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LA Power Women: 5 Questions With HR&A Advisors Martha Welborne

This limited series profiles SoCal Power Women who have helped shape cities, neighborhoods, businesses and lifestyles in Southern California. These women were honored at Bisnow's Los Angeles Power Women event Dec. 12.

As a woman in architecture, Martha Welborne has overcome a lot of obstacles. 

Welborne was one of only two women architects when she graduated from college in the 1970s. When she began working, women did not get a lot of respect, she said. 

"When I was a young architect, there was outright discrimination," Welborne said. "You just had to tough it out and fight for yourself if you wanted to stay in your profession."

She toughed it out. 

Today, Welborne is a highly accomplished architect working as a senior adviser at HR&A Advisors. She is currently working on the much-anticipated aerial gondola system between Union Station and Dodger Stadium. Prior to joining HR&A, Welborne was the chief planning officer at the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

She has also worked as the senior vice president of Corporate Real Estate for The Walt Disney Co.; managing director of the Grand Avenue Committee; and as an architect and planner at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP and Sasaki Associates.

HR&A Advisors Senior Advisor Martha Welborne with her husband, John, at the Ennis House in Los Feliz.

Bisnow: Who are you and what do you do?

Welborne: My name is Martha Welborne, and I am an architect and city planner who loves to transform urban environments into more livable, beautiful and sustainable places.

Bisnow: What is the most challenging part of your job? The most rewarding?

Welborne: The most challenging part of my job is working through the many regulatory and political hurdles that are inevitable on large, transformative projects. The most rewarding part of my job is getting my projects built and watching people enjoy them.

Bisnow: How have you seen companies change the way they address wage and gender inequality in recent years?

Welborne: I think there has been huge progress over the last few decades and while these issues haven’t been fully resolved, we have been in a pretty good place over the last few years.

Bisnow: What do you enjoy most about living and doing business in Los Angeles?

Welborne: Los Angeles is still growing and changing and it is a very exciting time to be living here. I moved here 25 years ago and I have been busy on exciting projects since I arrived. Los Angeles is very open to newcomers. Plus, our sports teams excel, we are an arts mecca with the many museums, the opera and the Philharmonic, we have excellent universities, amazing restaurants, a beautiful beachfront, mountains and hills to hike in, and a population that is probably more diverse than any city in the world. What’s not to like?

Bisnow: What are you most excited about, professionally, as we head into 2020?

Welborne: One of the most exciting projects I am currently working on is to build an aerial gondola system to connect Dodger Stadium to Union Station. Five thousand people per hour will be able to fly up to the stadium in cabins that will hold 30 to 40 people. It will be a fun, new way to get to Dodger Stadium and it will bring about environmental improvements by getting people out of their cars.