MKDA Celebrates Women's History Month: Julia Riso Livingston, RA

In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re thrilled to shine a spotlight on the remarkable women driving innovation at MKDA and shaping the architecture and interior design landscape!

Meet Julia Riso Livingston, RA, whose boundless passion for strategic planning, design, and client service imbues each project she oversees as Regional Managing Principal, Northeast, at MKDA. Julia’s leadership has been instrumental in developing MKDA’s Stamford studio, and in establishing a renowned reputation for architectural and interior design services across the Northeast and beyond.

Explore Julia’s insightful perspectives on female leadership and mentorship within the AEC industry:

Who are your female role models or sources of inspiration in the field, and how have they influenced your approach to design and leadership?

My client, Lori LoPinto, from Guggenheim Partners served as a powerful role model for me in the professional realm. Her blend of expertise, directness, and approachability resonates deeply, especially in handling clients and work relationships with a friendly demeanor rather than an intimidating one. Observing her adeptness at navigating complex interactions with grace and knowledge inspired me to emulate her balance of competence and warmth in my own career pursuits.

What challenges have you faced as a woman in a leadership role in the architecture and interior design industry, and how did you overcome them? Additionally, what achievements are you particularly proud of?

As a woman managing an architectural and interior design firm, I’ve encountered challenges related to biases and stereotypes in a traditionally male-dominated industry. However, I overcame these obstacles by consistently delivering exceptional work, building strong professional networks, and confidently asserting my leadership skills. I’m particularly proud of creating a diverse and inclusive work environment within my firm, where creativity flourishes, and innovative ideas thrive, ultimately leading to successful projects and client satisfaction.

How would you describe your leadership style, and how has it evolved over the course of your career?

My leadership style is collaborative and empowering. I believe in fostering open communication and mutual respect among team members, encouraging everyone to contribute their unique perspectives and talents to projects. Over the years, my leadership style has evolved to prioritize mentorship and professional development, empowering my team to grow and excel in their roles. By embracing adaptability and empathy, I strive to create a positive and inclusive work culture where creativity thrives and innovation flourishes.

What advice would you give to young women aspiring to pursue a career in architecture or interior design and eventually reach leadership positions?

To young women aspiring to pursue careers in architecture or interior design and eventually reach leadership positions, I would offer the following advice: Believe in yourself and your abilities, even when faced with challenges or skepticism. Select a workplace that offers a conducive environment for learning through observation, avoiding excessively large organizations where the opportunity to gain insights from colleagues’ work may be limited. Seek out mentors who can provide guidance and support your professional growth. Your unique perspective as a woman can bring invaluable insights to the field.