Repositioned. Reimagined. Chicago.

This post was contributed by Jen Levisen, communications director at Mortarr.

The second season of IIDA and AIA Chicago’s Designers + Architects Talk series continued March 10 with a conversation focused on three large-scale, transformative, structural and interior transformations and repositioning projects in Chicago: Willis Tower, Tribune Tower, and the Old Post Office.

The weeks following this event have been transformative in ways that have affected us personally, professionally, and collectively and have sent ripples through the industry. While we understand that projects across the globe may or may not be paused at this time, we hope this enlightening conversation and the innovative reimagining of iconic architectural spaces in Chicago inspires and encourages creativity.

Along with being famous for food, jazz, and world-class museums, Chicago is a city with an incredible architectural history, and the architects and designers leading the charge today play an important role in the reimagining of some of the city’s masterpieces. Projects like the rebirth of the city’s tallest skyscraper, the transformation of a neo-Gothic landmark, and the largest example of adaptive reuse in the country.

From left to right: Zurich Esposito, Meg Prendergast, Todd Heiser, Sheryl Schulze, Lee Golub. Photo by: Christopher Dilts


Moderated by Zurich Esposito, Hon. AIA, executive vice president of AIA Chicago, the panel featured Todd Heiser, IIDA, principal, Gensler; Sheryl Schulze, principal, Gensler; Meg Prendergast, IIDA, principal, The Gettys Group; and Lee Golub, managing principal, Golub & Company.

Willis Tower

Originally designed by SOM and completed around 1974, at 110 stories, the Willis Tower is still the tallest building in Chicago and one of the three tallest in North America. “Once home to only one tenant, it is now home to 15,000 tenants, and thanks to Todd Heiser and team, it is being recreated and reopened by Gensler,” said Esposito.

Heiser, who is also co-managing director of Gensler’s Chicago office, grew up just outside of the city. He said working on a project like Willis Tower—”or Sears Tower as so many of us still call it,”—is a humbling experience and one that, for Gensler, has been a labor of love for the last five years.

As the tower went through a series of additions in the 1980s, a massive, almost impenetrable boundary was created around the base. “Much of our work was opening up the tower and allowing you to access the ground plate,” said Heiser. “We want to make it less of a fortress and create Chicago’s next plaza. This work, along with the updated lobby experience, celebrates the businesses that call the tower home.”

The public lobby repositioning features a food hall, meeting and events space, restaurants, entertainment, a rooftop park, and skylight supported by 75,000-pound beams that offer a view of the south side of the Tower, and still “the fastest elevators in North America.”

Rendering of Willis Tower interior. Photo courtesy of Gensler.


This new space is called Catalog, in honor of the building’s initial tenant, Sears, Roebuck & Co., and serves not only the building’s tenants, but it’s more than 1.7 million annual visitors.

“The new space opens up the building tremendously,” said Heiser, “and helps to position the area as Chicago’s next great neighborhood.”

Heiser’s work is part of a more than $500 million renovation, the most significant restorative transformation in the building’s 46-year history. In late 2019, the tower earned the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design’s (LEED) Platinum designation.

Old Post Office

Designed by the same Chicago architects behind our other favorite buildings— the Wrigley Building and Merchandise Mart—Old Post Office was built in 1921 and, for quite a while, was the largest post office in the world. “By the mid-90s, however, it’s use was replaced, and the building was left vacant and neglected. But as Sheryl (Schulze, principal, Gensler) will tell us, ‘The wait was worth it,’” said Esposito.

An icon that needed life support. The awakening of a sleeping giant. “Or sleeping beauty as we affectionately call her,” said Schulze, “and we are very grateful for our developer, 601W Cos., who is her prince.”

Gensler, whose efforts were led by Schulze and principal Grant Uhlir came to the project officially with 601W Cos., in May of 2016, because of their in-depth knowledge of the building.

“We were involved with several developers over the years who were interested in the redevelopment of the building, and that ultimately led to us being the best fit for 601,” she said.

Set to be completed in 2020, the $800 million-plus redevelopment, and currently the largest example of adaptive reuse in the country, has modernized the massive structure, without sacrificing its historic character.

Old Post Office interior, courtesy of Gensler.


“This building is very unique in nature,” said Schulze. “It’s comprised of three buildings, with 250,000 square foot sweeping floor plates, 18-foot ceilings, and varying floor heights that create several loft-like spaces.”

