Željka Carol Kekez is an award-winning strategist and an urban designer, professor, author, curator, and explorer. Native of Croatia, Carol is a founding partner of an innovative design studio, PLACE, embracing the idea of a better world for all through synergies between nature, art, philanthropy, and placemaking.
With her leadership, PLACE has been recognized for inclusive community engagement and design excellence by the American Society of Landscape Architects, World Landscape Architecture, and honored with an inaugural Landscape & Urban Design Firm of the Year by the internationally acclaimed Architecture MasterPrize. The hallmark of Carol’s dynamic career is the studio’s portfolio of beloved public realm celebrating diversity, local distinctiveness, social justice, and environmental stewardship. A 1% for PLANET partner, the motorcycle-jungle inspired studio features a model-building workshop and Galeria – a community’s cultural hub and ideas laboratory.
Though her responsibilities and interests take her all over the world, while in Portland, Carol is actively involved with professional and community service endeavors with the Architecture Foundation of Oregon (afo) and the Halprin Landscape Conservancy. She is an avid mentor engaging future generations at Portland State University School of Architecture, always with an ice cream in her hand.