with PEople


Heather Jauregui

Washington, DC, Studio

Director of sustainability and an associate principal, Heather Jauregui uses her expertise in passive design, building science, indoor environmental quality, and pre- and post-occupancy evaluations to inform projects across practice areas.

Photograph © Perkins Eastman
Top Heather Jauregui (third from right) attended the 2022 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in San Francisco, CA.

Center Jauregui worked on the Occoquan Elementary School (left) net zero energy learning environment in Woodbridge, VA. Jauregui, her husband, and their daughters (right) visit family in North Carolina. Occoquan Rendering © Perkins Eastman

Bottom Jauregui collects water while volunteering in Masealama, a rural community in Limpopo, South Africa. All Photography Courtesy Heather Jauregui
What inspired your passion for sustainable design?

My dad says I was always this way. He remembers the time I gave him a cup while he was shaving and told him to fill it with water rather than leave the faucet running. Truthfully, it was after I had completed my undergrad degree, when I was volunteering in South Africa—in a rural village without running water—that my interest became clear. I’d go to the pump to collect water for the week, and nerd that I am, I tracked how much water I used and compared it to the average American’s usage. I used 96 percent less water per month (and 37 percent of it was recycled for different uses). Carrying the water I needed and tracking my usage made me more intentional. I went into sustainable design to address how the systems guiding our lives, often without our knowledge or consent, can be improved.

You serve as an internal sustainability consultant on key projects. Which designs have raised the bar most profoundly?

Each project presents different and unique challenges and can have a profound impact, but John Lewis Elementary School and Benjamin Banneker Academic High School have truly transformed our practice. Not because they’re our first projects targeting net zero energy, but because of the highly integrated design process we followed: our goals were set from day one, and sustainability was deeply embedded in them. We came out of the school projects better informed and able to apply lessons learned to new work. This process—thanks to the leadership of Sean O’Donnell, K-12 Education practice head—has allowed us to blossom into a practice where good design is sustainable design and everyone is working toward the same goals.

The firm is a signatory to the AIA 2030 Commitment. With the deadline approaching, what are we doing to reach this goal?

Last year, our designed work met a 49.8 percent predicted energy reduction from the baseline established in the US Energy Information Administration’s Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey. While that number is above the industry average (48 percent), it’s well behind the 2030 Commitment’s carbon-neutrality targets. Small, progressive steps are no longer enough. In 2020, we drafted a 10‑year plan to meet 2030 goals, and we highlighted the need to ramp up energy modeling. By 2025, we aim to conduct energy modeling on 100 percent of our projects; that data will inform our work and allow us to take steps toward more drastic energy improvements.

How do you spend your time outside of work?

With a two-year-old and a five-year-old, I’m often just trying to keep everyone clean, happy, and healthy. (OK, clean is relative; see water consumption anecdotes above.) Things I love, in addition to spending time with my family, are running, my daily bike commute, playing soccer, cooking, baking, camping, and musicals.

How can folks integrate sustainability into their lives?

Sustainability is not about sacrifice. You cannot do it all, so don’t be scared into doing nothing. Each month, pick one thing in your life you can make more sustainable. Start easy—bar shampoo and soap over products in plastic containers, for example—and never stop questioning or looking for opportunities to make an impact.


Jarvis Cook

New York City Studio

Jarvis Cook brings his expertise in human resources, leadership strategy, and employee engagement and retention to his role as a talent acquisition manager and senior associate.

Photograph © Perkins Eastman
You have worked in human resources for two decades. What drew you to this work?

I have always been fascinated by the intersection of business and psychology. Understanding what motivates people, how they work best, and how to resolve conflicts is deeply interesting. Over the past two decades, I have found that HR allows me to work closely with employees while also strategizing the larger needs of the firm. It is this balance of individual interaction and big-picture thinking that has kept me engaged in and passionate about my work.

You play a key role in the firm’s participation in the National Organization of Minority Architects’ Historically Black Colleges and Universities Professional Development Program. What does the program mean to you?

The program holds a special place in my heart. Personally, it represents a commitment to diversity and inclusion—values I hold dear. Professionally, it signifies our firm’s dedication to nurturing the next generation of architects from diverse backgrounds. Being part of this program allows me to contribute to a more inclusive future in architecture, which is incredibly rewarding. The opportunity to mentor, recruit, and network with the program’s talented architecture students is not just a responsibility, but a privilege I cherish.

What is the top quality you look for when interviewing potential candidates?

Adaptability. In today’s fast-paced work environment, things change quickly, and new challenges arise often. It is crucial to have team members who can adapt to new situations, learn quickly, and find solutions to problems they have never encountered before. However, the qualities I look for depend on the specific role. Some roles may require more technical skills, such as software expertise or data analysis, and some may require more interpersonal skills, such as people skills, conflict resolution, or leadership ability. Other roles may also require more creativity, innovation, flexibility, or adaptability, depending on the nature of the work.

What is your philosophy when it comes to keeping employees engaged in the context of a competitive hiring market?

