Malena Aquino

Malena Aquino AIA

Principal / Senior Lab Planner


One stereotype of architects is that they are worldly. Malena Aquino is more than that – she is a metaphorical representation of the United Nations. She grew up in Asuncion, Paraguay and moved to the United States while in high school, so she views life through two different cultural lenses. Her son married a Brazilian, so Portuguese is often spoken in Malena’s home in addition to Spanish and English. She has siblings who live in Paraguay, a bilingual country, so her nieces and nephews primarily speak Spanish and Guarani. Another sister lived in Switzerland for many years so that family branch’s main language is French – and now that sister works for the United Nations in New York!

In today’s globalized workplace, cultural diplomacy is an essential planning skill and even more so in the international realm of science laboratories. Effectively connecting with laboratory users, successfully identifying their working needs today and anticipating potential future uses of their spaces as technology evolves is a critical component of Malena’s work. Additionally, she acts as liaison between laboratory users and the project team to ensure the building has appropriate infrastructure to support the finished lab in its current - and future - states. Finally, Malena has to remain on the leading edge of scientific and architectural advances, which is no small challenge.