Adam Terrell-Payne was a prototypical Park School student, stretching himself to try many activities before graduating in 2005. Now a Project Engineer with LPCiminelli in Buffalo, he is still a man of wide-ranging skills.
When Payne isn’t on the job for LPCiminelli, one of upstate New York’s largest construction firms, he is using his talents as a freelance designer and photographer.
“Design has been my passion since I was little and got my first Lego set,” he said. “I began designing model cities when I was 11 or 12. I remember being in Miss Pileri’s Spanish class when we had to make a floor plan of a house and label each part in Spanish. I made a 3-D model of my house. I’ve always liked taking things a step further.”
Payne attended Tuskegee University. He originally went to study mechanical engineering but realized that wasn’t his true passion. “I am more of a designer than an engineer,” he said. He has designed everything from business cards to home interiors, buildings, and other things in his side business. Also a skilled photographer, he has shot weddings, graduations, and landscapes, among other things. He says Park launched him on his career path.
“Our class was very diverse, with people from many different backgrounds,” he says. “I learned how to communicate with all of them and communication is now a huge part of my job.”
These days, Payne’s job is focused on LPCiminelli’s renovation of more than 50 public schools in Buffalo, a 10-year, $1 billion project. “We are down to the last seven schools,” said Payne, who wears many different hats including project manager, obtaining contractor bids, meeting with architects, and dealing with budgets.
“It’s fun,” he says. “There is no design involved, which is my background, but basic project management skills are useful to an architect, so hopefully this will be a stepping-stone to becoming a licensed architect one day. “And I like that I get to move around and do different things. I have worked on 15 Buffalo schools, working on location. I am not just sitting in an office all day, crunching numbers and sending e-mails.”
Like many Park graduates, Payne finds it difficult to single out one teacher who influenced him the most. After a moment of thought, however, he says that Glenna Korvne was particularly memorable.
“Mrs. Korvne was my math teacher in middle school and upper school, and my homeroom teacher from freshman through senior year, along with Mr. Bailey. She was a great teacher, and not just in the classroom. The education I got from her the most were the things outside the classroom – life lessons. I could reach out to her for anything.”
Payne recalls doing “a little bit of everything” at Park, which he entered in fifth grade. “I did student council for a couple of years. I held the treasurer position. I was vice president of the class one year. I did one of Mr. Bailey’s plays. I discovered I wasn’t very good at that, but Mr. Bailey let me try it.”
Payne, who graduated in the top 5 percent of his architecture class at Tuskegee, also gives credit to his academic curriculum at Park. “All the different classes I was able to take were important – including advanced placement. Much of what I learned I was able to use in college from day one. I was able to take on anything.”