LM: I like to put myself in my client’s shoes and think of what I would like my experience to be if I were them. I remind others to think of each project this way. It is always gratifying to hear from a client or end user that they are really happy with their space. Even then, I like to look back and make notes on how it could have been better. This motivates me to tackle a new design with humility and desire to do my best.
Q: What skillsets do you feel sets you apart from your peers and colleagues?
LM: I think of myself as extremely patient, very persistent and always positive. In general, I like to look at every angle of a design, from the overall feel of a space to how it will be constructed. This is a direct result of many years of renovating my own home and doing the work ourselves.
I feel that there is always a solution to any problem, and you just have to step back to take a look at the big picture. If you sit and stress out about every little obstacle, you are not going to survive. I’d rather take the approach of everybody stepping back and see how many solutions we can come up with, or explore the solutions one step at a time. That’s my attitude in life, and not just in architecture and in work.
Q: Can you share an example when you were successful against the odds or particularly unique challenges?
LM: While at a previous firm, I had picked up a project from someone who left the office suddenly. When I started on the project, the fee was gone and DD had not yet started. To make the most efficient use of my time, I minimized the number of hours I spent on the project and focused energy on maximizing the quality of the time spent. Despite the scramble to pick up the pieces and a frustrated client, I finished the job. And despite the challenging schedule, the project was completed on time for the client.
The client, a well-known orthopedic doctor, told me after the job was completed that he had received many compliments on the new space and that he was happy. In the end, even with all of the obstacles I’d inherited, by keeping a level head and remaining communicative with everyone involved, the project was very successful. We managed to have a good outcome and the client was pleased.
Q: What are some of your most important career accomplishments?
LM: I feel that each finished project is a career accomplishment. All jobs have particular challenges and each time a job is completed, a sense of relief and accomplishment is achieved. On a personal note, as a mother of three I also felt proud that I ran jobs, attended site meetings, and worked up until the time I had each of my children. The challenges that go along with taking care of my family and working full time are to me an accomplishment that I feel proud of.
Q: What is one project or assignment that you feel most proud of?
LM: I feel proud of all my projects and love that, because of the nature of my work, they are enjoyed by many. In particular, I feel very proud of the lobby at 125 Park Avenue. It was my first experience running a job of that scale on my own and the one project where the transformation was the most evident. I recently met a person who worked in that building and remembered the lobby as it was before and commented on how they loved the new space. It was gratifying (and a surprise to him) to tell him that I was the architect who did it.
Q: Do you belong to any professional organizations or community groups?
LM: I am the consulting architect for the facilities group for my daughters’ school, The Ethical Community Charter School.
Q: What are some of your goals here at Huntsman?
LM: I would like to use my experience to continue to do work with NYC clients and thus help make Huntsman the go-to firm for corporate interiors. I would like to see our NYC office grow.
Q: Has your design work been recognized or received awards?
LM: The Betances Community Boxing Gym, located in the Bronx, won a Merit Award by the New York State AIA chapter and local New York City chapter. The Cooper Union Foundation Building won a New York Landmarks Conservancy Award. Additionally, my thesis on the significance of historical preservation and its impact on the cultural identity of the city won an AIA Certificate of Merit.