Karen Shirley Headshot

Karen Shirley

Director of Project Management

Karen Shirley is the Director of Project Management at studioMLA Architects. With over 17 years of experience in the specialized design of child care and early childhood education facilities throughout the United States and Canada. Her extensive experience with the complex and ever-changing design requirements, new technologies, and space needs of early education is an important asset to all of the projects that she oversees. With a background in education and architecture, she is exceptionally well equipped to work with our clients to ensure that the buildings and environments that we design are fully aligned with each school’s curriculum needs.

Karen is often responsible for the overall management, coordination, and quality control of a large design team of architects and engineers in different parts of the country. Through careful tracking, communication, and proactive involvement, she works to ensure that client needs, schedules, and budgets are monitored and met. She is also an expert in the various child care and education regulations that can vary markedly from state to state, ensuring that safety, security, and operational needs are all brought together in great spaces for children. She has spoken at and conducted design workshops for the Massachusetts Children’s Investment Fund (CIF) and the National Coalition of Campus Child Care Centers (NCCCC) and has contributed her design skills to the “Bright Spaces” program, creating play spaces for homeless children.

Karen spends much of her free time walking her dog “Brady,” a handsome yellow lab. She also enjoys long bike rides with husband Ken, movies, live theater, and of course Red Sox baseball and NE Patriot games!

Key Projects
Jim Greenman Early Education Innovation Center
American Eagle Outfitters Childcare Development Center

Boston Architectural College, Post-Graduate Studies in Architecture
Southern Methodist University, Master of Liberal Studies
University of North Texas, Bachelor of Science in Education