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April 5, 2024

Shaping Spaces and Futures: A Conversation with Tenika Felder


Episode 2: Shaping Spaces and Futures: A Conversation with Tenika Felder

As the Vice President of the Design Support Service Department at Cadnetics, I’ve had the privilege of speaking with many remarkable individuals in the field of architecture. During this interview, Tenika Felder, President and Owner of Redlef Group Architects (, shared an especially compelling story. In an industry that molds the very spaces we inhabit, Felder’s journey from an uncertain student to a pioneering architect alongside her father is a testament to the power of legacy, innovation, and resilience.

The Genesis of a Vision

“Our firm, Redlef Group Architects, is not just a business; it’s a continuation of a legacy,” Tenika shared, reflecting on the firm’s origins. Her path wasn’t straightforward. Despite her father’s architectural background, Felder initially gravitated toward medicine and chemistry. It was the unexpected closure of her father’s office and a drafting class that serendipitously steered her towards architecture, culminating in the birth of Redlef Group, her last name spelled backward, and signifying the reverse of her initial career direction.

Building Dreams, One Project at a Time

Felder and her father have navigated the architectural landscape together for over two decades, crafting a niche that spans residential and commercial projects. “From dollhouses to skyscrapers,” as Felder puts it, their work’s diversity reflects a profound adaptability and a keen understanding of their clients’ visions. This adaptability isn’t just in the scale of projects but also in the face of economic downturns and the evolving demands of architecture.

A Lifelong Learner’s Ethos

“Every project teaches you something new,” Tenika remarked, emphasizing the importance of continuous learning and adaptability in architecture. From grappling with zoning regulations to integrating new technologies, Felder’s journey is a testament to the evolving nature of architectural design and practice. Her commitment to learning, whether revisiting the basics or embracing new software, underscores a crucial facet of her success: the willingness to grow and adapt.

Design Philosophy: A Harmony Between Aesthetics and Functionality

Felder’s design philosophy is a delicate balance between beauty and utility, reflecting her belief that architecture should not only please the eye but also fulfill its intended purpose. “It’s about understanding what the space needs to be for the end users,” she explained. This user-centric approach, coupled with a commitment to practicality, drives the innovation and creativity that Redlef Group Architects is known for.

Facing Challenges with Resilience

The journey hasn’t been without its challenges. From the 2008 economic downturn to the uncertainty of not knowing from where the next project was coming. Felder’s resilience shines through. “It’s about hanging in there, learning from each challenge, and coming out stronger,” she shared, highlighting the perseverance and determination that have been critical to her firm’s success.

Looking Ahead: The Future of Architecture

As the industry continues to evolve, Felder remains at the forefront, embracing change and innovation. Her story is not just about the buildings she designs but about the barriers she breaks, paving the way for future architects. In Felder’s narrative, we find a powerful message: architecture is more than just designing spaces; it’s about shaping futures.

5 Key Takeaways

  1. Legacy and Innovation: Felder’s journey underscores the importance of legacy in shaping one’s career path, demonstrating how innovation can stem from tradition.
  2. Diversity in Work: The ability to adapt and thrive in both residential and commercial sectors highlights the firm’s versatility and Felder’s adeptness at understanding and fulfilling varied client needs.
  3. Continuous Learning: Felder’s commitment to lifelong learning and staying abreast of industry changes underlines the dynamic nature of architecture and the necessity of adapting to remain relevant.
  4. User-centric Design: Felder’s philosophy of balancing aesthetics with functionality reflects a broader trend in architecture towards creating spaces that are not only visually appealing but also practically useful for their inhabitants.
  5. Resilience in the Face of Adversity: Felder’s experiences with economic downturns and project challenges illustrate the resilience required to navigate the architectural industry successfully.

Tenika Felder’s story is a beacon for aspiring architects, highlighting the values of adaptability, continuous improvement, and resilience. Her journey from uncertainty to success encapsulates the essence of architectural practice: the constant interplay between tradition and innovation, aesthetics and functionality, challenges, and solutions.

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