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 and 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.