It comes down to three key principles: recognition, development, and work-life balance. Employees need to feel appreciated, and regular recognition, whether it’s a simple thank you or a more formal reward, is an effective way to boost morale. Providing opportunities for professional growth, such as acquiring new skills, is crucial as well. And fostering a culture that encourages taking time off to rest and recharge, while also providing flexible work hours and remote work options, is fundamental to the firm’s success.

In your free time, what activities do you enjoy?

I find joy in a variety of activities. My rescue cat, Lola, is three-and-a-half years old and has so much personality. I love reading novels and biographies; they allow me to learn about different periods and people, which I find fascinating. I also enjoy singing in my church choir; it is a form of emotional release that is very therapeutic. Additionally, I am an avid cruise traveler. It is an incredibly rewarding experience that allows me to visit multiple destinations in a single trip and wake up in a new city or country every day, exploring diverse cultures, cuisines, and landscapes.

Top Jarvis Cook and Emily Pierson-Brown, Perkins Eastman’s people culture manager, promote the firm at the 2022 National Organization of Minority Architects Conference in Nashville, TN. Photograph Courtesy Jarvis Cook

Center Cook and friends on a holiday cruise to Belize. Photograph Courtesy Jarvis Cook

Bottom Cook speaks with architecture and design students at Blueprint for Success, a student networking event held in New York City last September. Photograph © Jeffrey Siegel | The Mad Photographer


Jason Abbey

Washington, DC, Studio

Jason Abbey, a co-managing principal with 25 years of design experience, works on sustainable, large-scale projects in urban settings.
Photograph © Perkins Eastman
Top Jason Abbey, age three, chases the ducks at Villa Valmarana ai Nani while on a family trip in Vicenza, Italy. Photograph Courtesy Jason Abbey

Center Abbey gives a tour of The Wharf from the District Pier. Photograph Courtesy Jason Abbey

Bottom The second phase of The Wharf, including extensive public space, opened in October 2022. Photograph by Andrew Rugge | © Perkins Eastman

What first sparked your interest in architecture?

My parents were both teachers. Mom still teaches painting, and dad was a professor of architecture at the University of Virginia and, later, dean of the School of Architecture at Syracuse University. Visits to significant buildings have been a part of my life from an early age, even if, as a child, I was more interested in the ducks! The light bulb really came on when I was a ski instructor after completing my undergraduate degree. I realized I was teaching kids to love skiing, rather than how to ski. Turning that recognition inward, I had always been passionate about architecture—I just needed to do it.

In your nearly 10 years at Perkins Eastman, you have focused on large-scale urban projects. What do you find most rewarding about working at the scale of the city?

Large projects demand teams that work well together. I love facilitating team environments that leverage individual talents and build an esprit de corps that can be sustained. Long-term projects of substance demand resilient team members. We buttress each other in every endeavor.

You co-led the DC team for The Wharf, a $3.5-billion, mixeduse waterfront project in Southwest Washington, DC, and regularly give tours of the development. How has the project influenced your thinking about the design of public places?

It’s my great fortune to stand on the shoulders of some of the giants of our firm. Hilary Bertsch, Douglas Campbell, Stan Eckstut, and others, who contributed to the narrative linking The Wharf’s themes and spaces, were wonderful collaborators. As much as we got right with the large areas along the water, what I appreciate most are the more intimate spaces, each with their own characteristics and microclimates. It is the project’s interesting urban nooks that keep people coming back to discover more.

You are the founder of “Techno-ary,” a series of daily learning opportunities and training events held in the DC studio every February. What is the impetus behind this series?

The idea is to create an immersive learning environment that meets our appetite for technical development, leverages the enormous skill sets across our studios, and makes learning fun. Seven years later and under new management (shout out to Ben Scarbro and Liz Dixon!), Techno-ary is still going strong.

You are an avid cyclist and commuted to work nearly 10 miles each way for eight years. How does biking influence your architectural perspective?

Biking is a fantastic way to see the world. It’s fast enough to keep things interesting, and slow enough to easily stop and transition from observer to participant. At 16, I rode my bike from New Jersey to Oregon and received a master class on the geography of our beautiful country. I developed a keen respect for watersheds and topography— hills and valleys matter when you are pedaling all your own gear. Biking has also clarified this: If we have any chance of protecting the natural wonders of our planet, we need to make our cities and transportation networks denser, more inviting, resilient, and beautiful.


Mika Zhou

Shanghai Studio

An associate principal and project manager in the firm’s Shanghai studio, Mika Zhou brings two decades of experience to senior living projects.
Photograph © Perkins Eastman
You play a key role in project management and staff planning in our 33‑person Shanghai studio. What does leadership mean to you?

Leadership means taking care of everyone here and finding the right place on the right project for each person based on their design ability, skills, and career goals. It’s not easy to balance both individual interests and project needs. Sometimes we can prioritize personal interests to help staff members meet their career planning goals. But sometimes we must find a more efficient way to meet a project’s needs due to its budget or schedule.

What inspired you to pursue a career in architecture?

