Alumni Profile: Jennifer Lee AR’97

Jennifer Lee AR’97

Jennifer Lee AIA LEED AP BD+C founded Obra Architects in the year 2000 in New York together with Pablo Castro FAIA. She is a graduate of Harvard College cum laude and the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. She has taught at Pratt Institute Graduate Architecture, the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture of the Cooper Union, and Korea National University of Arts.

She is the 2007 Cooper Union Urban Visionary Emerging Talent, 2006 NYFA Fellow, a 2003 SAH de Montëquin Senior Fellow, and has been inducted into the Cooper Union Alumni Hall of Fame. She is a Seoul City Public Architect selected by the City of Seoul Metropolitan Government and is also, together with Obra, a designated contract recipient of NYC Department of Design and Construction’s Design Excellence program for the City’s new public buildings and capital construction projects. Jennifer Lee is a licensed architect in New York, New Jersey, DC, Maryland, and a LEED-Accredited Professional of the United States Green Building Council USGBC.


Based in New York City, Obra Architects is an international architectural design and planning firm, working on projects of urban and community impact that create socially sustainable buildings and environments. Its driving force is a diverse team of designers who have converged in the city from all over the world, developing projects of social and cultural relevance in the United States, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and beyond. Obra is committed to searching for the unique opportunity to develop a singular architecture—one that is not dull or insensitive to the needs of people, but rather manages, through sensitive design, to be both intelligent in construction and generous in living potentialities, seeking to realize the maximum potential of human life for those who inhabit them.


Work includes housing prototypes, public space initiatives, urban planning, aging-in-place residential projects, educational projects such as schools and kindergartens, experimental installations and museum commissions. Obra is a minority woman-owned business enterprise, supporting local and international community-minded clients and institutional-level initiatives in work and practice, prioritizing diversity, energy and climate responsibility and environmental stewardship. The firm is actively entrepreneurial and operates to try to advance the way architecture impacts communities and environments. At the same time, the work aims to originate from a pragmatism and realism that harnesses local energies and inspired clients and institutions seeking change through architecture, design, and urban planning.


Recent and ongoing work includes two community centers in Brownsville, Brooklyn in NYCHA complexes, a pavilion for a nonprofit currently under construction atop a rooftop in the Seohyun commercial district of Seoul, private residences in Maryland and DC, the Korean Cultural Center in Washington DC, a multi-unit affordable housing project for seniors in the Bronx, New York, and an ongoing residential development in Argentina. Completed work abroad includes the Inside-Out Museum and a kindergarten for 540 schoolchildren in Beijing, a municipal government complex equipped with public health, safety and cultural facilities in downtown Seoul, and a public space project commissioned by the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Seoul, entitled Perpetual Spring or The Climate-Correcting Machine, which can be viewed online at www.perpetualspring.org.

Obra has produced a body of award-winning projects recognized by six American Institute of Architects Awards, two Chicago Athenaeum American Architecture Awards, the Kim Swoo Geun Preview Prize Award, and the Architectural League of New York, among others. Winner of the 2006 PS1 MoMA Young Architects Program, Obra has participated for three years (2014, 2016, and 2021) in the Venice Architecture Biennale and two years of the Seoul Biennale of Architecture Urbanism (2017 and 2021), most recently with its Live Projects gift to the people of Seoul, The Kathouse kathouse.org. The work of Obra has been exhibited widely, and has been featured at the Museum of Modern Art, PS1 Contemporary Art Center, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the National Art Museum of China, the Deutsches Architekturmuseum, at Rhode Island School of Design, as well as the Frac Centre-Val de Loire in Orléans, CAMPO in Rome, and Architektur Galerie Berlin. The studio’s second monograph entitled “Obra Architects Logic: Selected Projects, 2003 – 2016” was published by Arkitektur B, Copenhagen in 2017, with forthcoming publications in planning to be released next year in Europe and Asia.

Jennifer Lee is the 2022 recipient of the John Q. Hejduk Award which will be given to her on February 10, 2022.