The office floors also still contain the original spiral mail chutes and other items like vaults and scales that speak to the building’s history.

“We’ve been able to reinvent this building into a class A office with game-changing, robust amenities that activate this building and truly make it a destination,” Schulze said.

Building amenities include a bar with a bocce court, a gym that includes a boxing ring, a 450-seat auditorium, a 4.5-acre rooftop park, and a library, which Schulze added, “was an amenity in the original building as well for postal workers.”

Tribune Tower

“The product of a 1922 worldwide design competition to create the most beautiful building in the world may now become the world’s most beautiful condominium building,” said Esposito.

“There’s no maybe about it,” followed Prendergast, who leads The Gettys Group team overseeing phase one of the reimagined Tribune Tower. Solomon Cordwell Buenz is the architect of record on the project.

Photo by: Christopher Dilts


While the Tribune Tower’s exterior and lobby are landmarked, everything on the inside was gutted to make way for new, high-end spaces. “We’ve learned to love it, embrace it, and then help it move forward,” said Prendergast, whose designs honor the heritage and beauty of the building.

CIM Group and Chicago-based Golub & Company acquired the 35-story, 740,000 square-foot structure in 2016, and is in the process of developing it into 162 luxury condominiums.

“Each unit has a unique floor plan given the variables of the building,” said Golub. For example, the newspaper’s old executive dining room will be a single-family dwelling.

The tower’s amenities will include a spa, fitness center, indoor pool looking over the iconic Chicago Tribune sign, a co-working lounge, meeting rooms, entertainment areas, and an event space featuring a bar and prep kitchen. A terrace on the 25th floor of the crown is framed by the building’s flying buttresses and offers 360-degree views of the city.

“It’s the most amazing thing you’ve ever seen,” said Golub. “If we could bring people to the brown, we’d sell out in one second.”

“This is an iconic and dramatic piece of history,” Prendergast said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

An icon begets an icon.

IIDA and AIA Chicago are committed to keeping our community healthy and safe, and in the interest of public health, and in accordance with state-issued mandates, have postponed the April and May Designers & Architects Talk events.

Tickets purchased for these events will be honored for the rescheduled dates. Ticket holders will have the opportunity to request a refund after the new dates are announced if they are unable to attend. IIDA and AIA Chicago will provide updates as they become available, and information will be posted to IIDA’s Events Calendar.

A special thanks to our 2020 Designers & Architects Talk sponsors:

Host Sponsor: 
Corporate Concepts / Knoll

Champion Sponsors:
Andreu World, Bernhardt Design, BIFMA, Caesarstone, Cosentino, J+J Flooring Group, Maya Romanoff, Mohawk Group, Mortarr, OFS, Patcraft, Shaw Contract, and Tarkett.

Collective (D)esign: The Changing Landscape of Workplace Design

In response to our rapidly changing world, IIDA brings you a design-focused dialogue on the effects of a global crisis. Watch the sixth webinar in the series today. 

What will the workplace of the future look like?

Watch IIDA Executive Vice President and CEO Cheryl S. Durst, Hon FIIDA, and a panel of design experts discuss the changing landscape of workplace design as they examine health and wellness concerns, shifting floorplans and floorplates, collaborative spaces, workplace arrangement, remote working, and shifting culture. This thoughtful group shares their insight in an open dialogue on adaptability and new possibilities for creative expression in the workplace.

This webinar is registered for 1 IDCEC HSW CEU. To learn how to earn your CEU credit, visit IIDA.org for more information.

Watch all the webinars in the series here.

Panelists:

  • Adam Farmerie, Partner, AvroKO, New York
  • James Lee, Director of Design, Hospitality, LEO A DALY, Los Angeles
  • Margaret McMahon, Senior Vice President and Global Director, Wimberly Interiors, New York
  • Meg Prendergast, IIDA, Principal, The Gettys Group, Chicago

The next webinar in the series, Product Design and Manufacturing: Change and Adaptability, will take place on May 7, 2020, 1:30-2:30 p.m. Central. Register today.

COLLECTIVE D(ESIGN): Hospitality Design Navigates Change

In response to our rapidly changing world, IIDA brings you a design-focused dialogue on the effects of a global crisis. Watch the fifth webinar in the series today. 

Leaders in hospitality design whose clients include major global brands and renowned restaurateurs address challenges in overseeing a practice during this time. Join moderator John Czarnecki, Hon. IIDA, deputy director and senior vice president of IIDA, and a panel of design experts based in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, as they discuss the re-emergence of the hospitality industry, design for the human experience, and the future of interiors of hotels, restaurants, and places to gather.

