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Working on early childhood centers makes architect's job fun

Lisa Chronister, 38, spent six years in New York but is back at LWPB Architecture, as a principal in the firm, working mostly on classrooms and other spaces for early-childhood education.

by Richard Mize Published: June 20, 2010

Even the small scale has to be applied to large spaces such as gyms, dining rooms, libraries and other common space, she said.

Working mostly on early childhood, K-12 and higher-education designs, the core of LWPB Architecture's work, represents a different career trail for Chronister, who holds a bachelor's degree in architecture from the University of Oklahoma and a Master of Architecture degree from Pratt Institute.

"My specialty for years was that I have no specialty. I've worked on so many different project types,” she said, often on "the untraditional stuff.”

Over 16 years of practice, she led the design of a variety of office, cultural, sports, laboratory and other facilities. Most recently, she was a principal at Helpern Architects in New York City, where she led the firm's renovation work at the Dag Hammarskjold Library at the United Nations Headquarters.

What brought her back to Oklahoma? With baby Eli, she said, "We realized we needed a slower pace of life, not to mention proximity to grandparents. We bought a great bungalow in the Las Vegas neighborhood (southwest of Pennsylvania Avenue and NW 23) and are enjoying the nice neighborhoods and quiet streets.”

Something that hasn't changed, she said, is her enjoyment of her work.

"I've been telling people — especially since I got back — I'm embarrassed at how fun my job is. It's embarrassing,” she said. "I always thought that in life if I had a job where I could draw buildings all day long, that's what I'd like to do.”

by Richard Mize
Real Estate Editor
Real estate editor Richard Mize has edited The Oklahoman's weekly residential real estate section and covered housing, commercial real estate, construction, development, finance and related business since 1999. From 1989 to 1999, he worked...
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Career spotlight
Principal architect

Requirements: Be analytical as well as artistic.

Education: Bachelor's of architecture, a five-year degree, or master's of architecture.

Licensing: Oklahoma Board of Architects, Landscape Architects and Interior Designers.

Professional associations: Mainly the American Institute of Architects and its state and local chapters.

Salary: Median salary for the South Central Region, including Oklahoma, was $97,200 last year, according to Architect magazine.


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