Women’s Day 2019
This International Women’s Day, SWA celebrates the contributions of women at the firm with a spotlight on six of our principals. These talented leaders are part of a cohort that includes 28 percent women principals and 65 percent up-and-coming women associates.
Design Principal, Shanghai
“My practice is a dynamic mix of scale and project types featuring remarkable site characteristics. The goal is to provide harmonious design solutions through a balance of developing spaces for people and protecting nature.”
Shuyi Chang grew up in Taiwan and came to the U.S. for her advanced education. Over 16 years with SWA, she’s been an effective thinker, team member, and project leader on multidisciplinary projects, both locally and internationally. With a strong base in Eastern and Western cultures, as well as social and educational influences, Shuyi offers a diverse way of thinking about and communicating a suitable solution to each particular context. She has collaborated with top clients and professionals and has actively demonstrated herself to add substantial value to clients’ projects. She maintaining existing client relationships and also develops new project opportunities. Shuyi encourages herself to continually provide innovative design and planning ideas that results in a low impact on nature, for the creation of truly exceptional places.
Design Principal, Dallas
“Be persistent and passionate about every project. Large or small, always give your best effort.”
With over 20 years of professional experience and having completed more than 40 resort and hospitality projects across the U.S. and internationally, Leah is passionate about the creation of exceptional places for people to relax and enjoy life. While hospitality design requires making every visible space beautiful and every tangible element unique, Leah uses this same approach in all of her work. Environments for decompression and relaxation are key to human well-being, whether in the workplace, school, park, or medical facility. Leah emphasizes equitable landscapes for all people, regardless of economic status. In 2015, she designed a pro-bono project for the True Worth Homeless Resource Center in Fort Worth, Texas, presenting those in need with a plaza and gathering space equal in design excellence to any for-profit project: all people deserve great spaces.
Controller, Firmwide (Based in Sausalito)
“SWA’s scale – not huge, but also not centered on a single designer or personality, makes the firm feel like family.”
A veteran of SWA with 29 years at the company, Margaret is the head of the firm’s eight-person accounting department. In her role as Controller, she oversees all accounting operations and details, including ensuring that monthly, quarterly, and annual deadlines are met and that policies are followed. Current special projects include oversight of studio moves and remodels, coordinating both with office managers and with contractors to confirm that billing is appropriate for these projects’ schedules and scopes, overseeing accounting software upgrades and transitioning to a more paperless environment.
Design Principal, Sausalito
“Landscape architecture is a complex practice that systematically weaves together urban design, spatial structure, architecture, and place-making with a focus on human scale and quality detailing. In this field, I get to continually experiment and learn.”
Chih-Wei brings a thoughtfulness and curiosity towards the ever-evolving fields of landscape architecture and urban design in an increasingly global world. Her projects have ranged from building locally in California to diverse efforts in the Middle East and Asia—from Stanford University, Palo Alto Medical Foundation, and Beth El Sanctuary in California to the Burj Khalifa in Dubai and projects throughout Taiwan, Japan, China, India and Indonesia. Her interests include figuring out innovative solutions to site-specific issues; close collaboration and teamwork between clients and consultants; studying microclimate control for harsh outdoor environments; learning about local cultures through material studies; creating solutions for water through landscape design; and the systematic usage of vacant lots in urban contexts for the creative integration of natural systems.
Design Principal, San Francisco
“Aesthetics are important, but a design should be more than just decorative; a story needs to be expressed, no matter what scale or style you choose to tell that story.”
Ye has been a landscape architect at SWA since 2002, working on a wide variety of projects of all scales, including Beijing Finance Street and Poly International Plaza. Her additional architectural training yields a unique programmatic approach to landscapes, blending a refined eye for beauty and scale with a scientific approach to effective site problem solving. She pairs intuition with rigorous organization to develop successful strategies for each step of a project. Ye is presently shifting her focus to the regional scale, in order to grapple with the complex intersection between urgent social issues and beautiful design. Within that larger context, she continues to explore the dialogue between inside and outside, equally valuing infrastructural planning and the perfect detail on a bench.
Design Principal, Laguna Beach
“I view design as the ultimate integration of art, science, and people.”
Xiao Zheng has more than 20 years of landscape and architectural experience, giving her a seasoned perspective on design and planning with holistic solutions. Her work includes large-scale city planning, urban design, riverfront park systems, mixed-used centers, civic centers, and residential development. Her efforts take her from planning through construction, giving Xiao a comprehensive understanding from project inception through realization.