Johanning and Kowal to Lead WBRC Education Studio

Photos of new Ed Studio Directors Kristian Kowal and Michael Johanning

New Education Studio Leaders

Two of WBRC’s Principal Architects, Michael Johanning and Kristian Kowal, have been visible leaders in Maine’s educational design sector for more than a decade. This month, Mike and Kristian will officially take over leadership of WBRC’s Education Studio as its new Directors. They succeed Ray Bolduc, P.E., who will hand over leadership so that he can focus on his role as WBRC’s President & CEO.

“Mike and Kristian are two of the most talented designers and project managers in our company’s history,” Ray Bolduc says. “Each of them has shown leadership in serving Maine school districts, colleges, and universities statewide and have led some of our most celebrated projects. I am excited to hand over WBRC’s Education Studio to them, with full confidence.”

Rob Frank, WBRC’s Board Chair, says: “Kristian Kowal and Mike Johanning are high-performing design professionals and team leaders who have already been leading our education studio team in many ways. This promotion just makes it official.”

“Ray has done a remarkable job leading WBRC’s Education Studio for nearly a decade,” says WBRC CFO/COO Paul Brody. “He has led by example, helped grow our practice, and has overseen many important projects. Thanks to Ray’s leadership, the education studio is in great shape and Mike and Kristian are ready and able to build on his success.”

Michael Johanning, AIA

Photo of Michael Johanning at South Portland Middle School construction site
Project Architect/Project Manager Michael Johanning, AIA at South Portland Middle School construction site.

Michael Johanning earned a B. Arch from University of Detroit Mercy and also studied abroad before joining WBRC in October 2000. Mike quickly showed his ability to think globally and lead teams, while staying aware of the thousands of details behind a successful project. For more than a decade, Mike has focused primarily on educational design at WBRC. His new school projects include Ocean Avenue Elementary School in Portland, Captain Stevens Elementary School in Belfast, and South Portland Middle School, as well as renovation and expansion projects for Belfast Area High School, Oceanside High School, Hampden Academy, Northern Maine Community College, and the University of Maine.

“Architecture is an exciting field on its own,” Mike Johanning says. “As a parent of school-aged children, focusing on facilities that help shape learning is a privilege. All of us on the education studio team are passionate about helping educators and communities to create the best possible learning spaces out of what is often a tight budget. I look forward to continuing to work with Kris and the WBRC team to provide outstanding design services for our current and future clients.”

Kristian Kowal, AIA

Photo of Kristian Kowal and WBRC team at UMaine Ferland Engineering Education and Design Center
Kristian Kowal, AIA (third from bottom on right) and WBRC team at the new UMaine Ferland Engineering Education and Design Center.

A graduate of Syracuse University (M. Arch), Kristian Kowal joined WBRC in March 2010. He quickly gravitated to design projects related to education, science, and innovation. He has designed signature WBRC projects such as MDI Biological Laboratory, Husson University’s Gracie Theatre, Versant Power Astronomy Center, UMaine Cooperative Extension Diagnostic & Research Laboratory, Ferland Engineering Education & Design Center, and the University of Maine’s Athletic Projects. He has also led major planning and renovation projects at Eastern Maine Community College, Bowdoin College, University of Maine at Presque Isle, and for several Maine school districts.

“The decisions made when designing a building affects everything,” Kristian Kowal says. “These choices shape perceptions, behavior, productivity, wellness, safety, energy use, the list goes on. The work we do on behalf of our educational clients is critically important. It is also an honor. Mike and I look forward to continuing to work with Maine educators, the WBRC team, and our project partners to provide remarkable design solutions for years to come.”

About WBRC’s Education Studio

WBRC Inc. has been designing solutions for Maine school districts, colleges, and universities for over 120 years. Founded in 1902 by University of Maine alumnus C. Parker Crowell, FAIA, WBRC has more than 300 new and renovated educational buildings to its credit across the state.

WBRC focuses on four design sectors—education, healthcare, civic, and commercial—and employs specialists in each sector. WBRC’s team of 60 professionals includes architects, engineers, interior designers, landscape architects, and a talented design support team. WBRC has branch offices in Bangor and Portland, Maine, and Lakewood Ranch, Florida, with satellite offices in Columbia, Maryland and Birmingham, Michigan.