TZL 1434 (web)


■ ■ Howard Merrill leads our transit and education projects. He is a consummate technician and is also responsible for ensuring all our technical documents are of exceptional quality. manager who provides team leadership on our most complex projects. She is responsible for implementation of new project accounting methodology and software. ■ ■ Daniel Ortiz leads our municipal projects. ■ ■ Jennifer DaRos is a strong project He is an exceptionally talented architect capable of filling any project need. Daniel also is responsible for firmwide financials. ■ ■ My strengths lie in interiors, planning, and conceptual design. I manage most of the non-profit and interior projects. Daniel and I share office management responsibilities, including staffing, business development, and marketing. We use each other as sounding boards. TZL: What does your growth plan look like for the next five years? How are you working to meet that end? LW: While we see great opportunities to leverage our transit experience in other Texas markets, our business success is not based on revenue or staff numbers. RDLR growth is organic; it is responsive to opportunities to produce quality work, satisfied clients, and maintain a healthy business. TZL: How has COVID-19 permanently impacted your firm’s policy on telecommuting? during one’s tenure and the vision that new ownership will bring. I am very excited about RDLR’s future!” LW: Like everyone else during COVID-19 lockdowns, we adjusted to remote working with new technology. While established teams were able to remain productive, on- boarding new staff was extremely difficult. Design is collaborative. Everyone on our team contributes. Being physically together allows for spontaneous flow and sharing of ideas. We were eager to get back to the office. We have always believed family and health “Transition is a time to celebrate company achievements obtained

come first. (As a mother of four, I understand how difficult it is to juggle family and work responsibilities.) We meet individual requirements and provide opportunities for flexible schedule, remote working, and “bring your kid/pet to work” if need be. The technologies we used during COVID-19 lockdowns are used regularly. TZL: Innovations in technology seem to be at the forefront at RDLR. Tell me about your most recent innovation. What is it? How is it helping with current projects? How is it helping to move the firm into the future? LW: Every project is an opportunity for innovation. While we use the latest BIM and project management technologies, they are mere tools. Innovation stems from our ability to look at projects holistically, considering client needs, and to creatively find opportunities for community enhancements. We look for opportunities to leverage our client’s project to enhance Houston’s built environment. TZL: Have you had a particular mentor who has guided you – in school, in your career, or in general? Who were they and how did they help? LW: I have been very fortunate to have numerous mentors in my career. Pete Winters, FAIA, my boss during my tenure at CRSS, provided me with incredible project opportunities, encouraged me to work with others, and trusted in my ability to deliver. Pete taught me to balance client service, design quality, and business health. As a young project manager, I was intimidated by the scale of my assignments. Out of necessity, I reached out to my team for advice. It was this experience that taught me that design is collaborative and doesn’t rely on any one individual. Design leaders are idea- gatherers and organizers. My experience associated with Rey de la Reza, FAIA, was also very formative. Rey taught me to expand project vision beyond property lines. His designs always considered their impact on the surrounding streetscapes and neighborhoods. TZL: Trust is essential. How do you earn the trust of your clients? LW: Trust is earned by delivering what you promise and by being a trusted advisor. We aim for this daily. TZL: Can you share an example of


Houston, TX






■ ■ Transit and urban


■ ■ Education

■ ■ Civic architecture

■ ■ Non-profit and social


■ ■ Housing

■ ■ Aviation


■ ■ Architecture

See BALANCE , page 8

■ ■ Interior design

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ARCH 28, 2022, ISSUE 1434

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