Forty Under 40: Lori Yazwinski Santa-Rita

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Lori Yazwinski Santa-Rita’s eighth-grade English teacher recommended that she should study architecture, and the recommendation stuck.

In 2005, the Fayetteville native graduated with a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Arkansas. She’s been a licensed architect for five years and has worked almost 10 years with Maurice Jennings + Walter Jennings Architects.

She’s proud to be part of the legacy, and understands the impact she’s making with how few women work in architecture and even fewer who make partner at a firm.

Except for when she went to Rome to study architecture for four months, she’s lived in Fayetteville.

At the firm, she was part of the project to design the award-winning Rio Roca chapel, which was built in 2010 along the Brazos River on a central Texas ranch. The client was familiar with the work of architect E. Fay Jones and Maurice Jennings, who were partners and worked together for 25 years.

“In our office, it’s a studio environment,” she said. “We all work on the design and construction documents together.”

The firm includes three architects and an intern.

They also designed Hunt Chapel, which was completed at Pinnacle Memorial Gardens in Rogers in 2013.

Her favorite project was designing a playhouse for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). She completed the pro bono project over a month in 2009.

Career highlights include her work with the American Institute of Architects and her design work on the little community libraries for Ozark Literacy Council. She currently serves as secretary for the Arkansas Chapter of American Institute of Architects, and in 2019, is scheduled to be president.