July 30, 2019

The Cut Interviews Carisima Koenig

Our Carisima Koenig is featured in the latest edition of The Cut’s In Her Shoes, a Q+A series that profiles women making a difference in the world on their careers, endeavors and fashion.

Photo : Gabriela Herman

As the piece details:

“Architecture is still a male-dominated industry, especially at the very top, but Carisima Koenig is working to change that. Koenig co-leads the New York City education practice, meaning she and her team design new libraries, residence halls, and academic buildings for institutions like New York University and Pratt Institute.

In addition to her work at the firm, for the past 15 years, Carisima has also taught at Pratt in their Graduate Architecture and Urban Design program. In her spare time, she serves as the co-chair of the American Institute of Architects New York Professional Practice Committee and leads her firm’s Women’s Forum.”

Carisima’s full Q+A can be read online. Here are key excerpts:

On her average day: My days start early! I wake up around 4:30 a.m. to work through email and set the day. Then, my son and I leave the house around the same time — he heads to high school and I go to my first meeting. Currently, that means I wind up at either the Pratt Institute or New York University. I walk through buildings under construction, talk about project timelines, goals, and more.

After I’ll head to my office and work with our design teams, help our national higher-education practice, and prepare for new client interviews. In the evening I’ll either be at AIA committee meetings discussing the future of our profession, teaching at Pratt Institute, or attending board meetings for a nonprofit school near where I live in Brooklyn. I may also schedule more informal meet-ups with students to review their progress or portfolio.

On the challenges in architecture: You can make all kinds of plans, but the field is so complex that you have to figure out how to stop trying to control it all and learn to negotiate your way through everything, be it recessions, financing, enrollment downturns, or working with agencies. And there’s also the opportunity gap to consider between women who have recently entered the profession and those who lead the profession (usually not women). I’m an architect, but I’m also categorized as a woman who is an architect. I believe these distinctions are important, and I can exist in both spaces as we work toward increasing equity in the field.

Carisima helps host the AIA NYC’s Women in Architecture group in our midtown office.

On her day-to-day shoes: My day takes me to many places across the city. We have a new residence hall project at Pratt Institute currently under construction, and when I’m there, I need waterproof shoes with toe protection. Walking the site at various stages of construction requires boots that look good even after being exposed to dirt and debris. I have a pair by Carhartt for the early days, and for later stages, I’ll wear Dr. Martens. If I’m in my Manhattan office or teaching, I’ll wear something comfortable, be it heels, sneakers, or flats.

On going out after work: I’m always dressed and ready for whatever pops up on my calendar. My go-to is really anything in black, especially a jacket. My favorites are from Agnes B., Diesel, and Theory. They can make an outfit appropriate for any occasion. I also believe in what I call the “Architect’s Statement Necklace.” I’ve collected a few favorites over time, including pieces from Attombri in Venice and Pandora della Malva in Rome.

On the last three things she bought: I added a Theory black silk shell to my collection of tops. Plus, given the rave reviews, I also bought a pair of white Teva Hurricane sandals — it’s like walking on little clouds! Finally, I got a gray Ruth Bader Ginsburg T-shirt from my favorite T-shirt shop RayGun.