The conversation, while focused on hospitality—the design of hotels, restaurants, and the hospitality industry overall—touched on topics of interest for the entire commercial interior design industry. The designers shared how their firms are supporting their employees, the status of their projects in the U.S. and globally, and how the business of their clients—hoteliers and restaurateurs—are impacted. They also shared expertise on how this moment will influence hospitality interior design in the immediate term and post-pandemic future, reflecting on how lessons from this moment could affect restaurants and hotel communal spaces.

As Czarnecki noted in the session’s opening remarks, “Even if you are not a designer in the hospitality sector, you enjoy going to restaurants, you travel, and you’re certainly interested in the future of the hospitality industry as an important sector of the economy. The designers in this session also offer lessons that can be applicable to the design of other projects as well.”

This webinar is registered for 1 IDCEC HSW CEU. To learn more about earning your CEU credit, visit IIDA.org for more information.

Watch all the webinars in the series here.

Panelists:

  • Adam Farmerie, Partner, AvroKO, New York
  • James Lee, Director of Design, Hospitality, LEO A DALY, Los Angeles
  • Margaret McMahon, Senior Vice President and Global Director, Wimberly Interiors, New York
  • Meg Prendergast, IIDA, Principal, The Gettys Group, Chicago

The next webinar in the series, Episode 6 | The Changing Landscape of Workplace Design will take place on April 30, 2020, 1:30-2:30 p.m. Central. Register today.

COLLECTIVE D(ESIGN): Human Resources, Opportunity and the New Normal

In response to our rapidly changing world, IIDA brings you a design-focused dialogue on the effects of a global crisis. Watch the fourth webinar in the series today. 

As roles within firms rapidly shift and employees transition to working from home for the foreseeable future, how are firms adjusting their policies to this challenging new normal? Join IIDA Executive Vice President and CEO Cheryl S. Durst, Hon. FIIDA, and a panel of industry leaders for a discussion on the pandemic’s short and long-term effects on people and how they work, communicate, and collaborate within the design industry.

This webinar is registered for 1 IDCEC HSW CEU. To learn how to earn your CEU credit, visit IIDA.org for more information.

Watch all the webinars in the series here.

Panelists:

  • Meg Brown, Principal, Chief Talent Officer, Perkins and Will
  • Ronda Green, Director, Workplace Design and Furniture, Sr. Project Manager , Oracle
  • Amy Storek, Ind. IIDA, Chief Revenue Officer, Pivot Interiors
  • Betsy Vohs, Founder and CEO, Studio BV

The next webinar in the series, Hospitality Design Navigates Change will take place on April 23, 2020, 1:30-2:30 p.m. Central. Register today.

Carolyn BaRoss: Healthcare Designers Facing the Challenge of Global Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a profound impact on the world around us, touching all of our lives and heightening awareness of the importance of healthcare and healthcare environments. In this interview, Carolyn BaRoss, IIDA, the New York-based firmwide healthcare interior design director at Perkins and Will, shares her thoughts on how the firm and her healthcare design practice has adjusted, and how they will move forward in a new normal. She offers lessons that can be applicable to all interior designers and architects, not just those focused on healthcare.


IIDA: How have your teams and colleagues adjusted to working remotely and continuing their projects?

Carolyn BaRoss: Within our firm, we have genuine concern for each other’s well-being and safety, and gratitude for the ability to continue to work and create together remotely through our firm’s robust technology infrastructure. Overcommunication and clarity of communication—that is, communicating clearly and often—is a highly effective rule of thumb, particularly when a project is just getting started. But once things get moving, compassion is key: we understand and accept the need for personal flexibility and shifting work schedules, because there are unique challenges for everyone. We know our people are doing their best.

IIDA: How has the firm implemented technology to both continue the work as well as to encourage communication and continued collaboration?

CB: We benefit from a suite of digital project and collaboration management tools that help keep everyone engaged and thriving with some semblance of normalcy. Here in New York, we continue to gather the entire studio for our Monday morning “all hands” meeting, where multiple studio leaders present updates, and we continue to hold project team meetings, just as we always have. More recently, our firm has introduced a series of cross-disciplinary meetings with diverse practice leaders from all over the world during which we share ideas and strategies for our “new normal”—today and in the future. And finally, formerly “analog” culture and community events that help us connect on a personal level have now gone digital, including virtual coffee breaks and tea time, shared movies, group yoga, and design dialogues.

