Susan Morgan has worked as a project architect, project manager, and designer within a range of building types, leveraging a “listen-first” approach to ask the right questions and develop responsive, integrated design solutions. Having established strong working relationships with institutional clients across the United States, Susan joins BKV Group this month as a Project Manager and Associate Partner in the Minneapolis office to support our Government team and advance our capabilities and experience within education and library environments.
“As a holistic firm, BKV Group offers a distinct opportunity for a deeply integrated practice,” said Susan, “and in my work with public and private institutions, this offers me the ability to deliver a highly coordinated project with invention across disciplines in service of common project goals.” Susan continues, “I value both the collaborative act of design and the quality products that result; and, at BKV Group, I have new opportunities to directly engage the breadth of design and engineering disciplines in-house to create meaningful and impactful projects.”
An academic at heart, Susan holds a Master of Architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from Washington University in Saint Louis, where she received the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts Distinguished Young Alumni Award in 2011. Susan’s work is also informed by her personal passion for learning, which she has nurtured as a current co-chair of the AIA Higher Ed subcommittee for the Committee on Architectural Education, by teaching graduate level architecture courses for 14 years at the Boston Architectural College, and consistently providing presentations and jurying awards for organizations like Learning by Design, IMPACT, and local AIA chapters.
Susan’s career began in Boston working for local firms who collectively provided a foundation for design excellence. Her initial focus was in the K-12, library, and historic preservation realms. She began to undertake a number of influential public projects projects. These include the reskinning of the John P. Holland Elementary School, renovating the 1930s Jeremiah E. Burke High School to provide both a school and a separate public library in one addition, and preliminary planning and design for reuse of the Edgartown Carnegie Library.
Her portfolio expanded to include work within higher education, notably with the ground-up construction of the University of Pennsylvania Law School (Penn Law) which involved diving deep into parametric modeling studies to support daylight control, as well as performing “summer slam” renovations for the Boston University Questrom School of Business to pilot an active classroom concept, which required working hand-in-hand with department heads to integrate the latest technology with flexible collaboration furniture.
Other major endeavors for Susan within higher education included the LEED Gold® Boston University Yawkey Center for Student Services which merged student service offices with over 1,000 seats of dining into one location, becoming a “one-stop shop” for students that bridged a downtown urban core to a historic neighborhood. In addition, this included designing for an unprecedented four-star green restaurant certification (a massive student recruitment win for the university at the time). Susan also managed enabling renovations for the Boston University School of Law to facilitate keeping the entire building open while the design team fully restored the exterior envelope, renovated the school’s library, and expanded classrooms and shared spaces.
Harvard’s First Student Center
Susan’s higher ed expertise soon led her to work on a touchstone project at Harvard University where she and her team, in conjunction with Hopkins Architects, were charged with renovating the Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Campus Center. This involved working within a historic neighborhood district and renovating the lower two floors and the 10th floor to create Harvard’s very first student center. This was Harvard’s moment to extend a hand connecting University affiliates and local neighbors in a way it hadn’t previously.
To create this “quality of place,” the building needed to stay open while internally relocating portions of campus health services to provide shared public space and landscape. An approach to enabling work was established at this land-locked location which made coordination with the contractor on phasing and execution elements critical. The delicate rotation of users within the building was coupled with the goal of integrating landscape, achieved by creating a courtyard within the existing building that houses indigenous Massachusetts plantings and adjacent interior green walls. The resulting project provides students, faculty, staff, and visitors a communal destination – and gives them a reason to stay – while establishing a new front door for the iconic university.
Library Master Plans
Just prior to joining BKV Group, Susan completed a number of library master plans across the country, including a detailed plan for Johnson County (Indiana) which uniquely aligned local manufacturers with the library to better tap into a talent pool ripe for professional development and training. Susan also spearheaded a pre-design study for the Maplewood Public Library in Ramsey County (Minnesota) which asked for a remediation of acoustic issues and the creation of distinct collection areas for select age groups.
Ramsey County Library further engaged Susan and her team to prepare a facilities master plan: establishing recommendations for design, furnishings, and signage with detailed phasing and projected construction costs. Slated for completion in 2020, Susan’s latest project was the Fayetteville Public Library Expansion in Arkansas, which will double the size of the 80,000 SF existing building. Uniquely, the renovation will provide a 700-seat multi-function space for library and community events, a six-station teaching kitchen for Fayetteville Public High School students, and engineered spaces for full audio, video, photography and virtual reality production.
Education Sector Leadership
At BKV Group, Susan will begin to rebuild our Education sector – both within K-12 and higher education – by translating BKV Group’s deep experience in collaboration, learning, and communal spaces into education design. Susan will also support our Government sector – specifically with public library opportunities and projects possessing deep complexities with regards to schedule and budget. As a firm leader, Susan will also be counted on to build relationships with government and education-focused clients and stakeholders, while maintaining her commitment to teaching others, which allows her to remain fresh and passionate about design, broadens her point of view, and overall makes her a more effective and empathetic design professional.
Welcome to BKV Group, Susan!