Zena Howard

FAIA, LEED AP
Principal, Managing Director, North Carolina

Zena’s avid interest in shared cultural roots has shaped a body of design work that exemplifies her belief that the built environment can be a framework through which to share essential stories—strengthening the wellbeing and advancement of communities. Her career has been defined by visionary, complex, and culturally-significant projects, such as the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., that navigate social issues of equity and justice, restoring lost cultural connections by honoring history and memory.

Zena has been integral in developing and realizing Remembrance Design™, an urban and architectural design process that engages historically under-served and negatively impacted communities to redress painful issues, bridge diverse experiences, inspire resilient communities, and infuse culture into projects. She embraces cross-disciplinary collaboration as an essential design tool to integrate a broad range of experience and specialized knowledge, such as urban design, public policy, art, history, economics, and anthropology, into the architectural process.

A Cultural Practice Leader and Managing Director of the North Carolina practice, Zena is also a founding member of Perkins&Will’s global Diversity and Inclusion Council. By example and through advocacy and mentoring, she advances diversity within the architecture profession, a field where minority and women professionals are historically under-represented.

City of Vancouver, Hogan's Alley Initiative
Vancouver, BC
“The power of place is amazing. Form, color, proportion, and concept are standards of design. Reaching past those—to offer identity and an authentic design narrative—connects people to places and spaces in a way that is celebratory and resilient.”
Zena served as Senior Project Manager for the Smithsonian Institution
National Museum of African American
History and Culture
Washington, District of Columbia
Zena is an advocate for diversity within the architecture profession, a field where minority and women professionals are historically under-represented.
As one of 0.2% of architects in the U.S who are African American women, she is a founding member of Perkins&Will’s Diversity and Inclusion Council.
Anacostia Library
Washington, District of Columbia
Zena's Projects are about Positive Change
With an intense curiosity about communities, their history, and the events that have given shape to their identity, Zena leads focused workshops with project and community leaders to understand experiential aspirations and broad programmatic goals.
Zena’s life philosophy—
you can HAVE it all:
  1. Helping others is the best way
    to help yourself.
  2. Associate with great people.
  3. Value the worth of others.
  4. Engage with people and learn
    from them.

Zena's Featured Work

Work
National Museum of African American History and Culture
Washington, D.C.
Work
Durham County Human Services Complex
Durham, North Carolina
Work
Tenley-Friendship Neighborhood Library
Washington, D.C.
Work
Greenville Town Common, Sycamore Hill Gateway Plaza
Work
Destination Crenshaw
Los Angeles, California