The 12 women who made AZRE’s Most Influential Women in Commercial Real Estate list are an extraordinary bunch. While that seems implied in the recognition, it’s something that goes beyond their professional achievements. Many of these women have held minimum wage jobs, slowly working through the ranks to a C-suite. A few have known the struggles of being a single parent and what it’s like to be the only female voice in a boardroom. All of these women are active in their communities and industry organizations. And, all of them are changing the Arizona landscape one deal, drawing and deadline at a time.
Diane Reicher Jacobs, AIA
Holly Street Studio Architects
Years in industry: 26
Diane Reicher Jacobs makes a living out of connecting the dots between project design, outcome and client aspiration. True to the role of an artist, the lines aren’t always straight, and that’s something she’s proud of. The architect, founding principal and community liason for Holly Street Studio Architects was born in New York City, raised in Puerto Rico, educated in Tucson and trained in Boston, as her bio reads. She founded Holly Street Studio in 1999, where her husband joined her three years later.
What is the hardest professional or personal challenge you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?
The hardest professional challenge is changing imbedded perceptions that design innovation is a luxury, when often it is the most important factor in a project’s overall success.
What do you consider your greatest professional accomplishment?
Growing an organization from the ground up that serves multiple communities, while teaching people from all walks of life about the power of creating place. I also enjoyed serving as 2014 AIA Arizona president.
What is your most memorable deal or project?
Faye Gray Recreation Center. We began with a small budget and ambitious program to serve 100 kids daily. With the neighborhood’s input, we leveraged tight resources and built a point of pride.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Listening to people’s stories and using that input to create spaces that surprise and inspire, as well as mentoring the next generation of architects.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up and how did that aspiration affect your career?
I wanted to be an artist, teacher, counselor, political leader and ballet dancer. Seems four of five came true — architects wear many hats.
What is one little-known fact about you?
I’m a certified SCUBA diver. Love the water. Love exploration.