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Profile: Girl UNinterrupted Project Co-Founders

Zhanina Boyadhieva and Juliet Chun in Dewey Square Park
Image: Zhanina Boyadhieva Assoc. AIA (left) and Juliet Chun Assoc. AIA (right) at the Rose Kennedy Greenway. Photo creidt: Langer Hsu.

Name:
Juliet Chun Assoc. AIA
Zhanina Boyadzhieva Assoc. AIA
Job title and company:
Architectural Designers at Leers Weinzapfel Associates (LWA)
Co-founders of Girl UNinterrupted Project
Degree(s):
JC: M.Arch from Northeastern University, Bachelor of Science from Northeastern University
ZB: M.Arch from Harvard Graduate School of Design, Bachelor of Arts from Mount Holyoke College

Professional interests:
Relationship between cultural contexts and physical spaces, equity, sustainability, visual narratives, marketing.

What are you working on now?
Ironically, both of us are working on projects at Harvard. Juliet is managing a small renovation project for a data science lab in Harvard’s Science Center, and Zhanina is diving deep into submittals for Harvard’s District Energy Facility in Allston, currently under construction. In our spare time (aka early mornings, lunch breaks, and evenings) we are working on our Girl UNinterrupted Project. We are very excited to expand it to several more cities: New York, Washington D.C., Chicago, and Los Angeles. We are lucky we have found amazing collaborators in each city.


Image: Image: Zhanina Boyadhieva Assoc. AIA  and Juliet Chun Assoc. AIA  at AIA WIELD in Washington DC. Photo creidt: Jared Ramsdell.

What inspired you today? 
JC: Lincoln, my 22-month old son, ate octopus for the first time! Seeing him explore new things inspires me to do the same.
ZB: Closing on a new home today! Quite a milestone. 

When you’re working, do you discuss or exchange ideas with your colleagues?
Of course, we are even having a shared profile! Collaboration is the DNA of Leers Weinzapfel Associates and we are big proponents of this.

What are you reading?
JC: ARE study materials. It is definitely not the most exciting or relaxing thing to read!
ZB: Recently finished Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, a gift from a close friend, and about to start Personal History by Katharine Graham. 

Do you sketch by hand or digitally?
The thought process is incredibly different when you sketch by hand vs. digitally. Both are useful and necessary. We usually sketch by hand when brainstorming and move to the computer when testing options. 


Image: Zhanina Boyadhieva Assoc. AIA  and Juliet Chun Assoc. AIA at LWA Design Lunch. Photo creidt: Langer Hsu.

Has your career taken you anywhere you didn’t expect?
JC: On a personal level, yes! I met my husband at LWA—that’s the last thing I thought would happen when I started here as a co-op intern.
ZB: On a TEDx stage sharing my graduate thesis project in front of 2,000 people. It was quite a thrill.

Where is the field of architecture headed?
Hopefully toward more equitable, sustainable, and resilient environments.


Image: Juliet Chun Assoc. AIA and Zhanina Boyadhieva Assoc. AIA with TAG (The Architects Group). Photo creidt: Bruce Buescher.

Can design save the world?
Design is only one ingredient in the recipe. It is a matter of collaboration between various fields—design, politics, economics, sociology etc.—with a common focus on empathy and sustainability that would lead to better future.  

What do you hope to contribute from your work?
We hope to create memorable spaces that bring communities together and promote empathetic, innovative, and sustainable thinking. We also strive to fight for equity inside and outside the design profession. Our Girl UNinterrupted Project’s mission is to bridge the gap between young designers and top leaders by highlighting current issues in the field, bringing equity, transparency, and opening up the discussion.

Who or what deserves credit for your success?
Exceptional families, who have taught us to dream big, work hard, be compassionate to everyone around us and dare to explore the world as much as possible. Amazing friends—activists around the world—all with different talents and curiosities, who have collectively inspired us to keep learning, finding links between diverse subjects and bringing those into our design thinking. Inspirational colleagues, who are mentors and collaborators. And a major shout out to our husbands. Without them, balancing work and family would be impossible. They not only support us, but they hold us accountable to our big dreams and help us achieve them.


Image:  Juliet Chun Assoc. AIA, Tamara Roy AIA, Beth Whittaker AIA, Mia Scharphie, and Zhanina Boyadhieva Assoc. AIA at ABX 2017. Photo creidt: Kosta Filiotis.

Your least favorite college class?
Physics was awful for both of us.

If you could give the you-of-10-years-ago advice, what would it be?
JC: Don’t stress out so much and enjoy life as much as you can.
ZB: Dream big, work hard, follow your intuition and surround yourself with inspirational, empathetic, and collaborative people.​

Your favorite Boston-area structure?
JC: MIT Chapel, of course.
ZB: The courtyard at Isabella Gardner Museum.

Who would you like the BSA to interview next?
More emerging professions from different firms in the area.

If you could sum up your outlook on life in a bumper sticker, what would it say?
Girl UNinterrupted!