Two women – a high school drafting teacher and an architecture summer camp counselor – first inspired Miika Ebbrell, AIA, LEED AP to envision what it would be like to be an architect. Today she leads an all-women firm, Ebbrell Architecture + Design, a Massachusetts-certified Woman-owned Business Enterprise licensed in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Connecticut.
Miika has always found architecture to be the perfect blend of problem solving, creativity and art. “I love how architecture plays a major role in people’s day-to-day lives and how you can positively impact their daily experiences through design,” she said.
A native of Canada, Miika’s first job in Massachusetts was at the Gund Partnership in Cambridge. “I had a fantastic mentor who was methodical in how to think about communicating with clients and contractors, organizing information, and structuring a project approach. As I took on more complex projects and roles, these lessons proved invaluable,” she noted.
Her firm’s niche is commercial interior fit-outs, adaptive reuse, and building repositioning. Her career has largely focused on managing these types of projects, and shaping the right design approach is almost second-nature these days. She explained that the firm has honed its methodology to be streamlined and collaborative, while they also continue to diversify into different market sectors within the commercial fit-out and renovation space.
Miika left the workforce at one point to be at home with her twin boys. She maintained her contacts in the industry and did a bit of residential work, then started taking on a few commercial projects. “I realized I could do commercial work outside of a conventional office setting, while being there for my kids,” she said. “This adaptable work structure has allowed us to build a team of top tier talent who also thrive in a flexible organization, enabling us to pursue bigger and more complex projects.”
Miika says that owning her own firm is her favorite job. “It’s satisfying to build a company and provide exciting opportunities for our team members to perform at the highest levels of their profession while working on A-list design work,” she said, adding that a diverse portfolio including corporate interiors, labs, recreation, and industrial projects has strengthened the firm’s capabilities.
When asked what advice she would give a young woman thinking about getting into the field, Miika said that while becoming an architect is a lengthy process, it comes with great benefits. “The range of opportunities in the design and construction fields, the kinds of projects and challenges we undertake as designers, and actually executing successful solutions is all enjoyable and worth the time and effort. I have always felt passionate about architecture and couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”
Originally published in High Profile March 2, 2021