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Lilla Smith ’78, P’19 Recognized for Service to Packer

At Reunion, Lilla Smith ’78, P’19 was awarded the Joan Buehler Eisenstein ’51 Award for service to Packer. She has served in many roles for the School: a Trustee from 2007 to 2016, a class agent, a volunteer for the Pelican Society and the Packer Fund, and Reunion Chair for the Class of ’78. Currently the Director of Architecture and Design at Macklowe Properties, Lilla also helped oversee the renovation of Packer’s Science Building and the plans for the Packer Early Learning Center. Receiving the award, Lilla remarked: “As an architect, the built environment is in the forefront of my work efforts, yet what I value most from my experience at Packer is the learning environment created by talented and engaged teachers and fellow classmates.” She shared these reflections with The Packer Magazine:

Looking back, what was your favorite thing about Packer? 

Packer’s small size fostered close, positive relationships with teachers, coaches, and students, and provided ample opportunities to take on leadership roles.

Which teacher(s) influenced you and how? 

One of my first classes in the Upper School was European history with Charlotte Elkind. She taught it like a college seminar. It was challenging, but her wry humor made learning about revolutions and royals all the more intriguing. My English teacher in Upper School, Jane Rinden, helped me become a better writer and critical reader. With her unique perspective, she introduced us all to great writers that were not typical of an English high school curriculum at the time. Reading Edith Wharton, Willa Cather, Emily Dickinson, Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, and Lillian Hellman was a treat, and editing Packer Current Items was an added bonus of an enriching learning experience.

What parts of your Packer experience influenced you to become an architect? 

I think by age 12 I knew I wanted to be an architect. I liked making things and I loved practical problem solving, combined with the creative aspect of an art form. When I shared this interest with Leonard Fink, our art teacher, he encouraged me and worked with me on the fundamentals of the craft of drawing and model-making. He gave me the space to explore, express ideas in line drawings, models, and sculpture in the 5th floor art studio, and I am eternally grateful to him.

What is your favorite space at Packer? 

It was the tether ball area in the Garden, but after a student got hit in the face with the ball a bit too hard, sadly, it was removed. My new favorite space is the restored Packer Tower, which has a fantastic view of Brooklyn and beyond.

What motivates you to stay in touch with the Packer community and give back to your alma mater? 

As a Packer graduate and a current parent, I want Packer to thrive. I enjoyed my time at Packer, and I gladly contribute my time and resources to help ensure its continued success.

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