Renovation Design Group’s own Architect and co owner, Ann Robinson, AIA was recently awarded the leader of the year award from the WIA.
(From the Wia website ): wiaslc.com
“Women in Architecture SLC (WIA SLC) was organized in 2012. The goal of the organization is gender parity in the professional field of architecture, and seeks to achieve that goal through community, mentorship and advocacy.
Studies show that architecture is a profession that struggles to retain women. Although nationally women graduating with professional degrees in architecture make up nearly 50% of the graduating class, less than 20% go on to get licensed. Women in roles of leadership within a firm are less than 8% nationally. Unfortunately these are national statistics, and the percentages in our local community in Utah are even lower than that.
WIA SLC supports the local community of women architects in a number of different ways, such as holding community events, sponsoring licensing exams for women architectural interns, providing mentoring opportunities and by sponsoring design competitions that benefit the community.”
To the WIA Award Nomination Committee:
I would like to nominate my business partner, Ann Robinson, for the Leader or the Year Award.
After obtaining a Bachelor of Arts, History as well as a Master of Education degree, Ann taught elementary school for several years until deciding to follow her true passion to become an architect. In her late 30’s she returned to the University of Utah to pursue a Master of Architecture degree, graduating in 1990 as one of only four women in a class of 21. She was a single parent of a young daughter at the time.
Upon graduation she began working as an intern for Richardson Design Partnership. She obtained her architectural license in 1993. She worked at Richardson for 13 years, becoming the project architect on several education projects, both renovation & new construction, seeing the projects through from programming to completion. She was one of two females in the architecture department at Richardson and often the only female on the jobsite. An experience that typifies the challenge of those situations was once having an electrician on a new high school jobsite call her “little lady”. Through sheer determination she learned to navigate and hold her own in a man’s world and proudly describes that by the end of each job she had generally earned the respect of the other members of the team by being extra knowledgeable, competent, prepared, and diligent. She also occasionally had to get downright tough!
In 2003 she quit Richardson to start her own firm, Renovation Design Group, with two younger business partners. They started the firm with the vision of providing professional architectural services to the underserved market of homeowners wanting to renovate their homes. Her vast architectural experience was key in developing the business model and adapting the architectural process to the residential remodeling market. Her ongoing wisdom, vision, and stamina, have contributed to the firms continued success. Renovation Design Group is now in its 20th year and has served nearly 1400 clients.
Over the years, Ann has personally met with over 5000 homeowners, educating them on the role and value of hiring an architect. She co-wrote a weekly “Renovation Solutions” column that was published in the Deseret News for 10 years. Those 500+ articles still attract internet activity as a resource to homeowners today. Her projects have been published in Utah Style & Design and Renovation Style magazines and she’s won several regional Chrysalis Awards. That being said, she is more interested in what architecture can do to improve people’s lives than she is in garnering public accolades for her work.
In addition to her work with Renovation Design Group, she has served as the architectural representative on the Judge Memorial Catholic High School Advisory Board since 2013, helping them navigate the long term plan for their Salt Lake City campus.
As her business partner, I am most appreciative of her efforts to personally mentor me. I first met Ann in 1993 when I was 17 years old. I had recently graduated from high school and had been hired on at Richardson as the runner for the summer, but I had dreams of becoming an architect myself. While other (male) architects in the firm questioned my sanity and desire to attend architecture school, Ann quietly and consistently supported me. I most appreciate her practical and “real” advise about how to navigate the challenges that architecture school presented on a day to day basis, from a female perspective. I don’t think I would have made it through without her support.
We started Renovation Design Group a couple of years after I graduated with my Master’s degree, where she has continued to mentor me and others in design, business, and life. There aren’t words to express the gratitude I have for the profound and positive impact she has had on my life. I really would not be where or who I am today without her influence.
I don’t personally know anyone who has done more to positively influence the architectural profession than Ann. From overcoming educational obstacles, to handling herself professionally in challenging circumstances, to dedicating her career & life to educating and positively impacting lives through architecture, to mentoring the next generation of architects, I consider Ann to be a great asset to our profession and well deserving of this recognition.
Annie V. Schwemmer, AIA
Below are pictures from the WIA Partini on 8/26 /2022 where Ann was awarded the leader of the year award.
Renovation Design Group Partners Ann Robinson and Annie Schwemmer 2004 at the Home Show, SLC.
AIA Conference in 2006.
Ann and her grandkids, 2022.