With over 35 years of design and management experience, Jill Lerner has led the design of numerous award-winning academic and institutional research facilities projects for public and private clients throughout the U.S. As a Principal at Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF), she is responsible for overall direction of her projects from start to finish. Ms. Lerner has served on the Asian University for Women, Cornell University Board of Trustees (2004-2009), the President’s Council of Cornell Women and is past chair of the Cornell’s College of Architecture, Art and Planning Alumni Advisory Council. Ms. Lerner is immediate past-president of the AIA New York chapter where she focused on “global city/global practice” and spoke frequently on women’s leadership. Ms. Lerner is a current member of the BWAF Board of Trustees.
Beginnings – What attracted you to architecture and how did you begin your career? Was there an influential experience or mentor that helped steer you toward this field?
I was interested in math, science and art (and dance) throughout my life. When I was visiting colleges, I found the studio environment inspirational, exciting and creative—students there were truly engaged in their work.
What does “architecture culture” signify to you, and how do you go about contributing to, and/or changing, this culture? What are your hopes and dreams for the future of architecture and the built environment?
Architectural culture is inherently collaborative. It takes many participants to design, develop, and build your vision. Diverse perspectives add to the richness of our projects and the possible solutions. Having a diverse staff is key to our ability to work in many different projects, with different client types, in different cultures globally. Architecture should make everyday living a joy. It should enhance unique environments with ecologically responsible solutions.
Advice for someone interested in entering an architecture-related field?
If you have a passion, go for it. There are many positions for which an education in architecture is a great foundation.
Favorite site, place, building? Why does this particular location speak to you?
Locally speaking—Central Park, the New York skyline—memorable and iconic places that speak to the aspirations of great cities. Of my own work, Baruch College Vertical Campus will always be a special project. It has transformed so clearly the experience of so many and shows the potential of public architecture.
All renderings courtesy of Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates.
– Jill Lerner in the BWAF Dynamic National Archive
– Video of Jill Lerner ’75, B Arch ’76, Cornell University
– Dwell Magazine profile of Jill Lerner
– Leaders Magazine interview with Jill Lerner