The Thinking Outside the Box – Exploring Alternative Careers in Design panel discussion is on Wednesday, April 13th. Learn a little more about our third panelist, Erin Olson-Douglas!


Erin Olson-Douglas

Economic Development Coordinator, City of Des Moines

Erin Olson-Douglas has left footprints across many major development projects that define Des Moines. Olson-Douglas is an Economic Development Coordinator for the city of Des Moines. She steered the creation of the city’s downtown master plan, called What’s Next, Downtown?, and has been involved in the creation of the skywalk master plan, the renovation of Cowles Commons, the convention hotel, the renewal of Gray’s Lake, revitalization in the East Village, remaking Walnut Street, development of the downtown Hy-Vee, and planning for the City’s Municipal Services Center. She went to work for the City in 2006 after stints with private firms in the Boston area and substance architecture in Des Moines. Olson-Douglas has a master’s degree in architecture in urban design from Harvard University and a bachelor’s in architecture from Iowa State University.

Erin is one of four women who co-founded Iowa Women in Architecture in 2011 as a group that would examine issues related to women in architecture and related professions and serves as a resource for women at all stages in their careers. Since 2014, she has been working with a local group to found the Iowa chapter of the Urban Land Institute, an international organization that promotes cross disciplinary collaboration and quality, responsible development. Erin has served as a lecturer in the Iowa State architecture department and enjoys opportunities to participate in student design reviews. Olson-Douglas said she was drawn to urban design out of curiosity. She notes that by the time architects are involved in the process, important aspects of the development and planning decisions have been made. She shifted from architecture to urban design and planning and later moved from employment in private consulting to the public sector to participate in that process. Erin and the City’s other Economic Development Coordinators each bring a different set of experiences to a job that promotes development in the City and negotiates public incentives for private development. My role is to ensure that individual projects adhere to larger visions that we have for the city and that we get the best possible design and building quality in projects that receive public subsidy.

Erin is married to a landscape architect that has his own small business and they have 3 young children.

Don’t forget to RSVP for the iaWia “Thinking Outside the Box – Exploring Alternative Careers in Design” event on Wednesday April 13, 2016 from 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM.