Zena Howard

Principal, Managing Director, North Carolina

Observant from the start, Zena’s cultural awareness developed from her experiences growing up in various communities across the country. Her recognition that the built environment significantly impacts the human experience informs her continued exploration of design experiences that nurture positive change.

Early in her architecture career, Zena adopted the view that great design should be accessible to everyone.  More than creating a beautiful space, she leads projects that successfully navigate social issues of equity and justice—honoring history and memory and restoring lost cultural connections.

Relaxation for Zena typically involves a beach or a book, ideally both. She spends time volunteering in her community for cultural, economic development, and urban planning nonprofits including Downtown Durham Inc, where she is a board member and City of Durham Cultural Advisory Board.

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 and 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.