bema noun  \ˈbē-mə\ Greek: "step" or "platform"

In ancient Greece, the bema was a physical raised platform constructed of stone or wood, from which orators addressed citizens and presented arguments for public discourse.  It was a central fixture in the public, political and ceremonial life of Greek citizens.

Bema A/E is a platform for providing thoughtful, tailored architectural and structural engineering services to clients and owners.  In essence it's a platform for offering professional design services to individuals, organizations and institutions.


Initially educated as a structural engineer, earning a Bachelors of Engineering at Vanderbilt and a Masters of Engineering at Cornell, I practiced consulting structural engineering for about 6 years in upstate New York with one small engineering firm, and Atlanta, Georgia, at Uzun & Case Engineers.  I was able to work on a wide range of project types, including both new construction and renovations at universities, churches, schools, public buildings and infrastructure, and commercial buildings.

Spurred by a desire to understand buildings more holistically than I could as a specialty engineer, I returned to school and earned a Masters of Architecture at Georgia Tech.  It was a true paradigm shift in my work, experience, and perception of the built environment.  I won the school of architecture's highest award for my thesis project, and upon graduation was fortunate enough to be able to attend an intensive workshop with lauded architect Glenn Murcutt in Sydney, Australia, along with other very talented architects from all over the world. 

I practiced as an architect at Houser Walker Architecture in Atlanta for about 6 years on projects that included university buildings, churches, public buildings, and private residences.  I concurrently taught several structural engineering courses within the school of architecture at Georgia Tech.

In 2012 I returned to my hometown of Chattanooga, Tennessee, and established Bema A/E , with the intent to provide full service architectural and structural engineering services for private residences, small commercial and institutional projects, and sculptural installations.  I currently carry registration in Tennessee, Georgia, and South Carolina as architect, and registration as engineer in Tennessee and Georgia.  Reciprocal registration possible in most other states upon need. 


Jamie O'Kelley, AIA, PE