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Design, Incorporated – Reinventing Contemporary Practice and Workplace Culture

June 8 @ 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm PDT

AIA LA Presents: Design, Incorporated – Reinventing Contemporary Practice and Workplace Culture

This is a free virtual event. Please register using the link below. 

This panel discussion will serve as a forum to discuss best-practices in managing a profitable, purposeful, and diverse architecture & design firm. Speakers will highlight successful approaches to ensure a healthy, collaborative, and equitable workplace culture. Topics will include inclusive hiring protocols, paid internships, attracting & retaining top talent, and how to increase the value of the architecture firm’s ‘instruments of service’. As the architecture profession continues to evolve, we’ll explore opportunities for how to shift away from the mindset of ‘giving it away for free’ towards managing a practice that can sustain operations with a stronger connection to the communities we serve. We are having this conversation because we have arrived at a moment in which significant changes need to urgently happen in direct response to several issues: workplace culture has become severely off balance; very low salaries for young designers who start working in firms; pervasive school and studio culture that promotes unhealthy behavior (long nights etc); clients not valuing the work of architects and asking firms to work for free, etc.. After the panel discussion, AIA Los Angeles will organize a community town hall (date TBD) to hear more insight and input from architects, designers, emerging professionals, and students about pro-active next steps and policy initiatives that will deliver measurable outcomes.



Mitra Memari, AIA – President, AIA Los Angeles & Partner, ZGF

Born in Iran, Mitra emigrated to the U.S. as a teenager. With the last name of Memari, which translates to architect in her native language of Farsi, one thing is clear: Mitra was born to be an architect. Through adapting to a new culture and language at a young age, she developed a passion for diversity, inclusion, and equity. In her practice of architecture and in her role as a partner, Mitra has made it her mission to create a more equitable profession that is representative of the communities in which we live and work. Mitra’s ethics-driven approach also includes a passion for sustainable design—a passion she leverages to create seamless, collaborative, and lasting relationships across client and project teams.

Leslie Sydnor, AIA – VP/ President-elect, AIA Los Angeles & Director of Public Project Management , Cumming 

Leslie is a director at Cumming; currently working as a planning and development project manager for LAUSD. She has over 25 years of experience in the design of education, aviation, industrial, and low-income housing projects. Leslie is Vice President/President-elect of the AIALA Board of directors and past co-chair of the Justice Equity Diversity and Inclusion (J.E.D.I.) committee.  She teaches Architectural Project Management at Cal Poly Pomona, is on the Woodbury University Construction Management Program Advisory Board and mentors emerging professionals. Leslie has a B.A. in Architecture from Yale and an M.Arch from UCLA.

Andrea Lamberti AIA, – President, AIA NYC & Partner, Rafael Viñoly Architects

During her 22-year career with Viñoly, Andrea Lamberti has led both master plan and building projects for academic, research, cultural, corporate, commercial, and civic clients. She also oversees strategic planning, new business development, and marketing for the firm, worldwide.

Ms. Lamberti’s role in supporting the firm’s strategic initiatives encompasses research and training program development, publication initiatives, and business development strategy as well as competition and proposal efforts. For her work in this arena she has traveled to Asia, the Middle East, Europe and throughout the United States, establishing partnerships and cultivating opportunities for the firm’s engagement.

Simultaneously, Ms. Lamberti is an accredited architect and has led several projects over the firm’s history. Her recent university and research facility experience includes oversight of the new Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina, USA, slated to receive LEED Platinum certification. She also directed Phase II of the Van Andel Institute for Medical Education and Research in Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA, a LEED-Platinum biomedical research facility that opened in December 2009. In the early 2000s, she relocated to Bethesda, Maryland, USA to lead the John Edward Porter Neuroscience Research Center at the National Institutes of Health from design competition to completion.

