Emma Castro-Krivanek
Associate Principal, Senior Architect | Populous

Emma Castro-Krivanek’s obsession with the Olympics as a youngster, starting with the 1992 Summer Games in Barcelona, Spain, helped inspire her to become a sports architect.
“It got me hooked,” said Castro-Krivanek, an architect and associate principal with Populous. “Ever since then, I’ve appreciated that there was a space where people could put their issues aside for a moment of pure joy. I wanted a little bit of it. That’s what got me into this particular field.”

The native of northwest Mexico attended Temple University in Philly and earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture. As a baseball fan, she followed the Phillies as they built Citizen Bank Park in the early 2000s, which helped fuel her interest to become a sports designer.

She joined Populous in 2013, following her friend Heather Stewart, one year after they worked together at H.W. Lochner in Kansas City, Missouri, a design and engineering company. Populous is also based in Kansas City, and it was Stewart who pushed Castro-Krivanek to pursue an opportunity to join a leader in sports architecture.

“I would have never taken the leap if she had not come here,” she said. “It would have taken years for me to feel confident and make that transition. Heather has been a tremendous mentor. She helped me learn how to balance things (equally), to start a family and keep my career going at the same time.”

Her first project was to help design an office expansion at Gillette Stadium, a project that extended to planning the TB12 Sports Therapy Center. The fitness center is tied to the building and developed by quarterback Tom Brady and his personal trainer, Alex Guerrero.

“It was overwhelming, but (Populous architects) Jon Knight and George Holton told me to dissect it in small pieces and I’ll get through it,” Castro-Krivanek said. “After I realized the definition of sports wellness and what’s required to keep an athlete healthy, I was all for it.”

She stayed with Populous’ NFL group for a while, working on projects for the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs before switching to the transformation of Wrigley Field, a five-year, $760 million project in which Castro-Krivanek was responsible for redesigning the vintage ballpark’s 80 suites.

For the past five years, she’s been working on multiple projects, including upgrades to 2026 World Cup venues in Mexico. She’s a big proponent of sustainability, revitalizing aging venues.
“It’s the way I live my life,” Castro-Krivanek said. “I’ve got an electric car (for example). I requested to be involved in something that’s exciting with new design, but also protecting as much as we can. It’s a stewardship of sorts for World Cup.”

Along the way, she’s immersed in trade groups that reflect her heritage and advocacy, such as the National Organization of Minority Architects and the American Institute of Architects’ Women in Design, where she serves as co-chair.

“The attention people pay now to women’s sports is part of my work, designing buildings that reflect the overall community,” Castro-Krivanek said. “Projects must be inclusive of everybody, whether it’s mothers that nurse their kids or people that don’t feel like they’re relegated to the back row.”


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