(Class of '68) Marianne McKenna - Architect
Marianne McKenna ’68 is a founding partner of the award-winning practice of KPMB Architects. Born in Montreal and educated at Swarthmore College (B.A. 1972) and Yale University (M. Arch. 1976), Marianne was given the Judy Elder Alumna Award by The Study in 2008.
The architecture of concert halls and how design is used to engage community has been Marianne’s special focus for over 20 years, beginning with the Royal Conservatory in 1990. Completed in 2009, the award-winning Royal Conservatory TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning is described as the ‘jewel in the crown of Toronto’s Cultural Renaissance.”
Regarding her choice to pursue architecture, Marianne shared “I originally saw the profession as a balance between creative and business skills. I found out quite early that it is much more than that. It is a creative profession but requires the leadership skills of innovator, arbitrator, negotiator, communicator, along with strong design talent and business acumen. The pleasure of architecture is in the range of challenges that only increase from day to day.”
Looking back to her time at The Study, where she displayed her leadership abilities as Head Girl, Marianne offered “I do think being Head Girl encouraged my sense of fearlessness and gave me confidence to see my path as an independent trajectory. It is not easy being a teenage girl, and I felt awkward, frustrated and bored a lot of the time. It is definitely the chrysalis phase of one’s life, andI can remember the day I emerged with the realization that I had become the woman I had imagined myself to be.
Speaking directly to today’s Study girls: “Be bold. Use your voice to express yourself and find what makes you feel good about yourself, and others around you. It may seem intimidating but it will stand you in good stead for the great wooly world that awaits.”