CannonDesign Hosts Despina Stratigakos, Author of “Where Are the Women Architects”

  • May 2, 2018
  • Author: Jennifer McQuilkin

Our Diversity + Inclusion Council recently hosted architectural historian Despina Stratigakos to present a lecture based on her book “Where Are the Women Architects?” The event – held in our Buffalo Office and broadcast live throughout the firm – helped raise awareness surrounding the issues women face in the A/E/C profession to promote a thoughtful discourse within our firm moving forward. In addition to attending the lecture, all employees were encouraged to submit questions to Despina, which she responded to during a thought-provoking 30 minute Q+A session moderated by our own Carisima Koenig.

Key takeaways from the lecture and Q+A discussion are outlined below.

It’s no secret that a substantial loss of female representation in the profession has occurred throughout history. Despite the current number of female students enrolled in architecture programs being nearly equivalent to the number of male students, only 17% of architectural professionals in the workforce are female. If this trend continues at this pace, we’ll have to wait until the year 2093 to see a 50/50 gender split of registered architects in the profession.

While these numbers seem disheartening, according to Despina, firms recognize this shortfall and don’t want to lose female talent – which also equates to the loss of creative vision and projects. The idea around what practice will look like in the future is shifting. It is becoming increasingly evident that both men and women – especially younger generations – are pushing for change, recognizing this loss of talent as an issue that affects the industry as a whole.

“It’s not women’s work to fix gender equity issues.”

Despina stressed that a common mistake is expecting individuals or a small group to fix structural problems. If what we expect is a seismic shift in firm culture and the industry as a whole, we need to ensure that a diverse group of voices are heard and those that are pushing for equity are not working in isolation. After all, it shouldn’t just be women working to find a solution – the lack of gender equity is everybody’s problem.

“Think about your process and your structure — come together as a community to define your goals versus asking one small group to define them.”

As far as working to implement change, Despina recommends that you need to begin by knowing where you’re at – for example, take the pulse of the current climate through an anonymous survey – in order to drive conversations about equity. Once you have a baseline and know what your goals are, you can envision where you want to be and begin addressing the policies to get you there. By implementing structural changes within an organization, you’re no longer relying on or asking one individual to fix the problem. It becomes more about bringing an entire community together around a common vision for equity within your firm.

“Just as we recognize diversity among men, we need to recognize the diversity among women as well.”

Photo courtesy of Mattel, Inc.

Despina shared lessons learned from the controversy surrounding the launch of Architect Barbie, and explained how the response challenged her assumptions. One of the biggest takeaways that she shared was the importance of being respectful of the many different voices and perspectives of women in architecture. In addition, while it’s critical to understand the diversity that exists among women when we focus on empowering them in the workplace, it must be done in a way that does not exclude or alienate men from the conversation. For example, issues that were historically seen as “women’s issues” are now being embraced by men as their issues, too. Work/life balance, being more involved with your family, and not always needing to work longs hours – aren’t these things that we all desire?  If we expect to make it everybody’s responsibility to move the needle forward, then the conversations around equity and the initiatives for progress must be inclusive of all voices.

Read more from Despina:

Where Are the Women Architects?

What I Learned from Architect Barbie

Hollywood Architects

Ribbon Cutting Held for Huntington Hospital’s New Emergency Department

  • December 15, 2016
  • Author: Jennifer McQuilkin

Ribbon Cutting

On Tuesday, Northwell Health’s Huntington Hospital held a ribbon cutting ceremony to commemorate the opening of its new emergency department in Huntington, NY. One of 21 community-based hospitals in the Northwell network, Huntington’s new emergency department will significantly increase its treatment capacity and greatly improve the flow of patients, visitors, and staff into and through the unit.

With more than double the space of its existing ED, the new $30 million, 28,000 SF emergency department utilizes the “Super Track” model — filtering the patient volume into two treatment areas, for acute care and lower-acuity care — in order to more effectively manage patient wait times and reduce length of stay. Separate, dedicated spaces are provided for each of three distinct populations, arriving via different circulation paths: walk-in vertical patients, walk-in horizontal patients, and ambulance patients.

