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Thursday, June 29, 2006
Anything but a typical life
Hawaii Tribune Herald

Scott Fleming always wanted to be an architect -- thanks to Star Wars
Editor's note: Scott Fleming was one of two Big Islanders named in the June 23 Pacific Business News as one of their "Forty Under 40" for 2006, celebrating Hawaii's best and brightest young businesspeople under age 40.

Ask any typical child what he or she wants to be and the answers are typical: cowboy, firefighter, police officer, movie star or perhaps an American Idol. But Scott Fleming is hardly typical. The 36-year-old principal of Durrant Media Five's Hilo branch has known since age 7 that he wanted to be an architect. And he has filmmaker George Lucas to thank.

"After I saw the movie 'Star Wars,' my friends and I would hang out together and draw up floor plans for the Death Star, all day long," he said. "I always knew I wanted to be an architect. It was really strange. From the time I was 7 or 8, I just put myself on that path and did what I needed to do, took the high school drafting classes, went to college, did the internship. I was always focused on being an architect."

An Arizona native, Fleming has been in Hawaii for two years, helping to transition the former McCarty/Oda Architects in Hilo into Durrant, a national architecture firm headquartered in Dubuque, Iowa. Contrary to what was written in Pacific Business News, the two founders of the firm, S. Russell Oda and Harrell McCarty, remain active at Durrant. Fleming has been involved in some exciting projects since moving here from the San Francisco Bay Area, including the Arc of Hilo facility, which is currently being designed, the Hilo Judiciary Complex and the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center.

“He’s been passionate both about completing the work here at ‘Imiloa and about making it first-rate,” said Peter B. Giles, executive director of ‘Imiloa. “As with most projects of this scope, there are just a lot of loose ends to be taken care of and Scott is very attentive about that.

“He’s also been a personal supporter of the center. He and his wife and family are members, and we are gratified that someone who was so closely involved in the design of the center would become a member, as well.”

Fleming and his wife, Heather, have four daughters: Hannah, 13; Anastasia, 11; Lillian, 2; and Katherine, 3 months.

“We go to see the planetarium show and attend some special events,” Fleming said. “Frankly, it’s one of the few places we can go in Hilo and all of us can find something to do. It’s an excellent facility and I can’t wait to see more visitors turn out to see it. The ‘Imiloa Center, aside from being the premier scientific educational resource in Hawaii, is a fantastic building with very compelling architecture that tells a story all on its own.”

Fleming was nominated for PBN’s “Forty Under 40” by Mel Choy, architect in charge of Durrant’s Honolulu office.

“Frankly, I was very, very surprised,” Fleming said. “More so considering the fact that I have only been in Hawaii for less than two years and I’m a relative newcomer from the mainland. Frankly, when I found out about the nomination, I didn’t think there was much of a possibility of being chosen, because Hilo and the Big Island are very localized communities and it generally takes a long time to become established here.”

Fleming says that he would like to get more involved in the Hilo community. He is a former Peace Corps volunteer and has worked with his mother, a nurse, with Doctors and Nurses Without Borders. He has also been involved in Habitat for Humanity and says he would like to work again with the group, which helps economically disadvantaged people build and move into their own homes.

“You can’t find the words for something like that,” he said. “I understand the feeling, though, because my wife and I have just found our home. It’s an 80-year-old plantation home. For the past six to nine months, we’ve spent every day renovating it. Now it’s comfortable, safe and clean and what not, so I can really understand the effort it takes to get something built, for other people and for myself, too.”

Fleming, who before Durrant was a partner in a two-person firm he helped found in the Bay Area, said that coming to Hilo was both an easy decision and the right move to make.

“We lived in the same place for five years and never knew our neighbors on either side of us,” he said. “We come here to Hilo, and literally, in the first day, complete strangers are helping us in every way possible. It’s just been a common theme of the time we’ve lived in Hilo.

“My wife and I sensed that when we came here on vacation many years ago. We thought, ‘Boy, it would be great to live here.’ And it’s proven to be true.”


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