Tzveta Panayotova, LEED AP, is principal and senior lab planner with HOK. Lab Manager recently spoke with Tzveta about her career, experience, and personal interests.
Q: How did you get started in your career? Did you major in your field in college, get an internship, switch careers mid-stream, etc.?
A: My path was rather accidental. After graduating with a master’s degree in architecture, I held a couple different jobs in the architectural design and construction profession. The introduction to laboratory design and planning happened by chance. I initially was asked to help our Science + Technology studio with small projects. This eventually turned into much larger assignments. The world of science and laboratory planning proved to be fascinating, complicated, and challenging. I was lucky enough to be a part of some of our largest international S+T developments and traveled the world completing them.
Q: What is a typical day at work like for you?
A: I compare this to a new puzzle that has to be assembled every day. From facilitating user group meetings to finding building or product solutions, every day at HOK brings something new and exciting.
Q: What’s a common misconception about your job?
A: It is often assumed that laboratory planning is not an architecturally related field and is male-dominated. While the latter is still mostly true, the field is changing.
Q: Which lab projects are you working on at the moment?
A: COVID testing facilities in the U.S. and internationally; Mt. Sinai, environmental testing laboratory renovations, New York City; and a life science laboratory and office fit-out for Sanofi in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish in the next few years in this new position?
A: As a laboratory designer, I hope to facilitate the important work of researchers by creating environments that best serve their needs and foster discovery. I am also interested in mentoring others and helping them discover the inspiring world of science and technology. Advances in life sciences and technological innovation will lead to a brighter future for all of us.