Most Influential Business Women 2019: Margaret McDonald, HOK

By on August 13, 2019

From St. Louis Business Journal:  Margaret McDonald remembers her first project as an architect quite fondly.

The Boeing Leadership Center in Florissant, as McDonald tells it, was a smorgasbord of experience — incorporating elements of hospitality, office, dining and living — to create a destination for the aerospace company to train legions of new leaders (Boeing, on its website, said it has trained more than 20,000 employees at the center). The view overlooking the Missouri River wasn’t bad, either.

“For that first job, to be able to draw and then see something built — and even call it out if it was incorrect — was just incredibly valuable,” she said.

It was the kickoff to what would be a 20-plus-year career in which she worked on projects for storied local employers such as Spire, Washington University, Cortex, Enterprise, Ralston Purina and many more — first with HOK, then with Arcturis and now back with HOK as senior principal and one of three members (and the only woman) on its St. Louis leadership team.

But it could have been a different career for McDonald had she not taken an elective art history class while attending the University of Colorado at Boulder.

The St. Louis native was all set to become a lawyer after an urging by her father, a retired federal judge, and she planned to study political science. But McDonald loved the intersection of history, art and design while taking that elective, and she later graduated from Boulder with a degree in art history. Enrolling in a drafting class at a community college and exposure to architects while living in Seattle then led her to earn a bachelor’s fine arts in architecture from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

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