The Catholic University of America


Bill Jelen


98% of buildings are designed and built without an architect’s services. Much of this is due to the public’s view of architects as an expensive luxury as opposed to a necessary facilitator and value added member of the construction team. Some believe that architects are marginalizing themselves by not interfacing with a greater segment of society. William Jelen has dedicated his career to change this paradigm. William Jelen is both a licensed architect practitioner and a member of the faculty at The Catholic University School of Architecture and Planning. His primary teaching and research focus is Practice Management, Comprehensive Design Teaching, and Pro-Bono practice through the implementation of design build projects. His most important responsibility at CUA is the Directorship of CUAdc, the in-house pro bono design collaborative.

The Catholic University Design Collaborative or CUAdc is an organization for student engagement in the local community through design and design build projects. For the past eight years, William Jelen has led students on many award winning projects for non-profits in Washington DC. In 2012 he completed the construction of a 400sf Hermitage on the Franciscan Monastery grounds in Brookland, which won the 2010 DC AIA Un-built Award, and is set to be the first of four. He has also led worked with community groups like Metro Teen Aids, The Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, the World Bank Community Foundation as well as several DC public and charter schools.

His most recent collaborative experience was the leadership of Team Capitol DC in the design and construction of their 2013 Solar Decathlon entry: Harvest Home. As project coordinator and Principal investigator for the Department of Energy’s $100,000 grant, William led a team of 10 faculty and almost 100 students to compete in Irvine , California. The Harvest Home was designed to be net zero energy, modular, and sustainable. It was donated to a homeless veterans housing provider in San Diego County after the competition. 

William Jelen’s design practice: William Jelen Architect Inc. expands on his academic interest in economically feasible and environmentally sustainable design as a way of broadening architecture's impact on society. Over half of his firms work is in affordable, sustainable housing. Currently he is working on a 35 unit cooperative housing project in DC and a new Visitor’s Center for the Franciscan Monastery.

William attended Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA and The University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. He has practiced in San Francisco, Philadelphia and Washington DC for firms both large and small. Projects of note include Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia PA and Caymanas Park in Kingston, Jamaica.