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Design Principal HDR Architecture

  • When did you first realize you wanted to become an architect?
    When I was 10 years old, three key things happened: 1) my family visited Europe and I was enchanted by the footprint buildings left in the history of civilizations. 2) we moved back to Chicago and my mother took me to tour Frank Lloyd Wright, Luis Sullivan and most importantly a geodesic dome by Buckminster Fuller that totally captured my imagination. And 3) my science teachers pulled a classic “Tom Sawyer” trick where any student who got “A’s” on their quizzes was allowed to skip class if they did an extra credit paper on a topic related to what the class was studying – all of my extra credit efforts were architectural design projects.
  • Who has inspired you and/or influenced your career the most?
    My mother. She studied modern jewelry design with Moholy Nagy of the Bauhaus when he came over to Chicago to escape the Nazis. At the time women were not encouraged to go into architecture but my mother became a strong feminist who believed that I could do whatever I decided to do and that architecture’s blend of art, science, psychology and politics was a good blend for her assertively creative daughter. She always supported my ambitions yet was a very tough and thoughtful critic. I can still hear her voice urging me to push designs past the comfort point to a place of aspiration.
  • What are your recommendations for increasing diversity in the workplace and within the design process particularly?
    There is no substitute for women in leadership positions where they can call their partners when there isn’t sufficient outreach to recruit women at all levels within an organization, mentor up and coming talent and continue to open doors at all levels. When women are integrated into leadership, the higher pitch of women’s voices is not treated with less respect – though women leaders are still labeled with the “b” word whereas their male counterparts are seen as having high standards. In particular, design leadership, the most subjective of all roles in our profession, asks that clients and firm leadership trust a women with directing the design of hugely expensive real estate assets – the larger the project the fewer women you are likely to find in the top designer role even if you do find them more and more as great successes in project management.
    We all are more comfortable surrounded by people who look and sound like us – that is why it is essential to use proactive and meaningful affirmative action to change the mix of gender and ethnicity in our profession. The best thing that happened to my career was the impact of affirmative action on my client’s organizations. To put it bluntly, women in leadership aren’t happy when the interview team from the architect arrives and it is 100% older white men. Architecture is changing more slowly than our clients. We need to catch up.
  • As a woman, what are your thoughts on the Los Angeles region as a place to work?
    In general, I think that Los Angeles is a one of the better places for Women in Architecture and Design – more fluid, less hierarchical, more merit focused rather than rigidly status oriented, and more open to women in leadership. But I not a patient person and I am still frustrated by how few of our biggest firms have women principals in key design leadership roles.
Design Principal HDR Architecture

2015 is off to a bright start for Kate Diamond as she steps into her role as a design principal focused on civic, community and science/technology projects in HDR’s Los Angeles office. Kate brings a breadth of experience and talent to the firm through her civic portfolio, with projects that encompass: justice, federal, state and local government, K-12 through university, transportation and infrastructure, community building / commercial, residential and mixed-use, and planning and urban design. With her diverse experience, she will help expand HDR’s civic footprint in the region and grow our service offerings. She will also recruit and maintain top talent, mentor teams and focus on career development within the LA office. Kate brings a lifetime personal commitment to sustainable design within the urban context as a key generator of design excellence.

“I am thrilled to join a team whose diverse skillset, depth of expertise and forward-thinking culture are unmatched in the industry,” shares Kate. “HDR is doing some of the most innovative work in the industry today, from cutting-edge laboratories to big data facilities to their dynamic consulting practice. They do the research to back up their work. “

“We are excited to have Kate at the helm of our design practice in Los Angeles,” shares Todd Tierney, West Region Director of Operations. “Kate’s enthusiasm and leadership bolsters our commitment to elevate design as a key driver in our culture and thinking. She is committed to integrated design that values the best ideas from all team members in the service of delivering projects that exceed clients’ goals,” he adds.

Prior to joining HDR, Kate built a strong design reputation as Principal and Lead Designer of several larger practices including HMC, NBBJ, RNL and her partnership with Margot Siegel , AIA, Siegel Diamond Architecture. Siegel Diamond Architecture and its predecessor partnership Siegel Sklarek Diamond was, at the time, the largest entirely woman owned partnership in the US.

A partial list of Kate’s key projects includes
  • LAX Air Traffic Control Tower
  • Joint USA / Canadian Port of Entry at Sweetgrass, Montana / Coutts, Alberta
  • UC Davis Medical Center Central Plant
  • Universal City Metro Redline Subway Station
  • The US Magistrate Courthouse, Bakersfield CA
  • The District Courthouse, Billings Montana

In 1996, Diamond was elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). From 1993 to 1994, she served as the first Woman President in 99 years of the AIA’s Los Angeles Chapter. She also served as President of the Association for Women in Architecture from 1985 to 1987. She continues to serve on the National Peer Review Council for the GSA Design Excellence Program. In the past, she frequently taught design studios at the University of Southern California, School of Architecture and continues to give guest lectures at various schools of architecture across the country.

Last updated: 23-Feb-2015 12:05 PM
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