Lea’s professional background has focused on large-scale, complex educational and commercial facilities. Prior to co-founding CDR Studio Architects, PC, Lea worked for 13 years at PKSB, Architects, in New York City, becoming an associate within five years. In her tenure at PKSB, she was project architect for two New York State University projects, a library addition and renovation at the Fredonia Campus. In 1996, Lea joined forces with Victoria Rospond to create CDR Studio. Her early involvement in the architectural community includes heading up the technical arm of Emerging New York Architects (ENYA), comprised of young architects who actively search out fabricators, designers and artists who create cutting-edge work. Lea was also a recipient of a New York City Chapter AIA Travel Grant, through which she studied early modern classroom design in the United States and Holland. For CDR Studio’s first major commission Lea worked as the partner-in-charge of the Eileen Fisher Store, guiding the project through the complex and tiered process of NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission approval. A unanimous endorsement was awarded by the Commission.
The success of the Eileen Fisher store led to other major commissions for CDR Studio, including multiple projects with the American Museum of Natural History. These projects entailed the design of new learning spaces with user-friendly, durable finishes, integrated with museum objects, while simultaneously adding new infrastructural systems for HVAC, lighting, A/V and acoustical treatments. As lead designer for the Discovery Center at the American Museum of Natural History, Lea coordinated a complex matrix of clients, navigating the internal workings of the museum to create an interactive, inviting and functional space for children and young adults, supporting the museum’s mission of public engagement. Under Lea’s leadership, CDR Studio created a space that could hold up to the rigors of children’s activity yet appeal to all age groups.
Recent projects include two large residential projects, one in upstate New York using sustainable technologies completed this past year and a 9,100 square foot house in the Colorado Mountains. Lea just completed new offices for the non-profit Foundation for Child Development with budget and schedule constraints. She is also working on the new VW/AUDI Manhattan dealership, which is a $60-million rehabilitation of an existing 250,000 square foot, six story building on the west side of Manhattan that will house the new Flagship Audi Dealership.
Lea has been an adjunct professor in the Architecture department at Parsons The New School for Design and has served on juries at Rhode Island School of Design, City College, Pratt and Columbia. As the first LEED AP in the office, Lea led the way for the CDR Studio staff in becoming LEED accredited professionals; 90 percent of the office can now claim the credential of LEED AP.