Although now living and working in Atlanta, Georgia, architect Scott Ball '87 still points to his Bowdoin experience as one that was and incredibly formative.

"As an architect and town planner, primarily what I'm looking at has all grown from trying to figure out how design works in people's lives," Ball said. "And this is an exploration that fundamentally began for me at Bowdoin."

"It was during my time there that I developed this very basic way of thinking that remains incredibly central in my life," Ball said, recalling one specific experience with A. LeRoy Greason Professor of Art Mark Wethli.

"It was an exercise we did copying a well-known masterwork," Ball said. "Mark would have it up there on the slide projector, completely out of focus, and he would ask us to paint it. Gradually, as the exercise progressed, he'd keep zooming in on it until it finally came into focus. It was such a great way to teach tonality and aligning edges and outlines, but it resonated with me on an even greater level. It's a way of thinking, a way of understanding that things don't just line up all at once."

Ball locates many pivotal moments in his education at Bowdoin, during which he majored in visual arts.

"I really had no idea coming into Bowdoin that this was something that would be important to me," said Ball. "But I took my first class sophomore year and I was hooked. Really obsessed with it."

While Ball began by working amongst different media, he explains that it was in his junior year with Professor Wethli's arrival to the college that he first became interested in sculpture.

"Before that, my visual arts education had been very traditional, very Beaux-Arts, in the sense that it was academic and linear," said Ball. "When I worked with Mark, it was the first time I'd worked with a teacher who was as interested in what you were doing on the side - in the way you stacked your paints, for example - as he was in what you were doing on the canvas."

"He was definitely trying to help me find a way to a place that was intuitive and special," Ball added. "In doing that, I realized I wasn't just limited to easel painting. Anything went, really, and so I found myself moving into sculpture."

Following this period of artistic growth at Bowdoin, Ball moved to New York City and worked with several artists including the abstract expressionist sculptor Mark di Suvero.

Ball said that it was the size and effect of such large scale sculpture that eventually pushed him to pursue architecture. Although he first pursued his artistic passions by selling and showing art within the gallery system and studying in an MFA program, Ball realized that his interest in sculpture and the arts existed on a larger, more resonant level.

"My sculptures were getting large," Ball said, "and I had become very interested in how they interacted with people. As I was maturing, my sense of the world and community was enlarging as well and that was directly reflected in my work."

"My pieces were becoming larger and larger things that people could move through and they were getting at this bigger understanding of the community and how it existed in space," he added. "I began to realize I needed to do architecture."

It was Ball's desire to involve himself in the community that motivated his work after receiving his graduate degree from Yale University.

Ball's experiences following Yale reflect this desire. He worked for an architectural firm on affordable housing and later with a non-profit in Atlanta which became the Community Housing Resource Center, for which he worked on renovations, design advocacy and legislation.

It was because of these experiences, Ball explained, that "when Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, I had already developed and come to understand systems undertaking such large scale renovation. So many houses needed to be rebuilt and renovated and when money came in I joined the team that was managing the Louisiana Project and helped stand up the recovery program for that."

Consequentially, Ball became interested in the "tremendous amount of reconstructive work that was going on in the Gulf."

"There was fascinating town planning work occurring there," he said.

Ball has invested himself in such efforts for the past two years and explained that he works in a way that is, "at the heart, a very complex way to approach questions of form, space and community."

"We're facing questions like: how do you physically create a city that functions economically but also creates an image and brands itself? It's fascinating, and one thing that's fascinating about it is that I'm addressing the same visual issues I grappled with at Bowdoin but on a more elaborate scale," he said.

Now, I get this chance to do a major development and I'm weighing, for example, how to make this space work for pedestrians in this one specific neighborhood," he added. "They're the same old questions but to answer them its no longer just me sitting alone with a canvas and paint."

"Now I work to inspire people and at other times I work to mitigate bad decision making, but what it all comes back to is getting people to understand these concepts," Ball said. "It's back to that unfocused master-work idea. I work with these people and, while the solution is blurry at first, gradually they begin to understand and problems become solvable."

While Ball continues to address these issues as an architect and town planner, sculpture and the act of artistic creation remain very present in his life. When he moved back to Atlanta, Ball says, one of the top priorities was setting up a studio again.

"It's painful, not having a studio. Now, as an architect, the end result may be more in forms and space, but it still all starts with your hands moving materials," he said. If you don't have that fundamental connection to moving materials you lose some understanding of where you'll go with everything else. "For more than three years I've been with out that, and there's nothing more exciting than the thought of having a studio again," Ball added. "Of being able to begin to think: What am I going to make now?"