Women In Construction

WIC Profile: Laura Pirie

Laura Pirie, Principal and Founder, Pirie Associates

Laura Pirie

With a vision of how an architecture practice “could be” and no path to follow, Laura Pirie, AIA, LFA, NOMA set out 20 years ago to create a firm where inspiring design, technical excellence, and life balance would coexist to make the world a better place. Corny, but true.

Long before the pandemic-induced demand for life-work balance and contrary to growth-as-the-goal objectives, Laura has led the talented team at Pirie Associates to create sensitive, impactful, and integrated built environments one project at a time. From placemaking and community engagement to landscape, architecture, and interiors, the firm’s multidisciplinary approach brings the right tool to each job. Laura often cites the old saying, “If you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail” to describe the opposite of Pirie Associates’ approach. Why work this way? A client’s built environment is a partner to help them achieve their unique goals, and using the right tools makes all the difference. And here’s a secret: This approach does not cost more money – it just takes a bit more thought.

While practicing this way, a few things became clear:  First, every project deserves a good story. A story that describes why the built environment is designed the way it is connects people to their place, and connection is vital to belonging and health. Second, value management is a decision-making tool based on the arc of impact. If it’s cheaper out of the gate but falls apart or is too expensive to operate, how is that a good value? And last, why and how we make matters. What we make and how we make it impacts the entire living system, and we can use our creativity to regenerate and sustain life instead of draining life.

Over two decades, Pirie Associates has come full circle: The design of our practice for life balance has led to the design of built environments for life balance. Who would have guessed?

Laura advises, “Trust your path, including the unexpected twists and turns – it will lead you where you need to be to make a difference in the world.”