“Huntington Hospital is constantly seeking various avenues, including new facilities and technology, to provide the best care possible for our community,” said Gerard Brogan, Jr., MD, executive director of Huntington Hospital. “We look forward to have the capacity and capabilities to better handle all of the patients who seek emergency care at our hospital.”

Huntington Hospital ED Exterior

Huntington Hospital ED Exterior

“Partnering with Huntington Hospital on this project has been a terrific experience,” notes Rich Kahn, healthcare principal at CannonDesign. “For patients, the new ED is going to be a significant improvement to the healthcare experience, and for staff, it’s going to make the important role they play in care less stressful and more efficient.”

The new ED, set to welcome patients on January 3rd, is strategically placed to connect with the existing hospital on the first-floor level, close to the radiology department and lab services, and with many other key program adjacencies that will facilitate future expansion. With a simple profile and form, the ED visually anchors the existing hospital building and creates a new reference point for the campus. In addition to providing a new entrance, it constitutes a link with the original hospital pavilion by flanking the current main entry drop-off. Large corner windows provide natural light and scenic views.



Meet Haley Darst, Architectural Engineer

  • February 26, 2016
  • Author: Jennifer McQuilkin

Haley DarstIn honor of National Engineers Week we are showcasing a few of the people behind the scenes of our world-class engineered solutions. Meet Haley Darst, an architectural engineer from our Boston office and learn why she loves engineering at CannonDesign.

What type of engineer are you?

I am an architectural engineer with a focus in Lighting Design –I have a Bachelor’s of Architectural Engineering (BAE) from Penn State University (2011).

Why did you decide to become an engineer?

I excelled in math and science courses in school, but also had a deep appreciation for architecture and wanted to somehow influence the built environment. Architectural engineering was a great major to pursue, as each option directly impacts architecture itself.

What is the most exciting thing that has happened during your time at CannonDesign?

The integration of lighting design as a specialty design service at CannonDesign has really propelled our group in terms of integrating with all of our offices and getting to know other CannonDesigners across the firm.  It has been a very exciting ride for our team!

Finish this sentence: Without engineers, the world would be ___________________.

Simple, yet complicated.  We would live in a very simple world so to speak, but without engineering it would make life far more complicated compared to what we’re used to. Engineers are all about efficiency, so without engineers, our day to day tasks would either take us much longer to complete, or would inevitably be impossible.

Learn more about our Engineering Services >

Meet Jeremy Clement, Mechanical Engineer

  • February 25, 2016
  • Author: Jennifer McQuilkin

John ClementIn honor of National Engineers Week we are showcasing a few of the people behind the scenes of our world-class engineered solutions. Meet Jeremy Clement, a mechanical engineer from our Buffalo office and learn why he loves being an engineer at CannonDesign.

Why did you decide to become an engineer?

My late grandfather was a mechanical/aerospace engineer that worked for Bell Aerospace and I was always fascinated by his work. I loved to listen to stories about how he solved problems. He had a reputation for solving complex problems with simple solutions. I strive to be as great of an engineer as he was.

What is the most exciting thing that has happened during your time at CannonDesign?

I have been part of the design team for one of the largest hospital systems in Western New York (Kaleida Health). It feels great knowing that I had a hand in designing hospitals that directly help my community, family and friends. I’m also proud to be part of the design of Buffalo General Hospital, Gates Vascular Institute and Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo.

What is one thing you wish more people understood about what it’s like to be an engineer?

To the optimist, the glass is half full. To the pessimist, the glass is half empty. To the engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

How would you describe life at CannonDesign?

There is never a dull day at CannonDesign, each day is filled with new challenges and exciting opportunities to design amazing buildings. Working here has given me the opportunity to see and be part of iconic buildings.

Finish this sentence: Without engineers, the world would be ___________________.


