MKDA Grows Studios in Three Markets
Architecture and Interior Design firm MKDA is growing with the addition of senior professionals across the firm’s New York, Miami and Washington, DC studios, all from global firms including Gensler and Stantec.
Christin Weaver, NCIDQ, IIDA, joined MKDA as a Senior Interior Designer in its New York studio. In her new role, Ms. Weaver will lead the firm’s corporate services, leverage more than 10 years of workplace and commercial building interior design experience to bring clients evidence-based, human-centric design.
“Christin is an excellent addition to our team with a proven track record in workplace and commercial building design from concept development to completion,” said MKDA President Michael Kleinberg. “She is also a strong leader who prioritizes community and client partnership at a level that has been our firm’s hallmark for decades. Her thoughtful, innovative approach will propel us forward and lead to successful client outcomes.”
Ms. Weaver was most recently an Associate Interior Designer with Gensler, where she designed workplace projects ranging from healthcare, financial and law firms, as well as commercial building interiors and repositionings. Notable projects include Thornton Tomasetti, Mount Sinai Health System and Morgan Stanley. Ms. Weaver sat on the Gensler’s Associates Committee and spearheaded the firm’s Annual Wellbeing Week, which included 700 participants and nearly 20 events that covered mental, physical and emotional wellbeing in the workplace.
Ms. Weaver began her career as an intern resource librarian at interior architecture firm The Switzer Group. She was promptly promoted to Interior Designer and partnered with many of the firm’s leading workplace and commercial building clients, even helping to lead the design team of The Switzer Group’s own New York Office when it relocated in 2010.
Ms. Weaver was a 10-year member of IIDA’s Pioneering Design committee—an annual lecture series with industry pioneers—and is now a co-chair of IIDA’s Volunteer Coordination committee. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design from New York School of Interior Design.
“Partnering with diverse clients and organizational groups has afforded me the opportunity to foster successful client relationships led with an emphasis on professionalism and teamwork,” said Ms. Weaver. “I’m looking forward to bringing my deep experience, strong design solutions and a fresh perspective to a time-honored design firm such as MKDA. Together, we will reach new heights.”
Atilla Kara and Tzu-Ching Lai joined the Washington, DC design studio of MKDA as Technical Director and Project Architect respectively. The strategic additions come on the heels of the studio’s one-year anniversary and are anticipated to bolster the studio’s respected workplace and commercial office building interior design services while also helping to grow the studio’s services, capabilities and reach.
“Atilla and Tzu-Ching are fiercely talented and are a welcome addition to our strong, integrated team. As a culturally diverse and cohesive team with over 27 collective years of local market experience and former work collaborations, we share a unified vision to offer human-centered design solutions with European influences,” said MKDA Executive Managing Director Kristin Aldan Guðmundsdóttir. “As we move ahead together, we look forward to continuing to offer clients our unique design process and a stand out level of service that is the legacy of our New York City Headquarters.”
As Technical Director, Mr. Kara manages the day-to-day technical operations for the design studio. He oversees the standardization and implementation of REVIT/BIM; monitors code compliance and quality control of construction documents; and oversees complex assignments as project manager and project architect, ensuring project success from concept to completion.
Mr. Kara was most recently a Senior Technical Designer at Stantec, where he reviewed projects for quality assurance and code compliance. The majority of his professional career was as an architectural designer at Gensler, where for nearly 16 years he applied his expertise to base building and interior design projects. His broad experience includes federal, commercial, educational, sports and mixed-use facilities. Notable projects include the Saint James Sport Complex, Georgetown Day School and Marriott International’s Headquarters.
During his tenure at Gensler, Mr, Kara earned three “Star Awards” and two “Star Margo Awards” for design excellence on the Digital Domain and Royal Caribbean Cruise Line projects. For his outstanding work on Marymount University’s Ballston Center, he earned an Award of Excellence from the Northern Virginia Chapter of NAIOP and an Award of Merit from Northern Virginia Chapter of AIA. He holds a Bachelor of Architecture from University of Kansas.
“I’m thrilled to join this entrepreneurial and talented team and look forward to adding a unique perspective honed over many years in the industry,” said Mr. Kara. “In my new role, I intend to add great value to our client projects, and also to aid in the growth of the DC studio to match our New York studio in size and our Miami studio in breadth of service, including base building, adaptive reuse, and more.”