IIDA: Is there an aspect of your firm’s workflow that has not drastically changed in this time?

CB: We’ve always done work in China by virtual collaboration between our Shanghai and New York teams, for example. One project in China, which had been delayed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, is now ramped back up as people return to the workplace there.


“One of the silver linings is that the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed an intrinsic global community interconnectedness. Ultimately, helping and being part of the solution matters most—whether you’re a designer or not.”

– Carolyn BaRoss

IIDA: Your firm has strong research-based approaches and initiatives. How is that informing your approach to the work at this time?

The urgency for factual, evidence-based strategies has led to collaboration between our healthcare interiors team and our firm’s commercial interiors clients and colleagues. This convergence of practices has been positive for a number of reasons, not the least of which is a sharing of our healthcare research and technical knowledge, including designers, and that of clinically trained nursing leadership within our firm. Suddenly, healthcare interior design best practices are human health best practices, relevant for all building types, touching everything from space planning, materiality, and detailing to technology, engineering systems, and operations.

We see this both as an extraordinary opportunity and as a responsibility. We are sharing scientific research and knowledge, but our goal is to ensure that this research and knowledge are used appropriately and intelligently in support of “do-no-harm” protocols. We are somewhat concerned that the fear generated by COVID-19 and community spread will prompt emotional, partially-informed reactions that may actually cause more harm than good over time—for example, the inappropriate use of antibacterial and antimicrobial products.

IIDA: At this moment, many of your healthcare clients in the U.S. are overwhelmed with work that is focused on the immediate crisis. How do you continue the communication process to move design projects forward with them?

CB: We have altered the format and abbreviated communications into smaller pieces so that clinical leadership can review and respond during breaks, while handling the COVID-19 crisis. Instead of stopping project work, we have heard that breaking up their days this way has given them a moment to think optimistically about building a positive future, and it’s been a welcome respite from the present crisis. We already had established a good rapport with the client team, so virtual and truncated communications remain effective for this period.

One change we are seeing on the clients’ side is the way they’re delivering care to their patients. For non-COVID-19 care teams like elective/specialty care services, there’s a slowdown in patient flow. Non-emergency ambulatory clinics are closed, and their caregivers are available via telemedicine portals. Some have furloughed health system employees and or reduced salaries. I have also heard of physicians experiencing a significant reduction in hours.

IIDA: How is Perkins and Will engaged in strategic-response design through the adaptation of existing healthcare facilities or repurposing for surge capacity? 

The firm has several initiatives, each of them driven by how the virus has impacted a given studio’s location, and many of them are really tapping into the creative power of design thinking.

  • Our Seattle studio has been working with Swedish Medical Center to create a digital dashboard that aggregates critical data in real-time from their regional hospital network. The data includes hospital space usage, bed availability, health statistics from national databases, availability of medical gases, and the sanitization of space and equipment. It is necessary for making smart, split-second decisions. Rather than waiting for drawings to be printed up and presented, a real-time digital dashboard presents the data in a cohesive, visually compelling, easy-to-interpret way. This groundbreaking work is currently being beta-tested with the client, and our firm’s IT team is heavily involved. Our Seattle team has also been working with Swedish on quick-response and temporary efforts to accommodate an influx of patients including building out temporary new spaces to accommodate additional beds.
  • In New York, we have been working with the Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA) Surge Capacity Task Force. In March, New York State called for the creation of nearly 140,000 additional acute care and intensive care unit beds within 14 to 21 days. We’ve been helping to rapidly assess unused hospital-owned spaces, long-term care facilities, and alternative care sites, like hotels and commercial real estate, to increase hospital bed capacity by between 50 and 100 percent. We are also involved in a similar task force in New England.
  • In the Chicago area, our COVID-19 work includes converting existing buildings into alternative care facilities. One project will reactivate a former acute-care hospital to treat COVID-19 patients, and another will transform a former medical office building into a dedicated COVID-19 care facility.
  • In San Francisco, we assessed the viability of converting a hotel into a COVID-19 care facility.
  • Our Copenhagen, Boston, Miami, Chicago, and Dallas studios—among others—are designing and creating no-cost personal protective equipment (PPE) for our healthcare clients.

