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Zena Howard      

Managing Director of Perkins + Will, NC ; Senior Project Manager of the National Museum of African American History and Culture

Zena Howard is a Principal and Managing Director of the North Carolina practice of global architecture and design firm Perkins+Will. An award-winning architect, strategist, mentor and team builder, Zena is known for her success leading visionary, complex, and culturally-significant projects.

These achievements include the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. In her role as Senior Project Manager, Zena led a multi-firm and multi-stakeholder team along with an eight-year journey from its underfunded concept phase to final occupancy and celebrated public success.

Other noteworthy projects include The International Civil Rights Center & Museum in Greensboro, NC, the District of Columbia Anacostia and Tenley-Friendship Neighborhood Libraries in Washington, D.C., and urban remembrance projects for Hogan’s Alley in Vancouver, BC, Greenville Town Common in Greenville, NC, and Brooklyn Village in Charlotte, NC.

Through her work with private and public institutions, Zena engages disenfranchised stakeholders, unites disparate parties, and infuses cultural meaning into all her projects. Her leadership embraces cross-disciplinary collaboration as an essential tool for success, integrating a broad range of experience and specialized knowledge such as urban design, public policy, history, economics, and anthropology into the architectural process.

A native of North Carolina, Zena earned her undergraduate degree in architecture from the University of Virginia. She is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, a LEED-Accredited Professional, and a member of the National Organization of Minority Architects.


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America's Humanitarian Architect

Phil Freelon and Zena Howard, managing director of Perkins + Will's North Carolina practice. [Photo: Arturo Olmos for Fast Company] Promoting diversity isn 't ...

Smithsonian National Museum Of African American History ...

Zena Howard, principal of Perkins+Will and senior project manager for NMAAHC. ... of both African American and West African sensibilities,” says Howard.

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