Tom Burke: Driving Project Success & Sustainability at Opus

As Senior Project Architect, Tom Burke's role requires communicating with many people about a wide array of topics – all while tracking project details with extraordinary precision.

He is a natural and makes it all look easy, but there's a twist.

“I've found great reward engaging with others around me – but I'm actually a closet introvert," Tom said with a chuckle. “I've had a wide range of unique jobs that have taught me how to work with people from all walks of life."

Tom had at least 18 formative jobs before becoming an architect – including golf course caddy, waterfront dive technician, airport de-icing specialist, youth sports referee, high school track and field coach, museum exhibit builder, valet and estate manager – just to name a few.

“At the time, it didn't seem like those jobs would apply to my eventual career, but I gained valuable interpersonal skills from them," he said.

Those eclectic experiences, as well as his education in architecture and interest in commercial real estate development, led him to Opus.

Collaborating to Deliver

Tom joined Opus in February 2015 after graduating with dual Masters degrees from Catholic University of America – a Master of Architecture with a concentration in Real Estate Development and a Master of Science in Sustainable Design. Previously he earned a Bachelor of Design in Architecture from the University of Minnesota.

In his role as Senior Project Architect, Tom develops projects from schematic design through construction, working with design-build team members to deliver projects on time and on budget. He coordinates closely with designers, engineers and specialty consultants while executing contract documents and conducting code and life safety reviews to ensure project feasibility from a health, safety and welfare perspective.

“I really value how we approach design-build at Opus with our teams in-house," Tom said. “I enjoy coming up with creative solutions together that solve problems, so we can deliver quality projects and meet deadlines."

“My time working within our client-centric approach and the design-build method has been fruitful," Tom continued. “Our people are great – they really care. Even with the size of the company, I feel like I'm on a first name basis with almost everyone in the Minneapolis office. The leadership team across the different companies is second to none. It feels like a big family."

Tom is currently managing two complex multifamily projects – Corsa Apartments in St. Louis Park, Minn., and The Darby at Briarcliff in Kansas City, Mo. He also played a significant role delivering Edison District, a five-story, 125,000-square-foot, mixed-use building in Overland Park, Kan., as well as 365 Nicollet, a 30-story, high-rise multifamily development in downtown Minneapolis.

Leader in Sustainability

Tom is a key player advancing sustainability at Opus. In addition to studying and establishing best practices for building performance standards, he helped form and is a leader of the GREENteam. This cross-functional team of Opus associates evaluates current efforts and establishes goals for additional sustainable practices. Tom has contributed to developing corporate responsibility metrics, which provide an environmental baseline from which the organization can continuously improve.

“In addition to being the right thing to do, sustainability contributes greatly to Opus' success," Tom said. “As clients and new associates engage with us, it's important to strengthen the message and collectively build momentum for sustainable design practices."

“I really appreciate Tom's commitment to sustainability in architecture," said Dean Newins, President & CEO of Architecture & Engineering. “As our company searches for more ways to be environmentally responsible, Tom provides clarity and perspective. He has a strong understanding of our industry and continually looks for ways to help Opus grow in the area."

Bridging the Wonder of Nature with the Built Environment

Opus' commitment to sustainable design speaks to Tom's heart and his preferred way of life.

Growing up, his family was deeply involved in conservation and wildlife preservation. He experienced the wonder of nature firsthand, sharing early childhood memories of building forts in the woods and sand towns on the beach.

“I loved being outdoors," said Tom. “And thinking about how things were built."

“I recall looking at homes and thinking, 'what's behind those windows' or 'what would the view be like from that room?' I was always drawn to buildings that appeared to be intentionally placed or uniquely designed."

A career in architecture was a way to bridge his appreciation for the environment, interest in building things and desire to make a difference.

“I've always viewed sustainability as a way to meld my upbringing with the built environment."

And he is succeeding.

In addition to his sustainability work internally at Opus, Tom participates in AXA XL's 'Sustainability Circle' and is on the executive leadership team for the market leadership advisory board of the Minnesota Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council. He currently is Vice-Chair and will serve as the Co-Chair in 2024.


Tom is helping raise the next green generation. He and his wife have three daughters, ages six, four and two. He prioritizes spending time with his family and looks forward to making memories traveling with them. He also enjoys playing sports, camping, fishing and hunting as well as working on home renovation projects.

Tom holds a Master of Architecture with a Real Estate Development concentration and a Master of Science in Sustainable Design from Catholic University of America and a Bachelor of Design in Architecture from the University of Minnesota. He is a member of the American Institute of Architects.


Our associates are talented, dedicated and knowledgeable. They streamline complex projects and always deliver value to clients. Read more profiles of our team.