Stefani Randall, Principal


The Strategic Principal: A Conversation with Stefani Randall

January 31, 2023 by LSW Architects

Stefani Randall is a highly strategic senior project manager with decades of design and master planning experience. Her leadership has resulted in company-wide process improvements, quality assurance updates, and client success frameworks that have allowed the firm to vertically integrate a range of services focused on world-class design and client experience. She has been described as the calm, tactical, and insightful voice in the room, bringing order to complexity at critical moments, all while helping teams stay focused on the big picture and deliver work that far exceeds expectations.

To understand how she got to where she is today, we had a conversation with her where we learned everything from how she landed at LSW to what she’d like her legacy to be.

What is your relationship with Vancouver and how did you land at LSW Architects (LSW)?

Kolbe Index
PRINT Survey
I grew up in the Vancouver area and have been with LSW for eight years. I went to college at WSU to pursue an education and a master’s in architecture. After graduating, I worked for a large firm in Portland for a couple of years, before moving to Spokane to work for a very small firm for about eight years. In Spokane, I was able to work with my friends and colleagues from college, Chad and Kristina Daarud, who later introduced me to LSW. When deciding to move back to the area, there weren’t many firms in Vancouver at the time, so I was pleasantly surprised to discover LSW. After meeting with Casey [Wyckoff] and Esther [Liu], I immediately accepted a position. And here I am, eight years later.

What stood out to me about LSW was knowing it could be a place where I could grow my career and leadership skills. It was also a firm where I felt a strong alignment to the values and growth mindset for continued improvement.

My previous experience helped me develop my “unique ability,” although I could not quite articulate it until I came to LSW and went through their self-development workshops.

Through the lens of Kolbe™, PRINT®, and CliftonStrengths, I was able to identify what motivates me as well as the how, why, and what behind my unique strengths. I related most to the CliftonStrengths assessment because it provided a more tactical way to understand and apply my strengths and strategize the best ways to use them.

Strengths Finder
The opportunity to work within my strengths and engage and develop outside of my direct “lane” within a project role, is one of the primary factors that led to my growth at LSW over the last eight years.

What interested you in architecture?

When I was in high school, I had four main interests: Psychology, Sociology, Landscape Architecture, and Architecture. Upon learning about these interests, I discovered how they are all connected to community development, urban design, and ultimately the creation of place, which is really about people.

I’ve always believed architecture is an experience of moments. When you think about the feeling and energy you have upon entering a space, the physical well-being that designing with nature creates, or the sense of safety within an environment, you begin to connect psychology to architecture.

What also got me interested in architecture was being inspired and encouraged by my teachers, especially as a young girl, as it was not very common for women to study architecture. My grandfather, a mechanical engineer, also encouraged my interests regardless of me being a girl growing up in a family full of boys. I’m very thankful I was surrounded by influences who were encouraging and gave me the confidence to pursue architecture and the “of course I can” perspective to overcome adversity, while recognizing not everyone had the same experiences growing up as I did. My goal in leadership is to provide that same support and encouragement to others to pursue their aspirations.

Do you have specific methods or strategies you follow when managing your current role?

I have found that balancing multiple leadership roles allows me to identify areas of opportunity for development and training. In architecture, every project and client is different. Processes and systems are always changing. Part of my strategy as a senior project manager is to develop documented processes that make production more efficient, with the flexibility to work with different people and within their workflows.

Initially, as each person starts out in a production position, everything is so new that it can often feel overwhelming and difficult to understand how to utilize your time most effectively. That challenge really pushed me to adapt and learn new ideas and strategies to make the job more streamlined.

I also saw how valuable this skill was to others as it not only helped their own project management, but it gave them agency to develop their own ways of documenting and processing information. I embraced this as a strength as it encourages others to take on challenges, and I find it life-giving to provide this value to others.

What experiences are you most proud of or would like to share as an architect?

I am very fortunate to work on catalyst projects within my own community. Having grown up in Vancouver and seeing how much it has changed over the years, I am proud to have worked on projects like RiverWest Apartments, The Uptown, and Adera Apartments — all within and adjacent to the downtown core and expanding waterfront development.

What project sector do you find yourself most familiar with working in and how has it changed over time?

Urban Development
I really enjoy working on conceptual planning and mixed-use, multifamily housing projects with a focus on urban development.

The market for housing continues to change in terms of types, layouts, and the adaptation to how people live. For example, since Covid, the hybrid and work-from-home model has changed the relationship of open floorplans and the need to set up a workspace that meets the comfort, technical, and privacy needs for everyone living and working in same space.

Designing for and meeting the needs of our aging population continues to change as well. Recognizing the diverse types of amenities residents will find value in, such as pet and bike amenities, connections to the outdoors, and maker spaces are all being considered in new and innovative ways.

What this means for architects and designers is that we have the responsibility to continue to sharpen our understanding of the way we all live and connect with one another. It takes recognizing that everyone needs community, safety, and belonging, while maintaining a sense of individuality and privacy in our growing and densely populated area.

What keeps the work exciting for you?

Things are always changing! I love learning, puzzles, and problem-solving. If there is a perceived problem, I am energized to find a solution. I also thoroughly enjoy having the opportunity to train and mentor others.

What is driving progress and excitement at LSW right now?

The amazing teamwork and collaboration between all areas of the firm — architects, interior designers, accounting, business development, marketing, administration — there is a synergy toward achieving results and success together versus a solo mindset. You know you can count on everyone in the firm to step up.

What do you most look forward to in your role as Principal?

As a Principal, I look forward to helping support the growth of others and continuing to develop and refine our processes and unique methods that support the “front-stage” experience of our clients and the “back-stage” resources for our teams. The goal is to always keep learning, there is always room for improvement, and there is value in creating efficiency and consistency through the development of standards, templates, and documenting processes for others.

Waterfront Headshots-13

What advice would you have given yourself 10 years ago?

  • If you don’t love it, don’t do it.  
  • I love helping people and problem-solving. If I can help people by problem-solving, then I am energized.

What are you hoping your legacy and role will be as a Principal at LSW?

My lifetime goal has always been to be able to make an impact in a leadership position where I can provide mentorship and value to others and see their growth. As a woman in architecture, I feel very honored to be promoted to Principal, and it gives me great excitement to see how this role will offer me a direct connection to others, helping them develop their own “Unique Abilities,” just as I had help developing my own.