The Spotlight - Karen Stromholm

MWA kicks off the new year by putting another of our terrific team members center stage: meet architect Karen Stromholm. Read on to find out why we – and our clients – adore working with Karen. Hint: baked goods are involved!

So, Karen – we hear you’ve earned a term of endearment at Morgante Wilson. Tell us about that.

It’s true. I’m not really a nickname type of gal, but people in the office have been known to refer to me as the “Section Goddess” because of my prowess when it comes to drawing wall sections.

No doubt a valuable talent at an architecture firm. What else are you known for?

I’m a baker. I love trying different recipes and taste-testing them with friends. Lately I’ve been making bagels from scratch, and might try croissants next. If nothing else, it makes me popular with my coworkers – they’re the ones who usually benefit from my experiments.

How long have you been supplying MWA with homemade goodies?

I’ve been here sixteen years.

Wow! That’s a long time.

It may sound obvious, but you don’t work at the same firm for sixteen years unless you like the people you work with.

True. What else do you like about working at MWA?

The type and scale of the projects, especially residential projects.  My previous work experience was with larger public buildings like churches and libraries, and I find I really enjoy working on a smaller scale.  I also appreciate the breadth and depth of knowledge within the firm.  It’s amazing how Morgante Wilson has grown and developed over the years.  Each person has their own strengths and interests and Fred and Elissa have taken advantage of and nurtured that.  It’s great because if one person doesn’t know the answer to a question, there is undoubtedly someone in the office who does and is willing to share.

What’s your expertise?

I bounce from project to project as needed and focus on the more technical aspects of our work:  reviewing and coordinating drawings, focusing on wall sections, doing structural reviews, zoning, permitting – things like that.

Clearly you’re detailed-oriented. What else do people say about you?

Hopefully they describe me as kind, dependable, and loyal.

Speaking of describing, how would you describe a good client?

The best clients are the ones who trust and respect what we can do for them.  But we also recognize it’s  a two-way street – we need to trust and respect them as well.  When that happens, the result is a true collaboration.

In your opinion, what three things make a house a home?

In my mind, there’s really just one thing: people.  A house becomes a home when people inhabit it.  But, hopefully, it does much more than just meet their basic needs – maybe it inspires them in some way or helps them grow.  I see our job as architects as helping make that transition from  being just a “house” to becoming someone’s “home.”

Tell us what your dream home would look like.

My vision changes depending on what phase of life I’m in.    Right now, I’m  in my dream condo– loft-like, open plan, exposed brick, located in the city, and accessible to all the amenities.  Somewhere down the road I can see my dream home becoming a small cabin in the woods by a lake.

With a big oven for baking, of course.

Of course!

Let us know your thoughts

Leave a Comment

Comments

  • K. Tyler | January 19, 2016

    Karen!  What a great interview!  Sincere and smart just like you!!!  Your specialties at MWA are so valued and honored by all of us!  The technical and baking skills alike!  XOXO!

    Reply

Previous Post: 7 Residential Architecture & Interior Design Trends for 2016 Next Post: What I’ve Learned from Building My Own Home, Part Two by Chicago Residential Architect Fred Wilson