Debra Lehman Smith is the founding partner of LSM , a 50-person studio with projects that are lauded as models of design excellence and catalysts for promoting organizational vision and change. Her formative years provided a strong foundation for her current role as LSM’s design leader; her first position was with Arenco in Houston (where she worked for the late Mel Hamilton , 1989 Hall of Fame) and she spent a subsequent dozen years at SOM in New York, Houston and Washington, DC.
Her client list includes corporate leaders Samsung, General Dynamics, Gulfstream, Siemens and Gannett/USA TODAY, as well as notable property developers including Tishman Speyer Properties, Brookfield and Land Securities. LSM’s work is widely respected in the legal arena as well, including a portfolio of over 10 million square feet of space for law firms such as Jones Day, DLA Piper, Covington, Allen & Overy and K&L Gates.
LSM’s work has a global reach, with projects spanning from Warsaw and Moscow, from Dubai to Seoul, and throughout Europe and the United States. The recently-completed European Headquarters for K&L Gates in London has been recognized as a paradigm of business excellence, winning the British Counsel of Offices Best of the Best award in 2012, Architectural Record’s Good Design is Good Business, IIDA’s Global Excellence Award and the 2014 National AIA Honor Award. The firm’s accolades span the business and design communities, with awards for design, workplace and excellence in real estate strategy from Business Week, the US General Services Administration and the American Institute of Architects.
Debra and her team are noted for their collaborative methodology which has led to creative partnerships with some of the most renowned figures in architecture and development, and in some of the most innovative buildings today. With Pelli Clarke Pelli and Land Securities , she was responsible for the public spaces at 62 Buckingham Gate in London’s re-emerging Victoria which opened this spring. With Jahn in Doha, she worked to develop the pubic spaces for the 90,000-square-meter Doha Convention Center including a 2,000 seat multi-function hall and a private reception suite for the Emir. On the other end of the size spectrum, a recently-completed sales and marketing center for Gulfstream in London has cemented a presence for the jet manufacturer in Europe; she has also advised Gulfstream on the design of the jet’s interiors.
Debra’s commitment to the profession was cemented early in her career; she was named Designer of the Year by Interiors Magazine in 1995, and inducted into the Interior Design Hall of Fame that same year. She is an advocate for public art programs and design education and has served as an advisor to universities and institutions nationwide, including the National Gallery of Art, the University of Kentucky, the University of Texas at Austin and the Visiting Committee of the Harvard University Graduate School of Design.
She leverages her expertise to support our nation’s institutions as well, serving as a Design Excellence Peer Reviewer for the General Services Administration and on the State Department Bureau of Overseas Buildings Industry Advisory Panel. She is an officer of the Executive Board of the Washington, DC Chapter of the International Women’s Forum, a global organization dedicated to promoting better leadership for a changing world, and contributes to numerous arts and university-level educational institutions.