We had the good fortune of connecting with Emily/Maria Zand/Pastorelli and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Emily/Maria, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
During architecture school, our priority was to perform well in classes and do our best work in the design studios. Because we are in a creative field, it is very hard to estimate how long things might take or when we will be in a good headspace to work on design problems. Once we got to graduate school, our personal lives started to become more integrated with our school work, and aside from those last few weeks before a big presentation, we found a good balance between working hard and focusing on school and also finding time for ourselves, friends and family.

Now that we both work full-time and run the Open Plan Podcast, we are getting better at setting boundaries in terms of when we need to shut down the computer and prioritize ourselves by scheduling in time for exercise, social events, and downtime at home with our families. We think of work life balance as something that stretches and molds to different phases of our lives. Side projects like the Open Plan Podcast would not happen if we didn’t spend extra hours aside from our jobs to build something we are passionate about. Sometimes we need to dedicate ourselves to specific efforts, while other times we are able to pull back and prioritize our lives beyond work.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Originally from São Paulo, Brazil, Maria moved to Atlanta in 2014 to pursue her architecture studies. She completed her Bachelor of Science in Architecture in 2018, and her Masters of Architecture in 2020, both at Georgia Tech! During her education, she completed multiple internships working on healthcare and multi-family developments. She was also very active in school, getting involved in student organizations such as Equity in Architecture and other leadership roles.
Maria is currently the Marketing Manager at Collins Cooper Carusi Architects and lives in Midtown Atlanta with her husband.


Emily is originally from Rockville, Maryland in the suburbs of Washington D.C. She completed her Bachelor of Science in Architecture at Temple University in Philadelphia, and her Masters of Architecture at Georgia Tech.

Before her Master’s, she worked in a range of industries including transportation, commercial/retail, and multi-family developments. In school she gained interest in both healthcare and urban design through research and studio experiences.
She is currently a Consultant, Architect for WSP in their Science & Technology sector, where she works on laboratories, high containment buildings, and research facilities. She currently resides in Philadelphia, PA with her husband and 1 year old cockapoo, Alfie.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Midtown neighborhood walk into Piedmont Park, get on the beltline for a bit and get some coffee at the PCM Dancing Goats. Walk to Inman Park and get lunch at Delbar and ice cream at Voga. Go home, take a nap, then a late dinner and drinks at Cooks & Soldiers or Sotto Sotto. – Maria

Virginia Highlands neighborhood walk to get coffee at Perc, explore around small businesses on North Highland Ave, stop for brunch at Manuel’s Tavern (their pancakes are a must!), head over to Ponce City Market for shopping, and end the day at Atkin’s Park for dinner & drinks and Dark Horse for some karaoke! – Emily

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
We would first like to give a shoutout to our partners, Ashcon and José, for their endless support of our crazy ideas/ventures (like this Podcast!). The Podcast would not be here without their advice in tech issues, content creation, business ideas, and more. Thanks, guys! We also want to shout out James Cramer, our Business Development professor in graduate school. Professor Cramer helped us discover our communication/graphic skills outside the typical architecture realm, and in turn gave us the confidence to start this podcast. His advice on “marketing yourself” is something we revisit often.

Finally, we want to shout out Georgia Tech’s School of Architecture for not only introducing us, but for being a supportive community every time we release new episodes. We also have a large listener group from the school, so thank you to our fellow yellow jackets!

Website: openplanpodcast.com

Instagram: @openplanpodcast

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/open-plan-podcast/

Other: Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/1dDIM8vsaYeqLX1XiDvQVh?si=0ede852df7e94047 Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/open-plan-podcast/id1531993523

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutAtlanta is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here