Image of Julie Nola doing a New York Times crossword puzzle.

by Savrene Dudwal
Student Writing Intern, FOA Communications

Just like the New York Times puzzles she figures out every morning, Julie Nola treats every new day at work as a puzzle to solve. As an architect and director of Major Capital Projects since 2017, she has worked on and managed numerous projects at UC Davis over the past three decades. Her contributions to maintaining and supporting her beloved UC Davis is felt immensely throughout the campus.

Growing up on Stockton farmland in a cherry and walnut farming family, she had an affinity to open land and nature early on. Her parents always valued education, so when she was accepted to UC Davis, with its strong academics, proximity to home and beautiful, familiar landscape — Julie’s decision to attend came easily. After graduating in 1993 with degrees in design and business management, Julie continued working for the university in a job she started as an undergrad. 

In the following years, Julie rose up the ranks, working as project manager and senior project manager on a plethora of projects, including the Robert Mondavi Institute Brewery, Winery and Food Pilot Facilities; Jess S. Jackson Sustainable Winery; the Manetti Shrem Museum of Art and the Gourley Clinical Teaching Center. Creating facilities that support the education and research happening at the university, while also being conscientious about sustainability is the balance that Julie always wants to achieve in her work.

“I’m proud and honored to have had the opportunity to work on a wide variety of projects that provide great facilities and allow a space for people to continue doing groundbreaking work at the university,” she said.

Moving into a more managerial role in her career, she’s taken everything she’s learned over the last several decades to guide a younger generation of architects.

“As I consider my interests and desired focus heading into the fourth decade of my career, I find I want to do more mentoring and volunteer work,” she said. “I’m particularly interested in supporting women breaking into design and construction management roles.”

Of course, her career achievements haven’t come without hardships; she recalls, especially early in her career, often being the only woman in the room and thus not being taken seriously or professionally. She points out that atmosphere has improved significantly in recent times. With two daughters of her own, she hopes to be an example of boundless limits on what a woman can achieve.

Currently, Julie is looking forward to seeing the completion of a range of different projects, including the Edwards Family Athletics Center, Teaching and Learning Complex, Diane Bryant Engineering Student Design Center and many more. As a UC Davis alumna, she is inspired to see the campus grow and improve. And she’ll keep solving those puzzles to create the most efficient, sustainable buildings for generations of Aggies to come.

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