Katherine Chia & Arjun Desai | Desai Chia Architecture

Wednesday Feb. 7, 2024 , 5 to 6 p.m.
In their talk, Arjun Desai and Katherine Chia will provide an overview of their firm’s architectural work, exploring themes such as materials, light, community, and collaboration.
Exterior of a black building at dusk designed by Desai Chia Architecture

Arjun Desai, AIA, and Katherine Chia, FAIA, are the founding principals of Desai Chia Architecture. Since 1996, they have established the firm’s reputation for authentic design, creating inspiring environments expressive of light, materials, and spaces that foster collaboration.  Desai Chia’s projects have been published extensively and received many accolades including numerous AIA Design Awards and American Architecture Awards, numerous Interior Design Best of Year Awards, and an AIA Institute Honor Award.   In 2018, ARCHITECT Magazine ranked Desai Chia Architecture #19 in the nation for Design.  The book “The Women Who Changed Architecture” by Princeton Architectural Press included Katherine and the firm’s work in the chapter titled “Raising the Roof.” 

Arjun Desai grew up in New Delhi and Mumbai, India.  Prior to founding Desai Chia Architecture, he worked at SHCA/NY on numerous civic projects in New York and Washington, D.C. He earned his Master of Architecture degree from M.I.T. and received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Bennington College.   

Katherine Chia grew up in New York State and Belgium.  She earned her Master of Architecture degree from M.I.T. and received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Amherst College. Prior to founding Desai Chia Architecture, she worked for Maya Lin on numerous art and architecture commissions.  She is a board member at the Center for Architecture & the International Center of Photography, and a trustee emerita of Amherst College. 


Our architecture celebrates conceptually bold design, deliberate eloquence, and graceful simplicity in order to better our collective experiences of space and place-making. We solve rigorous design problems for institutions, organizations, and private clients, driven by our guiding principle that architecture can transform communities. The studio is known for two things: our preference for social and humane architecture, and iconic projects that benefit from our sustainable technical strategies and extensive knowledge of materials. 

Rooted in our multidisciplinary background, we seek to blur the boundaries between building and nature through our hallmark approach of integrating light as a unifying theme. Each design opportunity is informed by previous projects and expertise, which allows us the latitude to conduct new research, challenge traditional expectations, and ask bigger questions in order to build inspired and spirited architecture. We nimbly navigate each step of the building’s design and execution: from the conceptual framework uniquely inspired by each client, to thoughtful, agile and tenacious project management, through to the final construction. The results are distinct, evocative, sustainable, and enduring buildings, customized for a range of collaborative experiences that address each client’s particular needs. 

Osprey House by Desai Chia Architecture


Interior of a living room with a view looking out onto calm waters