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Meet Monica Musialowski

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Meet Monica Musialowski

Kelsey Munson on Jun 05, 2024

Monica Musialowski, known around the office as Monnie, joined BBA in August 2022. A Michigan native and first-generation Polish-American, Monnie’s passion for architecture started from an early age.

“Growing up, I loved playing in the half-built houses that were being built in my subdivision,” she notes. “My dad is pretty handy and built things with his buddies, like a deck or finished basement, and I always demanded to help.”

When it came time to choose a career path, Monnie was determined. “I actually had family members try to dissuade me from pursuing architecture as they thought it was too demanding and difficult, so naturally, I became even more interested. Challenge accepted.”

In college, Monnie had the opportunity to broaden her architectural horizons through two very different international study programs in Iceland and Brazil, including in the studio of architect Marlene Ricci. “She’s an amazing designer with great intuition. My serious interest in the residential design niche started with my experience in her studio.” 

After receiving her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Monnie spent a decade working in residential architecture offices, ranging from design-build firms to high-end residential construction and renovation, before joining the BBA team.

She quickly put her skills and experience to work on a North Shore kitchen renovation for a returning BBA client. “That project was a great example of the importance of relationships in a project team; architects collaborating with interior designers and the contractor to effectively and efficiently find solutions that serve the client best. At the end of the day, it was a lovely, thoughtful upgrade to the space and function of a historic home.”

The opportunity to tackle challenges is one part of the job Monnie really loves.

“I love problem-solving, and being resourceful is in my DNA. I’m always thinking about economizing space and getting the most out of the square footage available, especially in the tighter Chicago lot projects BBA does so well.”

While her day-to-day role at BBA might see her drawing, space planning, managing budgets, or choosing materials, it’s the people that Monnie enjoys most about her work. 

“We have a very talented pool of people, small but varied in their strengths and talents, which contributes to the success of our projects. I also love working with contractors and connecting with clients, it’s one of the joys of working in residential. You really develop a relationship with clients as you learn about their lifestyle and how they want their home to feel and function. It’s a joy to realize those goals through good design.”

Even in her personal life, architecture is never far away. Monnie and her husband purchased their first home in 2023, and she is eager to share her passion for home design and renovation with her two young daughters. “I hope to build a tree house in our yard with our kids,” she says, a family project like she did with her father when she was a child.

Monnie’s sense of adventure means she’s always pursuing an interest or trying something new. From cooking to gardening, picking up tennis, or adding a new language to her list (she already speaks English, Polish, Spanish, and Portuguese), Monnie enthusiastically follows her passions. “In the next few years, I’d like to build something of my own, a piece of furniture, maybe, and travel to Rome to see so much of the architecture I learned about in school.”

Monnie has a more encouraging message for those considering a career in architecture: ”Follow your interests, travel as much as you can, and talk to everyone. The network you make is hugely valuable.”

For Monnie, architecture is about more than creating a beautiful home. “The writer von Goethe said, ‘Architecture is frozen music,’ and that always seemed like a great metaphor to me. Deliberate harmonies you experience with your body that also deliver comfort and shelter. Yeah—that’s beautiful.”