Kansas City Skyline

A Conversation With Our Kansas City Architecture Studio Leaders

Since the launch of our Kansas City, Missouri, architecture studio, a typical week for Jacqueline Foy, Erin Fogarty and Niyanta Gopal involves juggling client meetings and project deliverables with networking events and internal knowledge-sharing. Their efforts, complemented by Andrew Elmer joining as director of sports and recreation in early 2024, have led to new work and new hires that help further embed our global design excellence into the regional landscape. 

In honor of Women's History Month, we sat down with the founding trio to hear about their experience so far, see how they’re getting involved with the local design community and understand the synergies between our capabilities and Kansas City’s strategic goals. 

Community & Connection in Kansas City

Although you’re all new to the firm, you share a long history of working together in Kansas City. What about the city keeps you there?

Niyanta: I've noticed that people in Kansas City generally tend to be comfortable and trusting with each other, and this is not something you find everywhere. This allows me to truly put my best foot forward and be innovative as I work to provide creative design solutions.

Erin: I agree. Even though we’re in a big city, it feels small because of how networks and connections organically grow in Kansas City. Our reputation as design professionals has grown through word-of-mouth connections and led to some great project opportunities. 

Jackie: It’s also fun to be a part of the growth and revitalization efforts underway for the last several years. Ask someone who grew up in Kansas City what it’s like now, and they’ll likely share that it is a more progressive city with a clearer vision of what it wants to be and how it’s different from the surrounding suburbs than it was twenty years ago. 

Speaking of networks and connections, how have you been involved in the local design community in the past and how do you hope to be in the future?

Jackie: Kansas City takes great pride in design and has an active design community focused on elevating the city’s global reputation for design. One of our first moves, when we joined, was establishing ourselves as active members of KC Global Design, a great organization focused on bringing the design community together in Kansas City to elevate the city's collective status as the world champion of design. 

Niyanta: I’ve grown involved in the Kansas City chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects. This group has drawn my interest because, as a minority female architect, there are so few visible role models in the community. I hope to inspire and mentor other young minority female architects to join the industry and help them navigate various situations that they may encounter.

Erin: As a member of the International Interior Design Association and the American Academy of Healthcare Interior Designers, I enjoy participating in local and national events to make new relationships and keep a good pulse on the direction of the industry. 

Enhancing Design in Kansas City Through Local Commitment and Global Expertise

Kansas City Rising has identified biologics as a “next sector,” and the city seems to be becoming a regional life sciences destination. How is the firm uniquely positioned to help Kansas City become a life science hub?  

Jackie: It’s easy to see why the city has put such a focus on this area, given the success of the Animal Health Corridor, which is home to more than 300 animal health companies, and the current level of investment in life science communities and capabilities from private developers, state and federal governments and academic entities. As the No. 1 global firm in science and technology with a strong team of both planners and architects who specialize in these complex building types, working here is, in some ways, an embarrassment of riches as we have so many different people we can bring onto our projects — from translational research to vivaria to corporate life science renovations and workplace standards. No matter the subject, we probably have an expert that can collaborate with our local team to bring forward the best possible results for our clients.   

You all have a lot of healthcare experience in your portfolio. What is different about providing healthcare design services here compared to your previous firms?

Niyanta: Similar to what our company brings to the life science market, it’s really about the depth of expertise that we can tap into from across the firm. In addition to the expertise our teams have in cancer centers, behavioral health, academic health centers and ambulatory care, we can also tap into sophisticated tools for data visualization and computational and design strategies for regenerative design that are leading the industry. 

Jackie: It’s also exciting to lend our expertise to projects in other parts of the world. We all have developed a really great portfolio of pediatric work over the years, and it’s gratifying to be able to apply some of what we’ve learned to projects outside of Kansas and Missouri — it’s another way that design ideas rooted in Kansas City are making their way into global conversations.  

Erin: In the end, though, all the expertise in the world doesn’t necessarily mean the delivery of great work. That’s where our local team comes in — we all have a long history of working together to deliver great solutions for clients in the Kansas City area. And that level of collaboration and commitment to quality is something that we will be aware of as we continue to build our team.  

Breaking Barriers: Women Lead the Way for Us in Kansas City

What has been your experience as three women leading the charge in Kansas City? 

Niyanta: We’ve received feedback from people in the community who are impressed by our curated team of incredibly motivated and talented women (and men) leading the industry here in KC. Over the years, I’ve become passionate about demonstrating the value of bringing different perspectives to the table to improve our designs. The three of us being here and doing this work reflects our firm's design philosophy and values.

Erin: We all have unique skills and personalities, and together, we make a well-balanced and efficient team. Over the years, we have understood each other and how best to serve our clients. We are so excited to combine our knowledge with the extreme depth of expertise of the people across the firm.

Jackie: There have always been women in Kansas City who are strong leaders and it’s an honor to be a part of that group during this exciting time of growth and transformation for the community. To be part of this three-woman team carving a path for positive contribution to the Kansas City metropolitan area fulfills my long-held ambition to set the example that there are many paths to take, and you can lead in something you’re passionate about when you find your particular way.  

Outside of work, you all have personal lives here in Kansas City. What’s your favorite thing about living here? 

Jackie: Kansas City has a unique and inherent camaraderie that has fostered a sense of community within our local culture. People here create and innovate and share their success with others who find the best ways to connect within the city and then on to the entire world. I am very proud to be a part of the entrepreneurial spirit that drives this city.

Erin: Growing up in Chicagoland, I never thought I'd settle in Kansas City. I have no regrets because this city has embraced my entire family and rewarded us with wonderful schools, a fantastic community and many unique opportunities.

Niyanta: I love the appreciation of design, art and architecture in Kansas City. There’s a respect for creative work, and you find something inspiring around every corner.

Left to right: Erin Fogarty, Jacqueline Foy, Niyanta Gopal
Erin Fogarty, Jacqueline Foy, Niyanta Gopal
Erin Fogarty
Interior Design Principal
Jacqueline Foy
Health Principal
Niyanta Gopal
Associate Health Principal