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ZENA HOWARD

Perkins+Will
African American AIA Fellow


SAY IT LOUD - SXSW
SAY IT LOUD(ER) - SXSW
SAY IT LOUD - A'19 Exhibitor
SAY IT LOUD - NOMA 50th Exhibition
SAY IT LOUD - Washington DC Exhibitor

California Based Designer

What excites you in the work you do?

Telling stories through the built expression. Every site has a story - that unique blend of physical, cultural, and historic character. Engaging the people and communities is critical in creating meaningful, relevant, and enduring solutions.

ZENA HOWARD

Bio:
The great designers , Zena Howard is a Principal and Managing Director of the North Carolina practice of global architecture and design firm Perkins+Will. Zena is known for her success leading visionary, complex, and culturally-significant projects including the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC.
 
How did you first learn about architecture and when did you decide that built environment profession was an area of interest for you?
As a child I learned how the built environment profoundly impact one’s quality of life and social well-being. I was intrigued by how design can help create shared experiences and nurture positive change.

What do you do?
As Managing Director, my goal is design excellence achieved through mentoring staff and working with some of the best clients and communities. As a Principal Architect, I engage deeper in the design and execution of our most meaningful work.

What excites you in the work you do?
Telling stories through the built expression. Every site has a story - that unique blend of physical, cultural, and historic character. Engaging the people and communities is critical in creating meaningful, relevant, and enduring solutions.
 
Who or what inspires you professionally?
I am most inspired by the people that I am blessed to work with. While pursuing my passion for great design, I also form some of the most enduring relationships with my team, my clients, and the people these projects honor and represent.
 
What is your proudest professional accomplishment or achievement?
The work that I do with people who have historically been denied a voice in the design of their own environments, to reconnect and remember lost communities and histories, to celebrate diversity, and to give voice to the underrepresented.
 

Object:

Object Two - Practice Management, or Practice Technical Advancement

 

Year of Elevation: 

2018


Featured Project Name: 
Destination Crenshaw 
 
Featured Project Location: 
Los Angeles, CA
 
Featured Project Completion Date: 
Spring 2020

Role in Featured Project: 
Managing Principal 
 
Featured Project Description:
Destination Crenshaw’s design was driven by a unifying theme—Grow Where You’re Planted, inspired by the African Giant Star Grass. Used by slave traders as bedding on ships, the grass thrives in alien lands despite inhospitable conditions. It remains a profoundly resonant reminder of African American history, the patterns of global dispersion and black resilience in the face of violence and racism. Like the Giant Star Grass, the Black LA community has irrepressible roots that have flourished and spread.

Photography Credit:
Perkins+Will

Featured Project Name: 
Smithsonian Institution National Museum of African American History and Culture


Featured Project Location: 
Washington DC


Featured Project Completion Date: 
September 2016

Role in Featured Project: 
Senior Project Manager


Featured Project Description:
Located on Constitution Avenue, adjacent to the National Museum of American History and the Washington Monument, the museum will house exhibit galleries, administrative spaces, theatre space and collections storage space for the NMAAHC. The design rests on three cornerstones: the “corona” shape and form of the building; the extension of the building out into the landscape – the porch; and the bronze filigree envelope.

Photography Credit:
Darren Bradley