Architecture + Design
An award-winning architect, Zena is known for her work on projects including the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC, the Motown Museum Expansion in Detroit, and the International Civil Rights Center and Museum in Greensboro among others. With more than 25 years of experience on culturally-significant, visionary projects, Zena uses the design process to invoke the power of shared cultural experience, creating what she calls “remembrance work.” She has invested much of her career on projects that empower community members to uphold their heritage, particularly displaced people of African descent. Akin to Destination Crenshaw’s mission, she spent decades designing projects that simultaneously stop systematic cultural displacement and create environments that elevate ethnic and multigenerational communities across North America.
As part of the .02% of African American female architects in the United States, Zena is an advocate for diversity within architecture, where minority and women professionals are historically underrepresented. In 2018, Zena became of a part of the 3% of American Institute of Architects (AIA) inducted into the College of Fellows for her contributions to “projects that benefit society as a whole.” She is a founding member of Perkins and Will’s Diversity + Inclusion Council, an associate professor of architecture at North Carolina State University College of Design, a LEED Accredited Professional, and a member of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA). She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in architecture from the University of Virginia and is a member of Delta Sigma Theta, Inc. public service sorority.
Gabrielle, an award-winning architect in Perkins and Will’s Los Angeles office, is regularly sought out around the world for her leadership and expertise in issues of social and racial equity in architecture. Aside from project design, she also oversees Perkins and Will’s Diversity, Inclusion, and Engagement program, which works to support and strengthen a firmwide culture that embraces a diversity of people, colors, creeds, credos, talents, thoughts, and ideas. Her unique role as a principal and the firm’s Director of Global Diversity enables her to combine her passion for architecture and social justice to effect positive change in communities across the country and the architecture profession writ large.
Gabrielle has been a key player in Perkins and Will’s success for nearly three decades. She became the first African-American and first woman to rise to the position of Managing Director of the Los Angeles office. Throughout her career, she focused on building types that require sensitivity to their social context and uniquely complex projects including one of the largest ever for the University of California system. In 2014, she was elected by her peers as a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), and now serves on the AIA’s Equity in Architecture Commission. She is a member of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) and a past board member of the Center for Architecture and Urban Design Los Angeles and the International Interior Design Association. Gabrielle was the second African-American woman in the Rhode Island School of Design’s history to earn an architecture degree. In 2018, she was inducted as the IIDA International Board President.
Drake Dillard, a registered architect in Perkins and Will’s Los Angeles practice, has made significant architectural contributions to Black Los Angeles. He designed the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine & Science in South Los Angeles - the only historically black graduate institution west of the Mississippi and only one of a handful of Los Angeles landmarks designed by a Black architect. He advocates tirelessly for diversity in his profession and mentors people of color pursuing their dreams of becoming architects. Actively involved in numerous community and industry organizations, Drake currently serves on The Crenshaw Design Review Panel, as a Commissioner for LA County, and as Board Chair of the Crenshaw Family YMCA. He is a member and past National President of The National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA), and as Board Director for the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA LA). He earned his Master of Architecture degree from Howard University and his Bachelor of Science degree in architecture from the University of Illinois and is a member of Omega Psi Phi Inc. public service fraternity.
As a Design Principal for the North Carolina Practice, Kenneth is responsible for maintaining the high design standards that Perkins and Will is known for. He worked with Phil Freelon for over a decade on African-American focused projects, including the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta and the Historic Emancipation Park in Houston. He has been honored with numerous design awards for capturing the story of each client and bringing forward architectural expressions that are both meaningful and inspiring. Kenneth serves the architectural community on the Designlife Board of Directors at North Carolina State University’s College of Design, where he has taught as an adjunct professor in architecture and chairs the Leaders Council Committee. Kenneth earned his Bachelor of Environmental Design degree from Texas A&M University’s College of Architecture. He studied design at the University of Cambridge in England and earned his Master of Architecture degree from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design.
Yan Krymsky is the Design Director of the Los Angeles office of Perkins and Will, a downtown Los Angeles studio focused on design as an agent for social activism. The LA Studio regularly partners with local governments and like-minded organizations to propose and develop innovative solutions that increase access to housing and health services for underserved communities. Yan has 20 years of experience designing leading international projects including multi-unit residential, institutional, healthcare and educational facilities. His design ethos emphasizes process and fosters the integration of digital technology to achieve innovation across all design sectors. A Los Angeles native, Yan is a graduate of the University of Southern California, School of Architecture. His work has received numerous honors and recognitions, including several Merit and Honors awards from the American Institute of Architects. He regularly writes on the impact of computation in the process of design and has presented research work at several leading universities. Yan is a passionate supporter of the arts and ensures that design is an integral part of each of the LA studio's social purpose initiatives.
Malcom E. Davis
Malcolm Davis is an award-winning architect and civic leader in Perkins and Will’s North Carolina practice whose cultural and urban design projects are informed by inclusive community participation. Throughout his career, he has worked on some of Charlotte’s most significant landmarks including the University of North Carolina’s Center City Building and the Science Center for Johnson C. Smith University, a private HBCU. He is a leader in leveraging stories and unique cultural perspectives in design to promote reflection, social justice, and community healing. Malcolm is also a volunteer leader in several civic, cultural, and professional associations including serving on the Board of Directors of the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, Executive Board member of the Charlotte chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), Advisory Board member of the Charlotte Branch of Mechanics and Farmer’s Bank (MF Bank), and Board member of the national nonprofit school literacy organization Reading Partners of Charlotte.
Born and raised in Bogota, Colombia, Jorge Mutis brings 10 years of local and international experience in commercial, cultural, athletic, residential, and educational architecture. As LA’s neighborhoods continue to evolve, Jorge is committed to working with local communities to meet the growing need for density, while consistently striving to maintain the cultural fabric and ethnic values of each individual neighborhood. Since the inception of Destination Crenshaw, Jorge has worked with the local community and project team to translate the community's vision into an effective framework for the conceptual design. Jorge is constantly inspired by the cultural richness found in LA’s diverse communities. He firmly believes that architecture has the responsibility to better the world and that every space designed and created has to honor the broader goals of society.
Foad Faizi is a member of Perkins and Will’s North Carolina practice, where he works as an architect and landscape architect. Foad has a passion for architecture and design and is dedicated to ensuring environmental sustainability is an integral part of every project. He is inspired by how effective urban design can positively build strong, livable and vibrant neighborhoods. Foad’s cultural work includes the Motown Museum in Detroit where he helped design 50,000 square feet of space for interactive exhibits, a state-of-the art performance theater, new recording studios, and an improved retail experience. His work on public, corporate and educational projects has been recognized locally and nationally.
In Memory of Phil Freelon
The former design director of Perkins and Will’s North Carolina practice, Phil Freelon, was widely celebrated as one of the most accomplished African-American architects of his generation. He had a hand in designing nearly every major museum or public space dedicated to Black culture in the United States, including the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the National Center for Civil Rights in Atlanta, the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco, the Motown Museum expansion in Detroit, and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson. In addition to using design to celebrate diversity and elevate social equity, Freelon was also a key leader for Perkins and Will’s cultural and civic practice where he sought to bring more voices and perspectives to his majority white and male-dominated industry.
In 2017, Fast Company named him Architect of the Year, honoring his career-long dedication and humanitarian approach to creating architecture for the underrepresented. In 2011, he was appointed by former President Barack Obama to the National Commission of Fine Arts. Freelon was a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (FAIA) and a recipient of the Thomas Jefferson Award for Public Architecture. Phil Freelon passed away on July 10, 2019 and served as Senior Advisor to Destination Crenshaw.