Lisa Schroeder

Get to know the 2012 Gold Medal Recipient

By Posted on October 9, 2012

Name: Lisa Millspaugh Schroeder
Firm: Riverlife
Family: 3 Children – Liz, Lydia, and Jack
Years in practice: 25
Education: Master of Science, Columbia University School of Architecture, Preservation & Planning
Your first job: Architectural Draftsman at Edmunds & Hyde, Inc. in Baltimore
Project you’re proudest of: Three Rivers Park, Pittsburgh!
Most embarrassing moment: Approaching a podium, in a full auditorium, to deliver a speech and spectacularly spilling water all over myself and my paper.
Building you’d like to tear down: Now that’s a dangerous question! But let’s start with the Parking Garage on Fort Duquesne Blvd. in the Cultural District which occupies a spectacular site on the Allegheny River.
What’s the next big architectural trend? Multi-use. Multi-age. Multi–level. Multi-style.
Advice to young architects: Choose a project, a cause, or a firm that captures your heart. Know what skills you bring to the table and build relationships with colleagues whose skills complement yours. Be humble about seeking help, and prepare yourself for a wild ride!
The one thing you wish they’d teach you in school: Personal finance. (You need it to follow your passions AND afford a retirement.)
Architectural quote to practice by: “We shape our buildings, thereafter they shape us.” -Winston Churchill
Code/zoning requirement I’d change if given the chance: Zoning must become organic to accommodate watersheds and natural topography instead of being bounded by property lines.
Favorite tool (can be digital, drafting, physical,…): The power point is still the best way to weave dreams.
Favorite building: The Shingle Style house I grew up in.
Favorite outdoor space: La Foce in Tuscany
Favorite indoor space: Monticello
Favorite city: San Francisco or maybe Savannah or maybe Manhattan or maybe New Orleans….
Architect you’d like to have a drink with: Santiago Calatrava
Favorite architecture book: It has to be Jane Jacobs’ The Death and Life of Great American Cities (followed by Witold Rybczynski’s Clearing in the Distance)
Favorite Pgh neighborhood: It’s a toss-up between Shadyside and the Strip District.
Best gift to give an architect: Sleep.
Wish list for downtown Pgh: Transit linking downtown to Oakland and both to the rivers.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where? It has to be Italy! Umbria.
Someday I’d like to: Build a house with a dock on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
I want to be remembered for: Making change and helping to create places that make people happy.
People would be surprised to know that: I was painfully shy and frighteningly organized as a child.
The secret to my success: Having the courage to weather controversy and the humility to compromise.
Building you’d like to renovate into something else and why? I would like to turn the Gateway View Plaza Building on the Ohio River into a recreational facility (like the Chelsea Piers on the Hudson River) with all-weather accommodations for climbing, skateboarding, tennis, golf and horseback riding and with a beautiful riverfront promenade with a water taxi station.
Where you live in Pittsburgh and why you think it’s great? I love Point Breeze because its packed full of families, surrounded by parks and close to cool restaurants and stores in East Liberty, Shadyside and Squirrel Hill. (I particularly love that the kids on my block play in the street.)
Something you’d like to learn how to build with your own hands: Blacksmithing.
What’s on your iPod/Pandora/Spotify? Jimi Hendrix, Taj Mahal, Jayhawks, 1970s Eric Clapton, Cyril Neville & the Uptown Allstars, BB King, Coldplay, Keb Mo, Alison Krauss, John Mayer, and (for my son, Jack) Umphrey’s McGee!

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