Women in PH Real Estate: PDP Architects and ARCO Group’s Cathy Saldaña Champions Sustainability in Architecture

Arch. Cathy Saldaña’s projects and craftsmanship speak volumes about some of the most endearing architecture marvels that she has worked on that are anchored on sustainability.

In a traditionally male-dominated field like architecture, Cathy Saldana’s wisdom and design skills prominently stand out. As one of the most prominent female architects in the Philippines, Cathy’s projects and craftsmanship speak volumes about some of the most endearing architecture marvels that she has worked on that are anchored on sustainability.

An article published in BusinessMirror describes the country’s top-notch female architect as one who pushes herself even further and out of her comfort zone to create architectural designs that are not just what her clients want and need but whose design principles are anchored on her beliefs and what she values most. “Standing tall among predominantly male architects in that circle, she has created a niche for herself, working with the recognizable clients and also with boutique developers. There are advocacies close to her heart: inclusive architecture thoughtfully designed for people and the preservation of natural environments amid the building frenzy,” reads the newspaper’s description of why Cathy stands out as an architect.

Her work is a reflection of her values

As the managing director of the AcroGroup, an architect-led organization that provides architects, designers, project managers and builders to property development projects, and co-owner of PDP Architects—a collective that provides architects, project managers and interior designers, Cathy has overseen some of the most innovative designs of hotels, residential properties, and corporate offices and projects of clients such as Ayala Land, Filinvest, SM, First Philippine Holdings, Discovery, and Shangri-La. She has also been involved in doing more challenging and technical architectural work through her various projects that also include hospitals, schools, commercial properties, and mixed-use buildings. Cathy co-manages one of the largest architectural KPO teams with projects for clients across the globe.

“To embrace the earth and not subdue it, to design and build responsibly alongside land and marine life, to have a full grasp of technology with design expertise to preserve mangroves, coral reefs and pristine beaches, let us lead the way,” Cathy told BusinessMirror in an interview in describing a project she was involved at in a coastal area, something that is close to her heart. In fact, when she talked about coastal design in a conference held in Palermo, Italy last year it included an in-depth probe of projects and communities beside the seas and rivers in the Philippines of which she was a part of, such as those in Iloilo and Sicogon.

A multitasker at heart

She told BusinessMirror: “Design is all about people—those you build for and the people who help build. Our life in this industry is all about building people too, and not just structures. It’s about mentoring the design apprentice and in the same light, guiding the workers, the craftsmen.”

Among her employees and her peers, Cathy is known as someone who figuratively wears many hats and their corresponding literal outfits. In fact, she has a stash of shoes in her car – flats, safety shoes, sneakers, and heels—that she uses depending on her need and site visit. In an article published in Philippine Real Estate News, Cathy describes how her typical day goes by: “I wake up early and—wearing jeans, a comfortable shirt and a hard hat—I manage a toolbox meeting for a construction project. I talk to all the men in the construction area. Then, I rush off to a more corporate setting, so I throw on a nice jacket and change into nicer shoes. And if I have an event in the evening, I change into the appropriate attire, which I usually have ready in my car or office.” Indeed, Cathy’s multitasking ability has endeared her to her colleagues at AcroGroup and PDP Architects.

Valued insights

Because of Cathy’s architectural work and design principles, the Professional Regulations Commission awarded her and recognized her contribution to the field, specifically for her active participation in the advancement of the architecture profession and its social responsibility component. Her architectural designs are a reflection of Cathy’s thoughts and values. When she speaks at conferences here and abroad, Cathy is one of the few thought leaders in the field of architecture whose insights are immensely valued not just by her peers at AcroGroup and PDP Architects but by others like her who want to make the world a little bit better.

Sources: Businessmirror, Philippine Real Estate News

Read our previous feature on PH real estate’s outstanding women. 


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