As Project Architect, Ms. Lai oversees the full scope of projects from pre-design through construction, occupancy and beyond. Ms. Lai blends her unique experience as an architect, designer and visual artist to ensure full creative and technical efficacy on a broad range of workplace and commercial office building interior design projects.
Ms. Lai has held positions at several DC-area architecture and interior design firms, most recently as a Project Architect at Gensler where she specialized in commercial interiors and base buildings. Her experience includes projects ranging from global law firms to educational institutions to corporate offices. Notable projects include Hogan Lovells, Georgetown Day School and Marriott International’s Headquarters.
Ms. Lai earned a Masters of Architecture with a graphic design certification from the University of Pennsylvania, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies with a minor in Fine Art Sculpture from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. She was a finalist in IAAC Advanced Architecture Contest in Self Fab House: 2nd Advanced Architecture Contest.
Ms. Lai deeply values human-centric design, believing that architects and designers have a unique social responsibility to create built environments that enhance user experience and wellbeing. As such, she strives to fully immerse herself in the client’s vision, ensuring their goals are met by being actively involved in the project from start to finish.
“Since I was a child, it has always been my dream to make a positive impact on people through architecture. After reconnecting with former colleagues here and learning about MKDA DC and their human-centered design philosophy, I jumped at the opportunity to join the firm,” said Ms. Lai. “I am thrilled to be able to use both my technical knowledge and design skills to help the firm reach its full potential in creating unique, high-performing spaces for its clients.”
Sofia Fernandez joined the MKDA Miami architecture studio as a Project Designer. In her role, Ms. Fernandez will leverage more than 10 years of workplace and retail design experience to bring clients experiential and human-centered design solutions from pre-design through construction, occupancy and beyond.
“Sofia is a natural fit for our talented team. She joins us with a wealth of creative and technical expertise in workplace design, retail and brand experience-making,” said MKDA Executive Managing Director Amanda Hertzler. “Given her strong research-based approach and New York industry experience, she brings both a practical and fresh design perspective to our Miami studio.”
Ms. Fernandez was most recently a Designer with Gensler NYC, where she designed workplace projects ranging from tech, media, financial, law and not-for-profit firms. Notable projects include the CitiBank Headquarters, Disney Media Headquarters, General Electric Marketing Office, Colony Capital Inc. and Latino Justice. Additionally, Ms. Fernandez was “Membership Chairman” for the ToastMasters International Gensler Chapter, assisted in developing Gensler’s Not-For-Profit sector, was involved with her studio’s BIM technology task force, and participated in their S.L.A.M. softball team.
Prior to Gensler, Ms. Fernandez was a Designer at The Jones Group, Inc. and Nine West Group, Inc., where she designed and developed compelling retail concept environments from conception to completion.
Ms. Fernandez has been a professional member of the American Society of Interior Designers, International Interior Design Association and the Retail Design Institute. She graduated Cum Laude from SCAD with several honors and recognitions, including Graduation Ceremony Outstanding Achievement Award, Interior Design Faculty Award, and Inter Club Council Outstanding Service Project of the Year, among others.
“I’m thrilled to be joining this exceptional team in my hometown. Bringing a holistic design philosophy, I aim to improve the human experience through combining fundamental design principles with bold concepts” said Ms. Fernandez. “With this approach, I hope to spark positive change within the Miami community to create a future that promotes equity, resilience and wellbeing for everyone. I cannot wait to collaborate with the other MKDA studios to execute purpose-focused projects and solutions for today’s ever evolving challenges.”
MKDA is a national architecture, interior design and advisory services firm with offices in New York, Stamford, Miami and Washington, DC. The firm, established in New York in 1959, is a corporate interior design studio with an architecture arm in Miami that designs notable hospitality, retail, mixed-use and commercial buildings across South Florida and the Caribbean. MKDA is ranked year-after-year as one of Interior Design magazine’s Top 100 Interior Design Giants and in 2018 was named a Top 10 New York Commercial Interior Design Firm by Commercial Observer. Client brands have included Snapchat, SoundCloud, Guggenheim Partners, Design Within Reach, LearnVest, Cambridge University Press and Taboola, as well as leading building owners Rockrose, Boston Properties, Silverstein Properties, George Comfort & Sons, Vornado Realty Trust, Blackstone and ClearRock Properties. www.mkda.com