Design Evolves in Creating Community
Marc and Christine Mondor are co-principals and founders of evolveEA (short for Environment and Architecture), specializing in everything from residential design to large-scale social engagement projects.
photo by natalie morris
Marc and Christine Mondor are not just in the business of creating cutting-edge, sustainable spaces. They’re in the business of creating community.
The couple are co-principals and founders of evolveEA (short for Environment and Architecture) in East Liberty, specializing in everything from residential design to large-scale social engagement projects.
In 2016, AIA Pittsburgh honored evolveEA with a Certificate of Merit in Regional & Urban Design for the firm’s part in the Centre Avenue Corridor Redevelopment and Design Plan. The multifaceted project is intended to guide the Hill Community Development Corporation as it attempts to revive its main business corridor.
Marc and Christine, both in their mid-40s, met in 1991 while studying in Denmark. They married in 1996 and formed evolveEA in 2004.
Since then, Christine estimates they’ve run more than 150 projects through the office, while Marc notes they’ve managed more than 60 LEED certifications.
They now live in Highland Park with their children, Nicholas, 17, and Katarina, 15; Christine calls the children their “favorite (and ongoing!) project.”
Christine Mondor earned her Bachelor of Architecture degree from Carnegie Mellon University and studied architecture and sustainable design in Scandinavia. She is a teacher, chair of the Pittsburgh Planning Commission, president of the Green Building Alliance Board of Directors, a member of the EcoDistricts’ Protocol Global Advisory Committee and the Penn State University Stuckeman School Advisory Board. In 2013, Pittsburgh Magazine honored her with its Women in Business Award.
Marc Mondor earned his Bachelor of Architecture degree from California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo and also studied sustainable design in Scandinavia. He is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council, a LEED Fellow and serves as chair of AIA Pennsylvania’s Committee on the Environment, among other related roles.
“We love what we do,” Marc says. “We work in a fast-moving field that calls on us to learn and master constantly.”
How would you describe your design philosophy?
CM: We describe ourselves as being at the intersection of the built environment and sustainability. We deal with design of places — whether that’s a building, landscape or infrastructure, the design of processes — how resources flow in a company or community, and the design of issues involved around people — their behavior, beliefs and culture.
Your company places great importance on community involvement and engagement.
How do you work to cultivate that?
CM: There’s no project that’s going to be successful unless there’s a [strong and supportive] culture around it. We try to be very intentional with our communities and clients as to what the desired outcome is and the best methods to get there. MM: The more you can identify the stakeholders up front and get them involved in the decision-making process through a carefully considered facilitation process, the better the product is going to be. Agreeing on a shared vision of success makes our chances of achieving a durable solution much higher.
Tell us more about the project for which you recently earned the AIA honor.
CM: The Hill Community Development Corporation is one of the organizations leading the reinvention of the Center Avenue corridor. It’s really important for communities to have a plan of action when they have an ambitious goal like that. This is an important document for the Hill CDC to use to chart its own course and take action in a way that is community-led. The plan asks questions about what the community would like to see: How do we craft places and programs that express the culture? How do we find ways to invite in the community to be a part in creating this future?