“Suddenly, healthcare interior design best practices are human health best practices, relevant for all building types, touching everything from space planning, materiality, and detailing to technology, engineering systems, and operations.”

– Carolyn BaRoss

IIDA: How has your firm’s best practices positioned your healthcare team for the important design work that they do, now and post-COVID-19?

We think holistically about resilience in our health facilities and design proactively for health and well-being while avoiding damage to the environment, public health and health policy, and the health of our communities. We aim to design effectively for circumstances like pandemics involving all kinds of illnesses, severe weather events, and acts of violence. As part of this, considerations for healthcare interiors include the following, some of which are already best practice:

  • Surge capacity flexibility and adaptability of current and new healthcare and non-healthcare facilities that are proximate to hospitals where staffing and logistical support can be made available.
  • Cleanability and ability to disinfect, including the use of UV lighting, easily-wipeable surfaces, and materials and detailing made to withstand rigorous cleaning protocols like vaporization.
  • Hands-free, touchless technologies and design solutions.
  • Understanding the causes of, and means of transmission of different illnesses, and the need to respond appropriately.
  • Balancing the natural environment within our built environment, and enabling our microbiome to help combat germs without inadvertently creating or worsening a problem.
  • Designing and allowing for caregiver respite and well-being: the stressors currently placed on our caregivers, and the dangers they face, urgently require intervention.
  • Configuration and airflow of arrival spaces in healthcare for prevention, screening, and triage in order to isolate and prevent germ transmission into other areas.
  • Storage capacity and emergency storage in preparation for disruptions in the supply chain.

IIDA: Taking this moment of crisis into consideration, what does the future for healthcare design hold once we are able to return to a feeling of normalcy?

CB: We have to strongly consider what this new, post-pandemic world will look like; how the economic fallout will impact the future of healthcare facilities; what the medical side effects for survivors will be; and what the future holds for affordable and accessible patient care.

One of the starkest lessons and opportunities that COVID-19 brings to light is that public health crises can systematically disadvantage essential workers, first responders, those with pre-existing conditions, and the economically disadvantaged in crowded living situations. The question is, how will we apply that lesson to enable adequate and equitable community prevention, testing, telemedicine, and care in the future? We’re all in this together, and we need to address it together.

IIDA: Do you foresee lessons from healthcare interiors impacting the design of other project types, such as workplace?

CB: Absolutely. One of the most compelling ways our practice has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic is the extent of which non-healthcare (namely: corporate interiors) clients are clamoring for healthcare-specific infection control strategies to ameliorate spaces ensuring building occupant safety. We are also applying healthcare infection control best-practices in other built environments. This is a very good thing, if the design solutions are effective, researched, and supported by scientific data.

IIDA: Reflecting on this moment in time and your experience in recent weeks, what is your big-picture perspective on how we can move forward, together?

CB: One of the silver linings is that the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed an intrinsic global community interconnectedness. Ultimately, helping and being part of the solution matters most—whether you’re a designer or not—from making masks to staying home, or caring for others. Truth is essential. For those of us who happen to specialize in designing interior healthcare environments, we know how valuable our technical knowledge and research is to people and markets outside our own, and we recognize how urgent unity is. Right now, competitors are working together rather than in opposition, researchers are investigating how we can do better as a global society,  And civic-mindedness has taken center stage above all else. Does this represent a turning point, a permanent shift toward collaboratively protecting our environment and public health? I hope so. It takes something like this to snap us out of our complacency and to remind us that the problem isn’t abstract anymore, or just a future model that may or may not happen. By working together, we can accomplish so much more.

In response to our rapidly changing world, IIDA brings you a design-focused dialogue on the effects of a global crisis. Join us for this important community discussion. Collective D(esign) Episode Five | Hospitality Design in a New Normal takes place on April 24, learn more about the series here.

Women Lead Design: Gina Berndt, Tara Headley, Nila Leiserowitz

In this ongoing series, IIDA features women leading the design industry in a time of unprecedented change. Hear what they have to say on the importance of diversity in design, mentorship, inspiration, and the future of the profession. 

In case you are still monitoring the passage of time, March was Women’s History Month. Though many celebrations, big and small, were overshadowed by the turmoil of a global pandemic, we are reminded that even in the most uncertain times, creating space to honor and celebrate others remains just as important. The significance of design during this unprecedented moment cannot be overstated; it endows us with much-needed clarity, beauty, accessibility, and problem-solving that are necessary for a rapidly changing world. The women who are making design happen at at varying stages in their careers, are leaders of a better tomorrow, and so we extend this focus beyond March. 