When I was a child, I heard a lot of architecture and engineering stories from my grandfather and uncle who worked at the biggest construction engineering company in Shanghai. I still remember, when I was eight years old, my grandfather taught me how to find a horizontal line on the wall using a rubber hose filled with water. Moments like this helped form my dream to work in the industry.

With 20 years of experience in senior living, wellness, hospitality, and residential projects, how would you describe your approach to this work?

It’s important to design each living environment with a unique personality that respects and maximizes individual needs. When we were entrusted with the design of Kaisa Shenzhen Jinsha Bay Senior Living Community, a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) project in a seaside resort area in the south of China, we added a temporary living component for seniors who prefer a seasonal stay. We also opened the clinic and one of the restaurants to nonresidents to improve the community’s interaction with the region.

What are the latest trends in senior living design in China?

The senior living market in China is still in the start-up stage. Real estate developers and insurance companies drive the market. Active adult communities are the most popular projects among real estate developers, and insurance companies prefer to develop CCRC projects as rental properties. Due to overdevelopment in recent years, more and more hotels, offices, and service apartments are being converted into senior housing. And some high-end developers are seeking differentiated products, which may make models like the Green House Project and dementia villages more acceptable in the marketplace.

Where do you find inspiration in Shanghai?

Shanghai is the most modern and open city in China. It has a long history of blending Eastern and Western cultures with its own distinct characteristics. Many excellent art exhibitions, international commercial activities, and sports events happen every day—and they bring fresh ideas. I really enjoy living here.

Top A street-level rendering of Kaisa Shenzhen Jinsha Bay Senior Living Community, a continuing care retirement community on the southern coast of China, reflects how each project is customized for its users. Rendering © Perkins Eastman

Center Mika Zhou (second from right) and her colleagues (left to right) Susan Zhou, Grace Zhang, Tina Wang, and Alex Chen, appreciate the sunshine during a lunchtime walk in honor of Earth Day in 2023. Photograph © Simone Sun

Bottom Zhou contributed to the design of Taikang Wuhan Chuyuan Senior Living Community in Wuhan, China, a low-density complex set within the landscape of its lakeside site. Photograph © Aaron&Rex


Ramu Ramachandran

Chicago Studio

Ramu Ramachandran, a principal with more than 25 years of experience across multiple practice areas, pursues each
project with a deep respect for the craft and transformative nature of architecture.
Photograph © Perkins Eastman
Top Ramu Ramachandran’s ACE Mentor Program students from Chicago celebrate their first-place win at last year’s awards ceremony in Washington, DC. Photograph Courtesy Baine Rydin | © Perkins Eastman

Center Ramachandran and his family enjoy exploring the natural landscape of New York’s Hudson Valley. Photograph Courtesy Ramu Ramachandran

Bottom The master plan for Harper College in Palatine, IL, reconnects the campus to its regional landscape and focuses on outdoor spaces to support learning and informal gathering. Rendering © Perkins Eastman

You are one of the 2023 Crain’s Chicago Business Notable Leaders in DE&I. Congratulations! Why does diversifying the firm’s leadership pipeline hold such importance for you?

As the firm grows, we are making profound changes that reflect who we are and who we wish to serve. Beyond our built work, the very structure of our leadership speaks to our values. Architects are problem solvers; we love challenges. Diversity in our staff and leadership influences our work in deep ways. It informs what we wish to solve and how we go about approaching solutions. Attracting, retaining, and inspiring the next generation is impossible without diversity in our leadership pipeline.

You are a longtime champion of Perkins Eastman’s mentorship program. What is the most gratifying aspect of being a mentor?

A good mentoring program acknowledges that everyone is different. It also recognizes that our desire for personal growth and career excellence unites us. Our program fills me with a deeper sense of purpose, as it has taught me to look for ways to maximize the development opportunities in each one of us. Success and fulfillment have always been about caring for everyone around me.

What stands out about your experience co-leading Chicago public high school students to first place in the 2023 Construction Industry Round Table National Design and Construction Competition?

The commitment in my fellow leaders was amazing to witness, as was the sense of discovery and awe in the students. I was inspired by how the team scaled impressive heights by working together and keeping shared goals as a guiding compass.

You have led many notable projects in your career. Which ones hold special significance for you?

Two stand out: the master plans for Harper College in Palatine, IL, and the Illinois Veterans’ Home in Quincy, IL. I see our country’s community colleges as holding the dreams alive for vulnerable young learners; these institutions have made higher education affordable and accessible. Working for Harper was inspiring—the 50-year-old college now has its first female president, and the deans, provost, CFO, and president care so much about student success and goals for the greater good. The Illinois Veterans’ Home reimagines a historic campus and provides a framework for the next century of resident and caregiver wellness. Our research shows that smaller residential pods create a greater sense of community. Residents feel like they belong, staff enjoy lasting bonds, and people get to know and care for one another as they would in a neighborhood.

Outside of work, how do you like to spend your time?

When I’m not in the office, I keep myself grounded and centered by walking, reading, singing, and traveling. I think I am a good drummer, too, but no one else seems to agree. N