40 Under 40: Jennie Santoro

Dec. 3, 2014

Jennie Santoro, AIA, NCARB

Project Architect, HNTB

Born in Massachusetts and raised in Southern California, Jennie Santoro returned to the east coast to study architecture at The Catholic University of America (CUA), School of Architecture and Planning in Washington, DC. In addition to the nation’s capital as a classroom Miss Santoro studied abroad throughout Europe including Rome, Paris, and the Netherlands leading to a passion for travel as well as understanding other cultures and their built environment. She began her career in HNTB’s DC office working primarily on aviation and convention center projects. After receiving both her Bachelors of Science in Architecture and Master in Architecture from CUA, she returned to the west coast, this time to San Diego to work on the San Diego International Airport Terminal 2 West Expansion, also known as the ‘Green Build’. As part of a design-build team Miss Santoro was located on site from Program Validation through Construction Administration, playing an integral role in all aspects of the project. She worked closely with a variety of airport stakeholders, the airports public art program and the TSA. In addition to receiving numerous awards, the project is the first LEED Platinum commercial airport terminal in the world. Concurrent to this five year project Miss Santoro assisted with terminal planning services at SFO, program and construction management on DEN South Terminal Redevelopment and checkpoint design on LAX Tom Bradley International Terminal. Her career is focused on terminal planning and architecture; she is knowledgeable on a wide range of aviation design issues and is an expert in checkpoint design. After the completion of the San Diego ‘Green Build’ project Miss Santoro joined HNTB’s LA architecture office and is currently working on projects at LAX. She is a registered architect in California, NCARB certified, and a member of the American Institute of Architects.

In addition to her passion for travel and the built environment, Jennie is a hardcore US Soccer fan, a competitive adult rec-league player, and an avid sailor.

Top 40 Under 40 Questions

1)    Why did you select aviation as a career?

I didn't consciously choose aviation as a career, but rather, it was more of an evolution of my interests and talents that has resulted in me designing airports. My curiosity about the world around me coupled with the desire to have a positive impact on it through the built environment led me to become an architect. I was always fascinated with how people move through spaces and the complexities of large public buildings. As I began working on airports I was soon hooked by the challenges of airport design and the witnessing the benefits of well done projects.

2)    What advice from a mentor helped you the most in your career?

'Keep smiling.' A senior terminal planner I worked with in DC told me this often. It wasn't meant as advise but I find the more I do it the more positve things happen with my career.

3)    What is the biggest challenge you see facing aviation today?

The biggest challenge of the industry today is that we have more of them. Environmental Sustainability, Security, and meeting the needs of modern business traveler are just a few of the exciting challenges that are drastically different from 40 years ago (the time of air travel before today's young professional were even alive). And the biggest challenge is to meet all of these diverse needs while still creating a pleasurable passenger experience and maintaing, or perhaps bringing back, the romance of air travel.

4)    What advice would you give to others in the industry?

Look at the big picture and make sure you understand the why before you try to figure out the how.

5)    What are three things we don’t know about you?

- I'm a huge soccer player and supporter of the US teams. You can often find me on the pitch or cheering with the American Outlaws.

- Within the past few years I've become a sailor. I really enjoy having new hobbies as an adult and constantly learning. Sailing and flight are very closely related and the more my knowledge increases the more my passion grows. I was never interested in physics but recently I've found myself fascinated with the concept of lift, whether it's mid-flight or mid-regatta.

- Window seat. Always.