Welcome to Part 11 of the Firm of Her Own Series, which highlights the career of AMI SIX member Ritu Saheb. This series is dedicated to all of the women in architecture who commit to providing superior services and work diligently to make their mark. You can visit our profiles of Maya Lin, Angela Brady, Zaha Hadid, Beverly Loraine Greene, Anna Puigjaner, Takbir Fatima, AMI members Aparna Patil, Cinda Lester, and Paula Echeverri Montes, AMI Mastermind Alumni Giusi Mastro and Co Govers — wonderful examples of marketing for female architects.
What's special about the time and place where you grew up?
I grew up in Mumbai, India. It is a commercially vibrant city of 18 million and therefore, forever changing and evolving.
What were some of the obstacles or challenges?
India is far behind in promoting its women professionals, especially those that wish to do it outside of male shadows on their own, which is why I decided to move to the U.S.
What was your path in college & architecture school and what led you there?
I walked through buildings in my head as a child. When I grew older and learned that it is called being spatially aware, I became intrigued with the field of architecture. At 16, I decided to become an architect. I started with science/math courses as required in Mumbai at 16, and proceeded to a professional architectural college from there. I graduated with a Bachelor's in Architecture and got licensed as an architect at 24.
Tell me about starting your professional journey and starting your firm — why, to what purpose?
I decided to move to the U.S. at 25 and start from scratch as an architect. After a long journey of getting established professionally and personally, I started my firm in 2015. I had contributed to helping other people realize their designs until that point in time; now I wanted to be recognized for my contributions under my own name.
What is your personal mission?
To live my life well, as per my values, holistically--both personally and professionally.
What are the highlights of your/your firm’s accomplishments?
New York, being an old city needs to constantly reinvent its buildings according to changing uses and evolving culture. Our accomplishments range from simple design fix for a warehouse that later became Amazon Fulfillment Center, to keeping Union Temple relevant in secular times. Union Temple is located at the cultural hub of Brooklyn. It is a vibrant community center (includes a synagogue, two schools, pool, gym, etc.) and is on the National Historic Register for its contribution to the Jewish community.
Is there a ‘feel’ that is common to all your built designs?
Our jobs fall in the realm of redesign and adaptive reuse of existing buildings. Bold use of color is common to them. Coming from a tropical Indian society, I am naturally drawn to colors.
How do you communicate this in your marketing?
My branding materials and social media marketing are consistent. My logo, my colorful headshot, my Instagram/Facebook posts clearly communicate this.
How has being a female architect impacted your professional relationships and your life as a whole?
Since I started my company, I have received more visibility. My confidence and sense of fulfillment has grown as a result. My professional relationships are more engaging, there is more personal investment in it. I don't have a sense of urgency and mistrust in society as my practice grows and I see my ideas come to fruition. I have had to balance being a mother while applying myself harder as a female architect in the very male-dominated design-construction scene of New York.
If we fast forward to age 100, what do you want to known for in your work?
I want to be remembered as an architect that reinvented the great city of New York through creative redesign of its buildings and institutions.
Looking for more architect marketing inspiration?
Listen to Ritu Saheb on the CurryUp Startup Leadership Podcast below.