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Perkins&Will Announces Howard as Chair, Gwyn as Managing Director

Zena Howard
Zena Howard
Laura Gwyn
Laura Gwyn
CHARLOTTE, NC — Architecture and design firm Perkins&Will announces two new leadership transitions in the Charlotte and Durham studios, in support of future growth and changing market demands.

“Our firm is nimble and adaptable, evolving with and for our clients and communities. Leadership succession is a natural part of that evolution. It keeps our ideas fresh, our work innovative, and our teams energized,” said Perkins&Will CEO Phil Harrison. “With these very positive changes, we’re poised and ready for an exciting future ahead.”

Zena Howard | Chair, Cultural and Civic Practice
Zena Howard has been appointed Chair of the firm’s global Cultural and Civic practice, a role she helped create after five years as Managing Director of the Charlotte and Durham studios. For more than two decades, Howard’s passion for community engagement, cultural and civic identity, and storytelling at the intersection of art, history, and architecture has made her a leader in the design of culturally significant places like museums, libraries, and civic memorials.

Howard joined Perkins&Will in 2014 as part of the firm’s merger with The Freelon Group, founded by late Architect and former Perkins&Will Design Director Phil Freelon. She served as Senior Project Manager on the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., which opened in 2016, and was promoted to Managing Director of Perkins&Will’s Charlotte and Durham studios in 2017. She is currently playing a key leadership role on North Carolina Freedom Park in Raleigh; Destination Crenshaw in Los Angeles; and the Motown Museum expansion in Detroit.

“The seat of community is our libraries and museums, courthouses, and administrative buildings. These places anchor us and support our everyday life,” she said. “While North Carolina will always be my home and have my heart, my new role allows me to help Perkins&Will respond to escalating global demand for social cohesion through design. Community is the cornerstone of our work.”

Laura Gwyn | Managing Director, Charlotte and Durham
Laura Gwyn has been appointed Managing Director of Perkins&Will’s Charlotte and Durham studios, succeeding Howard in the role. Previously, she spent four years as Operations Director of the two studios. Gwyn has experience as an Architect, a Construction Manager, and an Owner’s Representative. She has played a leading role in projects such as Duke Health Central Bed Tower and Duke Regional Behavioral Health, both in Durham, and Atrium Health Union West Hospital in Stallings.

“When I joined Perkins&Will in 2015, it became clear that this was where I could grow into my dream of running a practice one day,” she said. “Since then I have been part of shaping the vision of the North Carolina practice. Now I am ready and excited to seek new opportunities to lead our industry and our clients forward.

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