Krysta Aten-Schell, 29: Bernier, Carr & Associates


Krysta S. Aten-Schell is passionate about everything she does, much like her father was.

The Idaho native, who moved to the north country six years ago, said her drive to succeed in life is a trait she shared with her father, Mark J. Schell, who died after an airplane crash last year in her hometown of Idaho Falls.

“He taught me to work very hard and always strive to be the best in everything, whether that was with school, business, career or family,” said Mrs. Aten-Schell, who Bernier, Carr & Associates of Watertown hired in 2008 after she graduated at the top of her class from Idaho University.

She serves as LEED administrator and an intern architect at the Mullin Street firm. A U.S. Green Building Council designation, LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, which awards energy-efficient projects with special certification.

Mrs. Aten-Schell’s career path has similarities with the one taken by her father, a mechanical engineer for 30 years who owned a small business on the side, selling synthetic oil products for vehicles. As a youngster, she recalls selling oil products with him and fixing cars during weekends.

“Most kids were watching cartoons, and I was hanging out in automobile shops learning about cars,” she said. “I was learning the principles of what it means to be a professional.”

Apart from her day job, Mrs. Aten-Schell is also a small business owner like her father was. She and her husband, Cory J. Aten, have managed a home-based photography business for six years in Adams Center, his hometown. They met while she was competing in the Miss Idaho beauty pageant in the fall of 2005. He was in Idaho visiting one of her cousins at the time.

As LEED administrator for Bernier, Carr & Associates, Mrs. Aten-Schell plans energy-efficient components of projects, teaming up with engineers and architects to do so. She played a key role in designing the two-story gymnasium with an elevated running track at LaFargeville Central School District in 2011 — part of a $13 million modernization project. The $2.8 million gym features energy-efficient skylights and windows, along with a roof garden to absorb rainwater. It’s powered by solar panels mounted to its facade and a wind turbine on the school grounds. Sustainable materials were used for all aspects of the project.

“It got down to deciding whether we were going to use recycled content in the concrete,” she said.

LaFargeville became the first LEED-certified K-12 school in the north country as a result of the project designed by the Watertown firm, earning “silver status” under the program. The firm always strives to ensure all projects use sustainable elements, she said, regardless of whether they achieve LEED certification. Though investing in renewable energy can be initially expensive for clients, they achieve a return on their investment in the long run from savings.

In 2009, Mrs. Aten-Schell launched an in-house training program at the firm based on the LEED program. About 15 employees have passed tests to become LEED-accredited as a result of the program.

Mrs. Aten-Schell is now accumulating hours of experience as a student enrolled in the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards’ Intern Development Program. She said she hopes to earn a total of 5,600 hours of experience within the next two years to earn a professional architect’s license.

While not crafting blueprints at work, Mrs. Aten-Schell helps organize productions for the Watertown Lyric Theater. She was the production manager of the group’s fall performance in November of “South Pacific,” a classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical. Her other hobbies include tending to her organic fruit and vegetable garden and playing the violin — a hobby she picked up as a fifth-grader. She likes to play classical music composed by Bach and Beethoven.

“I love the lyrical nature of the themes and how they can grow,” she said. “I see things happen in my head when I listen to music.”

An argument could be made that the music is akin to her design work.

“I also like the structure — it appeals to me,” she said.

— by Ted Booker


The Krysta S. Aten-Schell File

Hometown: Idaho Falls, Idaho

Professional position: LEED administrator and intern architect at Bernier, Carr & Associates, Watertown

Family: Husband, Cory J. Aten

Education: Bachelor’s degree in architecture, University of Idaho, 2008

Community involvement: Board member and publicity coordinator, Watertown Lyric Theater

Last book read: “The Glass Dragon” by Irene Radford