Blue Ridge Architects

Architects in Harrisonburg Virginia

Randy Seitz Works on Health Center in Ghana

A women’s health center building in Ghana now has a touch of Harrisonburg, thanks to the faith and hard work of a local architect.

Randy Seitz visited the city of Accra for 10 days last month to lend his technical expertise to the medical building design project as part of Engineering Ministries International. The faith-based group sends teams around the world to improve communities by designing civil engineering projects.

Seitz, President of Blue Ridge Architects and is a member of Ridgeway Mennonite Church, has been an architect for more than 20 years. As the project’s lead designer, he was part of a team of about six people from the U.S. and Canada that assisted with the project, which was in La, a suburb of Accra.

Seitz said EMI offers a unique way for people to demonstrate their skills and share their faith. The visit, he said, was not about doing the work for the community, but forging a partnership.

“At the end of the day, they know how to actually construct something, it was more [about] programming and organization,” he said.

The goal of the project was to expand a small clinic into a full-service maternity hospital. When completed early next year, the building’s space and services will rival what’s available at the capital city’s main hospital.

Its first phase will have about 9,000 square feet and the remainder of the building will add about another 6,000 square feet.

The EMI organization began about 40 years ago by clearing city dumps and installing public toilets. They’ve since shifted their focus to helping design and build civil engineering projects such as health clinics, schools and utility infrastructure. The organization has offices in Colorado, Canada, the United Kingdom, Asia, Central America and Africa. Nearly all of the projects are referred to the organization by word of mouth.

Jason McCool of Little Rock, Ark., joined the team last month. He served as a structural engineer.

“It was a great experience, the people of Ghana were wonderful and it was great to be able to help them realize this dream they’d had for a while,” he said.

McCool said he was glad to be involved because people in the engineering field don’t often get a tangible way to share their gifts in faith.

“If you play guitar or piano, you can use that gift in church. Gifts like that are a little easier to use,” he said. “[In] engineering, you design a building, and [then] nobody needs your services for that building for 10 years or 20 years. It’s nice to be able to use a gift especially when you feel it was something God called you to do.”
Kevin Wiens, an EMI staffer based in Calgary, also said his faith drives his passion for building. He’s been in the building and design field for eight years.

“I believe … God has called me to give back to my community to use [my skills] where needed and where they have a huge impact,” he said.

“I have no doubt that God led me into the engineering field,” McCool added. “I think it’s a great combination to get your career into your faith.”

by NATE DELESLINE, Daily News-Record