Learn more about our Engineering Services >

Meet Brad Palmisiano, Architectural Engineer

  • February 12, 2016
  • Author: Jennifer McQuilkin

Palmisiano, BradIn honor of National Engineers Week we are showcasing a few of the people behind the scenes of our world-class engineered solutions. Meet Brad Palmisiano, an engineer from our Pittsburgh office and learn why he loves being an engineer at CannonDesign.

What type of engineer are you?

I am an Architectural Engineer, Mechanical Emphasis. Bachelor’s in Architectural Engineering (BAE) from Penn State University, 2002.

Why did you decide to be an engineer?

I love the built environment and I have always liked to see how systems and machines work. I thought this was a good merging of my two main interests and aptitudes.

What is the most exciting project you’ve worked on at CannonDesign?

I am relatively new to CannonDesign, but the completion of the Allegheny General Hospital infrastructure project is the most exciting project I have worked on at my time here. The project consisted of an infrastructure upgrade in an existing occupied hospital and we added extra capacity for future upgrades at the hospital.

What is one thing you wish more people understood about what it’s like to be an engineer?

Every design we make is unique. Often, engineers are designing things that have never been built before, so assumptions are made with the best available information at the time. Sometimes the systems designed by engineers need to be modified, or tweaked throughout the process of construction and commissioning.

How would you describe life at CannonDesign?

My life at CannonDesign is designing creative solutions and solving challenges facing projects and clients in order to achieve the vision of the project team. I also love the collaboration with my colleagues that is inherent in finding a solution that works for everyone.

Finish this sentence: without engineers, the world would be ___________.

A much simpler, but less awesome, place.

Learn more about our Engineering Services >

Keeping Our Eye On the Pritzker Prize

  • January 13, 2016
  • Author: Jennifer McQuilkin

In anticipation of the announcement of this year’s Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate our team in New York City held a good old-fashioned guessing game that sparked conversation, debate and research around the great living architects and speculation on who would receive the profession’s highest honor for 2016. 24 guesses were made, including Steven Holl, David Adjaye, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, David Chipperfield, Jeanne Gang, Moshe Safdie, Baumschlager+Eberle, Kengo Kuma, Bijoy Jain, Bjarke Ingels, Tod Williams & Billie Tsien, Ricardo Bofill, Sou Fujimoto, Peter Eisenman, Francine Houben, Santiago Calatrava, and this year’s recipient, Alejandro Aravena. We extend our congratulations to Mr. Aravena and are grateful for his distinctive contributions to the profession.

Pritzker Wall

Popping the Cork on a Design-Filled 2016

  • January 7, 2016
  • Author: Jennifer McQuilkin

Our New York City team kicked off 2016 by participating in the Design Within Reach Champagne Chair ChallengeTM — an annual competition to create the most original miniature chair design out of materials (except glass) from no more than two champagne bottles, with glue as the only permitted adhesive. CannonDesigners came up with 15 amazing ideas, but an internal vote ruled the landslide winner as #15, the Game of Thrones-inspired “Winter is Coming.” Check out all of our designs below, and cheers to a happy, healthy 2016.


#1 Bourgeois Lounge & Table // #2 Way Back Recline // #3 Heatherwack // #4 Troll Chair // #5 RockingKing


#6 Curvy Chair // #7 French Cafe Chair // #8 Cheer Stoll // #9 Boolean Back // #10 Easy Recliner


#11 Sweetheart Chair // #12 Duval Perch // #13 Rock and Wine // #14 Mohawk Stand // #15 Winter is Coming

Enhancing Brand Across the Campus

  • January 20, 2012
  • Author: Jennifer McQuilkin

At Nova Southeastern University (NSU), our environmental graphics team implemented a cohesive, unified cross-campus system of wayfinding, graphics and interpretive exhibits across NSU’s 300-acre campus. At the University Center – housing a sports arena, a recreation center, a performing arts venue, dining facilities and student services – the team designed a comprehensive wayfinding system, environmental and exhibit design services for an athletics hall of fame, showcasing awards and team championships. Graphics are built on a foundation of bisecting planes, layered surfaces and curved elements that recur throughout the building.