Jayshree Shah’s architectural dreams were lofty when she began her career at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in Chicago. “I started at a big firm that did big international projects, high-rises mostly,” she says. “I thought, ‘This is the important stuff that everyone’s going to see and know.’”
One of the things she focused on was green building design for commercial, hotel, residential, and healthcare developments. Her work on some of the world’s most technically advanced buildings included Trump International Hotel & Tower and the award-winning Broadgate Tower in the business district of London. Broadgate Tower is a 35-story structure with stainless steel cladding on the exterior. The large diagonal struts at the base bridge the tracks to Liverpool Street station and create a pedestrian plaza that's lined by trees and sheltered by a glass canopy.
But her inspiration shifted.
What you’re designing impacts people
“9/11 made an impact for me regarding safety and design, making sure flow went well,” Shah says. “There’s a psychological aspect around how what you’re designing affects people.”
She joined a boutique Chicago firm, bKL Architecture, where she provided design concepts for interior and exterior spaces for multi-use buildings and educational facilities. “Education is my favorite thing to work on because you can relate to it,” she says. “You’re designing for the future.”
That project stuck with her; she lists it as her favorite in her career thus far. But she found herself wondering what would inspire her next.