Photography by Nate Chappell
The Lunz Group is challenging the status quo by providing mentorship and development opportunities for its emerging female leaders.
Architecture has always been a male-dominated field. Though the number of women in this sector of the workforce is steadily growing, numbers are far from equal. According to the American Institute of Architects, only 17% of registered architects are women.
The Lunz Group, an architecture and interior design firm based in Lakeland, is challenging those norms. Over 50% of The Lunz Group — including the executive team — are female.
What causes this distinct gap between The Lunz Group and other firms? The difference is this: The Lunz Group dedicates itself wholeheartedly to developing its young female leaders by offering a strategic mentorship program for emerging architects. Comprising nearly all women, the program assists young students and interns by helping them find their own voice and feel confident using it.
To visualize, design, and construct projects from start to finish is no easy task. Architects possess the unique ability to understand both creativity and technicality, to both dream and do. Diversity in the field is essential to architectural design; without it, creativity falters. Women in architecture amplify a rich chorus of voices characterized by fresh innovation and perspective.
When speaking to any of the women at The Lunz Group, one finds that they have a unique and inspiring level of confidence. This confidence is cultivated by strong work and thorough knowledge of their craft. They are not intimidated by daunting start-to-finish projects; rather, they are excited by them.
Stacy Witschen, one of the firm’s previous interns who is now in the process of obtaining her licensure, is a great example of a leader the firm has holistically developed and grown. Witschen fell in love with architecture at a young age and began interning at Lunz after earning her undergraduate degree. “I had the opportunity to be invested in projects and clients from very early on as an intern at Lunz … I was encouraged to experiment, to embrace failure, to learn and to grow.”
Witschen returned to The Lunz Group after graduate school, which was a unique decision for a young architect to make. “I decided to come back because the team gave me a lot of freedom, leverage, and opportunities. The Lunz Group takes a very inclusive approach to design. That’s been a grounding force for me, that I’m not stuck in one concept. I’ve got a lot of freedom to explore and create.”
Witschen, though she is one of Lunz’s newer emerging architects, is already leading one of the firm’s largest projects it has ever completed. The eight-story Summit office building on Lake Mirror has been one of Witschen’s primary projects since her internship, providing her an already-impressive portfolio and proving Lunz’s commitment to its young team members.
Supportive leaders are essential toward the growth of young women in male-dominated fields, and The Lunz Group encourages and invites its team to dream up new directions for the firm. Witschen seeks to expand The Lunz Group’s offerings by exploring the urban design industry. Her personal growth in the industry is encouraged by her leaders at Lunz, and she looks forward to leading the firm to new avenues.
Currently, almost half the students in architectural programs are women. The discrepancy between female architecture students and licensed, registered architects is large. This is why The Lunz Group is a pioneer in its field by advancing its students and interns beyond education and toward licensed upper-level management positions.
Awarded the 2020 ATHENA Award for cultivating professional female leadership, The Lunz Group believes in exploring new paths to leadership and amplifying the design voices of women. It is evident that The Lunz Group is a values-driven firm, and its guiding value is its work in cultivating communities. As it raises up the next generation of architects in the industry, it inspires a community of young women to act as a foundation for the future: one of diversity, equality, and common ground.