Karen Swanson, AIA

Professional State of Michigan, Registration, 1993

Education    University of Illinois, Chicago, IL Master of Architecture 1988

                     The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI Bachelor of Fine Arts 1980


Ms. Swanson began her professional career working with the Chicago firms of Loebl, Schlossman & Hackl Architects, Environ Architects, and the world-renowned firm of Tigerman, McCurry Architects. In 1989 she relocated to Michigan and began work with Luckenbach/Ziegelman and Partners in Birmingham. In 1992 she left the firm to form a partnership with her father, Robert Saarinen Swanson. Swanson/Swanson Architects, Inc. marked the fourth generation of architectural practice beginning with the internationally known work of Eliel Saarinen in 1886.

In 1999 she joined with Glenda Meads to form Swanson Meads Architects. The two designers joined their practices to combine complimentary interests and a shared vision for a woman-owned architectural practice to further explore projects of a specific nature i.e., having a unique relation to something; and exerting a distinctive and usually curative or causative influence.

Ms. Swanson received two AIA Honor Awards from the Detroit Chapter, one for a unique mixed use project and a second for a progressive corporate office project. She is a member of the American Institute of Architects and is currently on the Cranbrook Art Academy Board of Governors. Past affiliations include: Metropolitan Children’s Museum Board Member; University of Michigan Alumni Society Board of Governors; Michigan Humane Society Planning committee; Furniture Resource Center Chair Affair Benefit participant; Public Relations Task Force member for the Michigan Society of Architects; Detroit Chapter AIA Honor Awards chair; AIA Michigan Design Retreat participant; Artists Market Dollhouse benefit auction participant. Her work has been featured in “Contract Magazine”, “Hour Detroit”, the Detroit and Ann Arbor News, Detroit Home, Style Magazine, and most recently her profile in the online publication, Detroit Make It Here. Recently Ms. Swanson designed and coordinated an installation for Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS – Detroit 2011 DIFFA: Dining by Design for the Michigan Aids Coalition. She isa contributor to Michigan Modern; an entity documenting and promoting modern architecture within the state of Michigan. She served as Adjunct Professor for the Master of Architecture Program at University of Detroit Mercy from September 2007 until May 2012.

Ms. Swanson is currently serving as the Director of Interior Architecture at Lawrence Technological University and continues to maintain her architectural practice.