IIDA (virtually) connected with Gina Berndt, FIIDA, ASID, principal and managing director at Perkins and Will; Tara Headley, Assoc. IIDA, intermediate designer at Hendrick; and Nila Leiserowitz, FIIDA, FASID, business consultant and former regional managing principal at Gensler, to discuss the urgency of this current moment, what’s next for design, and how a diversity of design thought is more crucial than ever.

Gina Berndt, FIIDA, ASID, Principal and Managing Director, Perkins and Will, Chicago

IIDA: Who has been an important mentor to you over the course of your career and how/why?

Gina Berndt: I’ve had many mentors in my career, but if I had to name one it would be my father. Though he died when I was just 24, I learned a great deal from observing him in his work and life. He was generous and related well to humanity in the broadest sense. I am very grateful for his influence on me.

IIDA: Have you had the opportunity to mentor others? Has that been rewarding and how?

GB: I hope I have been a mentor to others. It is most rewarding to see individuals blossom in their careers as leaders, whether at Perkins and Will or at other firms. I am proud of their inherent talent, but also their compassion, business acumen, engagement in the community, and success. I dream of having a lovely dinner with all of them to express my gratitude one day.

IIDA: What do you see as the role of women in design in light of our current crisis?

GB: Women often lead with honesty, patience, empathy, and compassion. These are always valuable attributes, but this crisis demands that we all lead with these gifts.  

IIDA: What or who inspires you?

GB: Many things, but at my core, my family. I am inspired to be a role model for my daughter, nieces and nephews, a good life partner to my husband, and a trusted friend to my sisters. I am also inspired by beauty overall which is why I have always been drawn to design.

Tara Headley, Assoc. IIDA, Intermediate Designer, Hendrick, Atlanta

IIDA: Have you mentored others? Has that been rewarding and how?

Tara Headley: I have always viewed mentorship as a vital part of our industry. I believe there is true value in helping the next generation of designers overcome challenges by offering insight from the perspective of someone who has faced similar situations. I have been able to be a mentor through my position on the IIDA Georgia Chapter Board as a campus center leader, and I am hoping to step into the Vice President of Student Affairs role in the near future.

In addition, this academic year I have the privilege of being the alumni mentor for the SCAD Atlanta interior design department. Visting the campus, sitting in on classes, giving feedback on presentations and theses, and now shifting to virtual lectures—those interactions with students have been extremely rewarding. Several students have since reached out for one on one career advice and I’m humbled to be seen as a valued mentor. Knowing that the path I’ve taken inspires others is motivation for me to continue giving back.

IIDA: What or who inspires you?

TH: I am inspired by women of color in leadership positions. They are the ones that have blazed a trail to success and set the example for design professionals like myself to follow. Knowing the obstacles they have had to overcome to make it to a position of power inspires me to fight to achieve that as well. Seeing them makes me believe in myself even more.

Nila Leiserowitz, FIIDA, FASID, Business Consultant and Former Regional Managing Principal, Gensler, North Central

IIDA: Who have you considered to be your mentor and how have they influenced you?

Nila Leiserowitz: I am a strong believer that mentorship is vital to a career in design. A mentor can remain the same throughout your career or you may have different mentors at different points in your life. If I had to identify an important mentor throughout my career, it would be women leaders at all levels—my peers, bright emerging women, and women in other industries that are risk-takers. Right now, my most important mentors are women from the International Women’s Forum.

IIDA: What do you think is the role of women in today’s crisis?

NL: Women have an innate quality to see minutia and at the same time understand big strategies or moves that need to be made. We know how to pull the problem apart and look at all the components of the problem in order to have a thoughtful approach to moving forward. Looking at all the parts, we can celebrate the good within the problem, which is very important right now. We then also have a clearer picture of the core issues that need to be solved. We can then define a strategy and team to accomplish the right results. I am always so amazed by how women think. We are blessed!

IIDA: Who or what inspires your practice?

NL: his is not a simple question to answer. I do try to live in the moment as much as I can, so inspiration shows up in my life in unexpected ways at different times. Sometimes, small and simple things inspire me; other times, inspiration can be as big as being on top of a mountain and seeing the world like so few people see it. If I had to narrow down to two overarching inspirations, it would be people and nature. In the best situation for me, it is when nature and people collide. That is an amazing thing.