Female architect a major player in the sports architecture world - KCTV5

Female architect a major player in the sports architecture world

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

Sports architecture is typically a man's game, but meet a woman who's not only in the industry, but is a major player in it.

A Kansas City company made the opening game at the University of Minnesota in 2009 possible, designing and building the TCF Bank Stadium. Leading the charge was Sherri Privitera, a sports architect and project manager for Populous, a worldwide firm specializing in athletic architecture.

"I'm so used to, for the last 16 years, being the only female in the room with a whole host of males, whether it's clients, or prestigious athletes, or just here at work," Privitera said.

Privitera is one of a handful of women in the Kansas City office and the only one to rise in rank to principal – a licensed architect who is the sole proprietor or who shares ownership of the firm or who oversees the firm's services with specific projects - a moment she remembers with much emotion.

"I certainly was just so excited and couldn't wait to share the news with my parents. I get emotional just thinking about it because I know how hard we've all worked, and they've been such an incredible support team to me," she said.

But the heavy hitter in the college sports industry didn't break through the glass ceiling overnight.

"You have a head football/basketball coach and you can tell they're pretty hesitant, wondering if this female is going to ask the right questions, to know how to build their sports facility," she said. "But really quickly, they learn that this is not my first time doing this and I know what I'm talking about."

Early on, Privitera's parents were there as their daughter mapped out her course from an early age.

"I was always out with my dad, whether it was working with the drill, or the saw, or mowing, or whatever the chores were," she said. "One thing that was clear was that I knew what I wanted to do after high school graduation."

Following high school came a bachelor's and a master's degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her thesis was on something that was near and dear to her heart.

"I watched a lot of basketball in my free time, and I knew I wanted to build an arena. In my six years of school, that was the most intriguing process and I loved it," Privitera said.

Privitera now has a corner office at Populous. Pictures of her husband and little girl share space on her desk with her next big project – the new $250 million Baylor University stadium, set to open in 2014.

Privitera's resume includes work with 12 conferences and more than 50 Division I universities.

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