Better Relationships Through Better Buildings: Evelyn Lee blends design, architecture, and reuse

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By Srdana Pokrajac (PA5)

Published 7.22.14

Shani Barel Photography

Evelyn Lee

Think you need to build more office space? You probably don’t. You just need to call Evelyn Lee (C11/PA1).

Evelyn is a design strategist and development specialist at MK Think, a San Francisco design strategy and architecture firm that focuses on designing and planning for building efficiency and organizational change.

MK Think transforms clients’ office and workplace buildings into more efficient ones, not only in terms of space, but also in terms of more effective human relationships – especially where a lot of silos exist between the different departments.

“The most sustainable building is the one you never have to build,” Evelyn says.

MK Think’s clients seek advice on how to better utilize their buildings. Evelyn’s team can typically increase utilization of a space by 25 percent, often avoiding the cost of building new structures. This redesigning process not only contributes to “greener” operations, but also to more economically sustainable ones.

Evelyn describes her company as “data enabled but human centered,” which means that the approach is both analytical as well as qualitative—and always oriented towards effective organizational change.

Evelyn says she is currently actively using the knowledge and skills that she learned from both the MBA and MPA tracks at PGS. As a design strategist she can use her knowledge of architecture and design, but combine it the business and language and analytical skills from the MBA, as well as the more qualitative collaborative skills from the MPA courses.

Evelyn’s work hasn’t gone unnoticed, and in January 2014, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) recognized her with its Young Architect Award for showing exceptional leadership and significant contributions to the profession.

The award has been a long time coming. Growing up in New Mexico, Evelyn realized she had a passion for architecture in the 4th grade when one of her assignments was to build her “dream house.” Evelyn never stopped pursuing architecture, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in architecture degree from Drury University in 2002 and her Master’s degree in architecture from the Southern California Institute of Architecture in 2003.

Evelyn sees a lot of opportunities in the field and she currently enjoys her job, clients and company. But like a true Presidian, Evelyn has her share of side projects. She is a frequent contributor to online media, and maintains a blog of her own, Eco Lux Life, where she features and reviews products with sustainable and innovative designs.

This article was originally published in Presidian Spring 2014: Theory to Action. Read more from the interactive online magazine here!

Srdana Pokrajac (PA5)

Srdana Pokrajac is a 2015 MPA candidate at Presidio Graduate School. She enjoys long walks through the woods, reading, and meditation. She also appreciates a nice glass of Zinfandel and good conversation.

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