Ms. Lamberti has also been involved with many of the firm’s international master plans. In particular, she led the master plan for New York University Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, a project Viñoly subsequently designed and managed. She has managed plans for large institutions, including a campus plan for Rockefeller University in New York City, USA and for commercial developers, including the Battersea Power Station Master Plan, centered around the preservation of historically significant structures in London, UK

Michael Pinto, AIA – Design Director, NAC Architecture

Michael is Design Director at NAC Architecture in pursuit of empathic, humane design. His work seeks the intersection of social purpose, tactical research, and wit. Michael leads design with a strong emphasis on community engagement, believing that real and pragmatic concerns inform his best work. An energetic designer, Michael has led projects to win over 30 design awards in his career. He is a frequent lecturer and activist focused on improving the human experience for students and communities. Currently, Michael is studying evidence-based strategies for design for education and how design can prepare students for future jobs and workspaces. He is a former faculty at Art Center College of Design, Southern California Institute of Architecture, and Woodbury University School of Architecture and a graduate of Penn State University (BArch) and SCI-Arc (MArch).

Wendy S. Rogers, FAIA – Chief Executive Officer & Chief Talent Officer, LPA Design Studios

Wendy Rogers is CEO and Chief Talent Officer of LPA Design Studios, an integrated design firm with more than 400 architects, engineers, landscape architects and interior designers focused on a collaborative, research-driven design process. Under her leadership, LPA has grown as a diverse, transparent, independent firm, setting new standards for sustainable, high-performance projects. In 2021, LPA was honored with the American Institute of Architects (AIA) California’s Firm Award, recognizing its contribution to architecture, industry-leading work on energy performance and inclusive firm culture.

Wendy started her career as an intern at LPA and was named Chief Executive Officer in 2017. As CEO, she handles the day-to-day operations of the firm, with a special focus on increasing the role of LPA’s proprietary research unit, LPAred, and expanding LPA’s collaborative culture. As Chief Talent Officer, she is also responsible for initiatives to retain and attract people who want to grow and make a difference in the built environment.

Wendy is a vocal advocate for sustainable design and the importance of using research to support design strategies, helping to make energy performance a core value on every project, regardless of size or budget. For two years in a row, LPA was largest firm in the country to surpass the energy performance targets of the AIA 2030 Commitment. She is a regular speaker at events advocating for designs that respond to the environment and the needs of the people who use the spaces.

A graduate of California Polytechnic State University in Pomona, California, Wendy is a LEED Accredited Professional and a Fellow of the AIA.

Raun L. Thorp, AIA – Principal, Tichenor & Thorp Architects, Inc.
Raun L. Thorp, AIA, is co-founder of Tichenor & Thorp Architects, a multidisciplinary design firm based in Los Angeles, California. Since its founding in 1990, the firm has completed more than 400 projects nationwide and is recognized for original, artful residential and commercial designs that beautifully integrate largescale structures and surrounding landscapes.

Major commercial projects include the design for the new Los Angeles Times headquarters and Test Kitchen, the expansion of NantWorks’ Culver City headquarters, and the NantWorks El Segundo campus incorporating The Chan Soon-Shiong Institute for Medicine at Mariposa: a recently completed cutting edge immuno-therapy cancer clinic. Tichenor & Thorp is committed to designs for building a sustainable future. The NantWorks campus in Culver City sits upon reclaimed oil fields in the north Baldwin Hills and will be entirely energy self-sufficient. Other commercial projects of note include NantStudios, Los Angeles’ largest virtual production studio complex, design and the firm’s own offices in a converted mixed-use structure that encompasses Venue 66, a flexible events space and professional kitchen in the former La Cachette restaurant building near Century City, overseen by Ms. Thorp. Currently on the boards are large-scale commercial endeavors in Culver City, the South Bay, and New York, as well as residential projects ranging from California to the East Coast.

Thorp, in addition to her multi-faceted design work, oversees the firm’s interiors work, business development and operations. She is actively engaged in the design and philanthropic communities and currently serves on the Board of Directors of Big Sunday, a national non-profit, as well as having served for many years on the South Carthay HPOZ board.



June 8
5:00 pm - 7:00 pm PDT


A virtual ZOOM meeting