Sylvia Smith

Sylvia Smith, FAIA, LEED


As Senior Partner at FXFOWLE Architects, Sylvia Smith approaches design as a practical and poetic articulation of theoretical ideas, and is firmly committed to a sense of optimism at the heart of those ideas. She believes a strong architectural concept can empower every project, regardless of type or size, and enliven the experiences of people who occupy or pass by. She is also a member of a too small community of women in leadership positions at major architectural firms. Sylvia joined FXFOWLE in 1982, and formed the firm’s Cultural/Educational Studio in 1996. Under her direction, the studio has designed award-winning program intensive projects of varying scope and size across the United States, and in Africa and Turkey. From private schools and universities to large and small cultural institutions, Sylvia is constantly cultivating new ways to make architecture more expressive, enriching, and sustainable.

Sylvia’s current work includes a new, 820,000-square-foot educational campus in Nairobi, Kenya. She is also currently working The Statue of Liberty Museum, a 25,000-square foot new museum on Liberty Island; four new academic college buildings for the University of Ghana, Legion Campus; SUNY Purchase’s Center for Integrated Technology Learning, which integrates the Theater Arts & Film programs and unifies the various programs currently scattered throughout the campus; a new 450,000-square-foot Business School for Columbia University (in collaboration with Diller, Scofidio + Renfro); a new 45,000-square-foot upper school for the Brooklyn Friends School; and a new, 75,000-square-foot College Prep Charter School for the Children’s Aid Society in the Bronx.

Sylvia was Partner-in-Charge of the Lincoln Center Redevelopment, which included the Juilliard School expansion and the renovation of Alice Tully Hall (with Diller Scofidio + Renfro), as well as the Lincoln Center North Plaza. She designed the adaptive reuse of the Lion House, the first landmark building in New York to receive LEED Gold Certification, and the LEED Gold Certified Center for Global Conservation, both at the Bronx Zoo. She recently completed a 140,000-square-foot school in Hunters Point South for the NYC School Construction Authority.

Additional past projects include the Martin J. Whitman School of Management for Syracuse University; the Knowledge Union Technology Center and the Arnhold Hall Cultural Center for the New School; the Black Rock Forest Center for Science and Education; and master plans, additions, and expansions for various NYC private schools including Spence, Dalton, Calhoun, Grace Church, Ramaz Schools, Ethical Culture Fieldston and United Nations International School.

Sylvia is very active in many industry, educational and arts organizations in New York City and the region. Currently, she is on the Board of Trustees and Executive Committee of Dickinson College, the Board of Directors for the Design Trust for Public Space and the Board of Directors of Storefront for Art and Architecture. She is a member of the Advisory Board of the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation and the Yestermorrow School, and former Chair of the Fellows Committee for the AIA New York Chapter and the Dean's Advisory Board of the University of Virginia School of Architecture.

Sylvia was honored by Baruch College with the Bernard Baruch Medal for Business and Civic Leadership for her outstanding success in business and commitment to her community; by the AIA New York State with a Fellow's Award in recognition for her commitment to professional development, mentorship of junior staff, women's advocacy, and design excellence; and she was named one of the Women Real Estate Leaders for the 21st Century by the Association of Real Estate Women.

Sylvia earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in studio art and art history from Dickinson College, where she was named a Metzger Fellow. She received her Master of Architecture from the University of Virginia School of Architecture in 1978. In 2008, Sylvia was elevated to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects, the organization's highest honor bestowed on an architect.