10 Ennead Women on Making an Impact

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On International Women’s Day we asked the question: “How are women making an impact at Ennead?”

Melanie Simmons, Architectural Designer
Ennead has provided me with the opportunity to work with majority-women teams and dynamic women leading our projects. They go above and beyond to encourage, teach, support, and help develop the next set of women architects. This has been invaluable to me personally. Women are making an impact at Ennead office-wide by leading initiatives that enhance the office culture and make the firm greater! From Daniella Cobb-Holley in HR with our DEI initiatives to the newly joined Julia Gamolina with her Madame Architect platform, women at Ennead are using their voices to increase the representation and visibility of women architects and women architects of color.

Yeng Wu, Associate Principal
Ennead is a practice that thrives on a plurality of voices at every level, where women both listen and lead. Like our best work that synthesizes experience across many project types into new paradigms, we motivate through change, transformation and empathy, optimizing our internal communities to support one another and our clients. As an office culture, we both celebrate and elevate the diversity of voices that allows us to create architecture that is inclusive, expressive, and humanist at its core.

Melanie Weismiller, Senior Associate
When I joined Ennead as a recent graduate, I wasn’t expecting my voice as a young designer to be taken seriously. It only took a few days to realize my preconceived notions were wrong -- Ennead values design voices at all levels, and now, as a senior designer, it is my job to empower the next generation of young designers. As women, we make up half of the public, therefore, half of building users and clients. Designers need to represent and reflect the population to create inclusive and successful spaces for all.

Molly McGowan, Partner
Making an impact can mean challenging perceived constraints and assumptions in order to arrive at an outcome that delivers more than would otherwise have been possible. It’s about seeing opportunities where others may not. I think that begins with how you approach an issue and the openness with which you engage everyone in the room and leverage the power of different ways of thinking. Whether it’s running a job or running the office, I don’t enter a problem-solving situation with the goal of convincing people to reach a particular end, but rather, ‘How can our work together produce a better solution that none of us would have arrived at individually?’

Ayumi Sugiyama, Associate Principal
I appreciate the mixture of perspectives that my binary and nonbinary colleagues and collaborators bring to the design table and the industry. As a woman, I feel we often contribute a humanism and an empathy to the practice of architecture that not only fosters individual and collective goals, but helps grow our teams, and realize designs that benefit a multiplicity of users. This way of thinking is powerful. A surprisingly large part of what makes architecture happen is achieved via a true sense of community and understanding, within our teams and with our clients, consultants, and builders, as we share a vision and work together to bring it to fruition.

Kate Kulpa, Associate Principal
My first project at the firm was the Clinton Presidential Library where the team was comprised of so many young women that were excellent in design, coordination, and team building. All these women have gone on to become leaders in architecture (and beyond). Our firm continues to grow and includes an ever-expanding group of women that lead in all positions, but most notably for me, as incredible technical architects, realizing our ‘design first’ goal down to the last detail and throughout the complexities of the building process.

Weiwei Kuang, Senior Associate
With their insightful perspectives and clear opinions, Ennead women are uniquely expert at getting closer to the core of design problems and finding solutions. Women who have made an art of having an opinion bring an important, other dimension to an industry historically dominated by male voices.

Emily Kirkland, Associate Principal
In our role as architects, we work with clients to first understand their needs and then craft mission-defining spaces. Women at Ennead bring the value of our own experiences to bear as we deliver environments that consciously signal greater inclusivity, like when we collaborated with users from The University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business to create the vibrant, soaring, light-filled Robert B. Rowling Hall with the specific goal of leaving the visual language of darkened old boys’ clubs in the past, in favor of an architecture that is inherently welcoming to all.

Angela Chi, Senior Associate
As Director of BIM Practice, I am building the Ennead BIM Ecosystem – a framework of tools and workflows that enables teams to be more efficient, giving time back to design. Most recently, my work has been focused on advocacy. We are recognizing and empowering those who are doing important behind-the-scenes work – like our Ennead BIM Leads – acknowledging the growing importance of their contributions as they impact so many aspects of the increasingly complex and integrated nature of project delivery. As we evolve our processes, explore new technologies, rethink how our teams are structured and how work is done, it is exciting to see how this influences leadership opportunities for our staff, and how that results in better buildings.

Jessica Ordaz-Garcia, Architectural Designer
As someone who still has plenty to learn and achieve, I’ve felt empowered working alongside so many confidently talented women that provide a sense of support when it comes to being in a team, as well as some serious tenacity when it comes to getting things done. Not only are women at Ennead conquering the challenges of architecture, but they are also creating space for sharing ideas and developing strengths - all things that are so important for someone early in their career. From mentoring, to managing a project, or helping to avert any disasters in Revit, Ennead women have been key to my fruitful experience here.