We Design: People. Practice. Progress.
I love exploring how architecture, context, and aesthetics can help communicate—and perhaps even further—an identity, a set of values, or a mission…this career feeds my curiosity.
Elizabeth comes from a family of artists, and she knew early on that she wanted to work in a profession based in making and doing. Preferring classes that involved drawing and creating to lectures, an architectural drafting class she took in high school widened her awareness of the world of architecture, engineering, and industrial design.
In 1988, Elizabeth was the first employee at Elkus Manfredi Architects when the company was just a small startup. Today, she has worked on several major projects for globally-known organizations, including Draper’s Cambridge headquarters and the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center in New Jersey.
According to Elizabeth, her career has been guided by her belief in a holistic approach to interior design, considering interior and exterior architecture, as well as the outer urban landscape, in order to design and create “spaces that really work.” After working in both a large architectural design firm and a smaller “boutique” firm, she was considering starting her own firm based on these values. That’s when she received the offer from Elkus Manfredi, and “with a leap of faith and a dose of bravery,” she decided to take it. She became a principal at the firm in 2002, and has continued to design innovative spaces ever since.
Elizabeth at Auburn University.
Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Lowrey
Elizabeth discussing her work at Elkus Manfredi.
Video produced by TEDx Peckham
Elizabeth speaking at the REFA’s Women’s Roundtable Series Breakfast.
Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Lowrey
“I’ve Known Since I Was Six”
“When I was a young girl I’d spend hours sketching fantasy homes and resorts. I also loved going to fabric stores with my grandmother, who was a terrific seamstress. Believe it or not, I’ve known since I was six years old that I wanted to be an architect of interior spaces. I dreamed of creating luxurious hotels and glamorous board rooms around the world. For my senior thesis, I designed a prototypical spa for the traveling female executive within in a five-star urban hotel complex. Now that I do similar things for a living, it’s every bit as thrilling and fulfilling as I imagined.”
Learning Best by Doing
“When I was in school, sitting in a classroom being lectured at was just deadly for me. I learned best by doing and sought out classes that would let me practice, visualize, draw, and create. One class in particular, architectural drafting at R.J. Reynolds High School in North Carolina, stands out. I was one of the only girls in the class. I’d spend hours practicing, actually drawing and drafting. Putting myself in that class opened a whole new world of industrial design, engineering, and architecture.”
Paying It Forward
“I have been blessed with countless opportunities to pursue my passion for design. My family [members are] all artists, and they supported my creative pursuits from the beginning. I landed an exciting job at a startup at a critical juncture in my early professional life. But just because I’ve been so fortunate, doesn’t mean I can sit back. I am committed to bringing more stature and respect to the field of interior architecture, and I want to pave the way for more women. Those of us who are established have a responsibility to do that for future designers and the future of our field.”
We Are an Ideas Firm
“I spend my days collaborating with clients and creative teams and helping to manage our diverse design firm. As Director of Interior Architecture, I work on every interior design project that comes through our firm. We design an array of projects from retail concept projects for places like The Grove in Los Angeles; boutique hotels like The Verb in Boston; and innovative workplaces for Citizens Bank, Draper, and the Publicis Groupe. We are an ideas firm dedicated to open innovation across many industries and market segments.”
Transforming Draper’s courtyard into a gleaming atrium, Elizabeth and her team created spaces for staff and visiting scientists and engineers to work and collaborate.
Photo by Robert Benson
We’re in the midst of an incredibly exciting time in the field of design right now, as all the old rules are being rolled back and peeled away. People are more open to collaboration than ever because it’s necessary for our survival. We have to confront our prejudices and threats to our environment and create spaces that make a difference. Where we’d once worked in a world of assumptions we now create in a world of possibilities, and we all have to play a role in the future we want to have.