The fingerprints of Julia Johnson, a partner at Pablo Properties, can be found throughout Eau Claire in places both obvious and obscure. She helped choose the lobby wallpaper in the Pablo Center at the Confluence. You’ll find her aesthetic in the orange exterior frame and “beer here” tile mat of the Brewing Projekt’s new taproom. The black-and-white musical mural in The Informalist was her doing, as were the very bricks and stones chosen to construct the Jamf office building. She loves the details, down to choosing paint chips.
These elements are small marks left by giant organizational efforts on Johnson’s part. Since the early days of Jamf Software, where she was one of the first employees, she has been at the forefront of efforts to build the community around her, paving the way for downtown to bloom into a bustling business, arts, and retail center in the Chippewa Valley. The Jamf building was her first big project, followed by the renovation of the Lismore Hotel.
“In order for the Pablo Center to be successful, it needed a hotel downtown that could support the Pablo Center’s activity,” Johnson said. Business professionals and nationally known artists alike can find respite at the hotel between meetings or performances. It was one of the key projects that paved the way for Pablo.
Johnson is involved mainly with property development and project management. “I’m the one who’s there on the first day and the last day,” she said. Johnson coordinates the talents of artists, organizations, and other managers, connecting them with the resources they need to implement their ideas. “Collaboration in my job is absolutely the best part,” she said.
“I’m absolutely in love with nature and our natural environment,” Johnson said. “I try to bring the beauty of nature into everything that we do.” She believes there are many lessons to be learned from the earth and its ability to sustain and protect itself. Johnson has aimed to preserve access to nature in her work in downtown, advocating for the preservation of tree cover and improving the city’s connection to the Eau Claire and Chippewa rivers.
“In thinking about my building projects, there’s always this conundrum of form and function … and while I love the form, I feel successful if we got the function down.”
Accessibility is a theme throughout Johnson’s work. Physical access to nature and pedestrian access to different parts of town are priorities for her, as is ensuring that people from all socioeconomic backgrounds are able to benefit from the advancement of Eau Claire.
“In thinking about my building projects, there’s always this conundrum of form and function … and while I love the form, I feel successful if we got the function down.” By Johnson’s reckoning, the function of the spaces she is involved with is to welcome people and to make them happy and comfortable as they navigate downtown Eau Claire. At every turn, she asks: “How is this going to affect the organism that is downtown?”