Contract Magazine - January/February 2018 - 58
Blumenfeld and her
designed many showrooms
for Haworth, including the
furniture company's spaces
in New York in 2013 (above)
and in San Francisco in 2017
(opposite, top). Blumenfeld
is pictured in the Häfele
showroom (opposite, bottom
left) that she and her team
designed in 2017. She led
the design for an update
to the Perkins+Will New York
office (opposite, bottom right)
in 2016 that opened up the
For Haworth, Blumenfeld redesigned the New York showroom
in 2013 and designed six others in the past decade. "We explored
the local culture and particularities of each location, and combined
them with the company's global brand to create something unique
for each," Blumenfeld says.
Bloomberg, a media company with a strong interest in design
excellence and sustainability, hired Blumenfeld and her Perkins+Will
colleagues to design offices in Sydney; Frankfurt, Germany; Mumbai,
India; and Dublin. All of the Bloomberg workplaces attained either LEED
Gold or Platinum certification.
Collaborating with fellow Perkins+Will architects and designers
as well as Michael Fieldman Architects, Blumenfeld designed the New
York City Police Academy (2013) in College Point, Queens, New York.
The 730,000-square-foot LEED Gold facility, which comprises
academic, training, and office functions, was the first ever to achieve
the LEED innovation credit for health through physical activity,
which Blumenfeld helped to develop.
Leading with a sense of purpose
Perkins+Will CEO Phil Harrison, FAIA, says he considers Blumenfeld's
"focus on design ethos-the spirit of the practice" to be one of her most
important contributions to the firm. He commends her experience
in both architecture and interior design that has helped Perkins+Will
transition into a truly multidisciplinary practice. He also credits her
with much of the firm's growth in corporate interiors work and admires
her as, he says, "a holistic thinker" who is dedicated to active design,
health, and wellbeing.
She particularly relishes working with Harrison and other
firm leadership to support women in design leadership roles. "As our
interiors practice grew, we needed to become more diverse and
inclusive. Joan is tough in both standing up for design excellence
and as an advocate for women, making the firm substantially
more diverse," Harrison says.
Blumenfeld has been passionate about mentoring young
talent, who "come out of school with so much energy and fresh ideas,"
she says. Her role is to, as she sees it, "nurture that energy and
give them guardrails so that they stay within the realm of the real
and the possible," helping them grow without becoming, what
she calls, a "Madame No."
Giving back to the profession
With a keen interest in supporting and advancing women in the
architecture profession, Blumenfeld became active with the Beverly
Willis Architecture Foundation (BWAF), which is an organization
focused on changing industry culture in architecture, engineering,
and construction to be more equitable for women. Blumenfeld
was the first board chair of the organization from 2013 to 2017. "Joan
has successfully guided BWAF," founder Beverly Willis, FAIA, says,
"while increasing the impact of the foundation's mission" by spearheading
a number of new programs.
A New Yorker through and through, Blumenfeld says she
"wanted to do something, anything, to help the city heal" after 9/11 in
2001. She joined the urban design committee of New York New Visions,
a coalition of about 20 architecture, planning, and design organizations
working pro bono to establish guidelines for the rebuilding of Lower
Manhattan. The experience opened her eyes to a whole new world.
"I realized I could actually contribute to the public realm in a way that I had
never considered before," she says. It was a revelation on another level
JANUARY | FEBRUARY 2018