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Zena Howard


Principal, Cultural and Civic, North Carolina

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Zena’s career has been defined by visionary, complex, and culturally significant projects – like Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. and The Durham County Human Services Complex in Durham, North Carolina – that navigate social issues of dignity, equity, and justice in cultural and civic places. She has been recognized as a citizen architect for shaping architecture through Remembrance Design, a design process that responds to inequity and injustice by restoring lost cultural connections and honoring collective memory and history.

Zena recognizes both the shared and individual sense of experience in the built environment – the emotional connection between people and spaces. This guides her role as Global Cultural and Civic Practice Chair and a body of work that unifies communities, strengthening public wellbeing and advancement.

Curiosity and compassion also drive Zena’s approach with teams. She embraces cross-disciplinary collaboration with a broad range of specialists in urban design, art, history, anthropology, and public policy. As a founding member of Perkins&Will’s global Diversity and Inclusion Council and through advocacy and mentoring, she advances diversity within the architecture profession.

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