for.


What words best describe the culture at JAI?

Family-oriented, respectful.


What has been your proudest moment to date working at JAI?

The proudest moment(s) would be that moment when your client expresses true gratitude for an implemented design when it exceeds their expectations for their own project. The most memorable moment to date working at JAI would be the day I came home from Vanderbilt Medical Center in remission from leukemia to find nearly everyone from Johnson Architecture at the time standing in my driveway to welcome me home.


How has working at JAI enhanced your professional development?

Being at a company that you can fully back and know that everyone there has your back is empowering. It allows you to strive to reach your highest potential.


What or who is your go-to source for work inspiration?

It depends on the topic. We have numerous talents within the office. If it is for a unique design situation, then it would definitely be Daryl Johnson.


If you could switch places for a day with any JAI team member, which one would you choose?

I don’t think I would switch with anyone. Each person holds their own unique position in the firm, best suited for their skills and talents. We have a good thing going with our current staff.


Before joining JAI, what was the most unusual/enjoyable/challenging job you held?

I painted with my father over the summers while I was home from school. When you are painting a sheep barn with oil-based paint in 95-degree heat, climbing up a 30-foot ladder to paint open-ended rafters, you end up with sheep manure and oil-based paint all over you to the point that you can’t let go of the paintbrush at the end of the day. It makes you eager to get back to your studies so that you can start the career of your choice.


What do you look most forward to at the end of a workday?

A relaxing evening at home with the family – if there are no extracurricular activities.


If you were stranded alone on an island, what three material possessions would you hope to have with you?

Sunscreen, sunglasses and a margarita. May as well make the best of it.


What is your secret talent?

I can snap my fingers and make it sound like it’s raining. It’s a great way to entertain a 3-year-old. At least it worked on my kids at that age.


What is your favorite place in the world?



What are you currently watching or reading?

Waiting for the next season of “Stranger Things” on Netflix.