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Dallas 500

Meet the 500: Zaida Basora, AIA Dallas

The native Puerto Rican, who also runs the Architecture and Design Foundation, shares fun facts, her favorite hobby, why she tends to take calculated risks, and more.
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Zaida Basora has long been an advocate for sustainability through her work with AIA Dallas, the City of Dallas, and nonprofit organizations. She says current industry trends involve a more thoughtful approach to urban design. “The intersection of design and health, housing, transportation, technology and just about every aspect of our lives has become more pronounced,” she says. “Everyone benefits from good planning and design, but not everyone has equitable access to either.”

Birthplace: San Juan, Puerto Rico

Education: The University of Texas at Arlington (M.Arch), Universidad de Puerto Rico (BA, Environmental Design)

First Job: “I was an architecture intern at Dahl-Braden, Chapman Architects in Dallas. I learned that motivation and initiative go a long way in getting noticed and having opportunities to develop professionally.”

Best Advice: “Follow your passion and be your own motivation to achieve your goals.”

Toughest Challenge: “Restructuring the department I was leading for the City of Dallas during the economic downturn of 2008. It meant cutting the team by 45 percent while continuing to effectively provide services.”

Biggest Risk: “I tend to take calculated risks; one of them was accepting a position that required me to develop and implement a new city code and service. I took a chance with the confidence that with proper planning, resources, and team support, there would be a smooth rollout. There were challenges, unforeseen events, and sleepless nights, but also silver linings. It all resulted in a successful launch.”

Proud Moment: “Our most significant success over the past year has been to continue offering—and expand—our programming for both the AIA and the Foundation in a virtual setting, without cancelations. It has been very rewarding to see the passion and engagement of our members and the public in general as we pivoted from in-person meetings and events to hybrid or fully virtual programs.”

Greater Good: “The Architecture and Design Foundation has special meaning to me as an architect whose career has primarily been devoted to improving the quality of life for Dallas residents.” 

Hobby/Passion: “My passion is cooking. I call it my therapy.”

Local Fare: “My favorite restaurant is Avanti, and I typically order Salad Gourmandi or grilled blackened salmon.”

Fun Fact: “People are often surprised to learn that I have five children or that I was raised by two attorneys.”

Destinations of Choice: “Puerto Rico holds a special place in my heart. I also love road trips and visiting new places.”

Dream Car: “An Alfa Romeo Spider from the 1960s. I’ve always wanted to drive one.”

Walk-Up Song: “I’d choose ‘I Will Survive’ by Gloria Gaynor. It is motivational, and it puts a smile on my face.”

A Better Dallas: “One thing I would change is the lack of equitable access to safe and attainable housing, transportation, education, and diverse neighborhoods in the city.”

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