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Congratulations Christina, Kara & Ben!

Senior Associate Christina Carlson, and Associates Kara Babcock and Ben Willis have been promoted to Associate Principal roles at Union.

Outdoor headshot of Christina Carlson

Christina Carlson

Coming to Union Studio over 15 years ago with a strong background in traditional architecture, planning, and sustainability, Christina Carlson quickly established herself as a leader of the firm’s custom residential work and community residential design.  Her design skill, expansive knowledge of residential, and mixed-use regulations as well as her expertise in all scales of residential work, have earned Union many regional and national awards.

Christina is currently leading several significant efforts including a custom waterfront home in Portsmouth, RI, and as a complete mixed-use main street development in Poughkeepsie, NY.

As Associate Principal, Christina will be instrumental in growing our residential studio and broadening our impact through her design and technical leadership on projects that span from New England to the Midwest.  Christina has served on the Board of Directors of the New England Chapter of the Congress for the New Urbanism and the Rhode Island Chapter of the ACE Mentor Program.  As class valedictorian, Christina earned her Bachelor of Classical Architecture from the University of Notre Dame, and she holds a master’s degree in Urban Design from the University of Miami.

Outdoor headshot of Kara Babcock

Kara Babcock

As one of Union’s longest-tenured employees, Kara Babcock has been a leader on many of Union’s more complex projects including adaptive re-use, libraries, community-centered hospitality, and climate action planning in threatened historic contexts. With a keen eye, she excels at tackling complex projects with extensive project teams, that lead to exceptional outcomes.  She was the project architect on several of Union’s award-winning projects—most recently Hammetts Wharf in Newport RI.

Kara is currently managing the rehabilitation and expansion of the historic Newport Boys and Girls Club. She’s also directing Union’s work to combat coastal climate challenges in Salem, MA and for the City of Charleston, SC.

As Associate Principal, Kara is dedicated to expanding Union’s reputation for advocacy at the intersection of resilient communities, humanitarianism, and design as she continues to build upon the trust she has earned amongst our most enduring clients. Kara is a committed mentor to many of Union’s young professionals, including college and high-school interns. She extends that passion as a board member of the Rhode Island Chapter of the ACE Mentor program.  Kara received her Bachelor of Science in Architecture and her Master of Architecture from Roger Williams University, where she often returns as a guest critic.

Ben Willis outside headshot

Ben Willis

Since joining Union Studio a decade ago, Ben Willis has emerged as an architect, advocate, and thought leader for more equitable, connected, and sustainable neighborhoods and places.  His commitment and professionalism have led to Ben shepherding housing, mixed-use, and adaptive reuse projects across the country. These include student housing for the Monterey, California campus of Middlebury College; a mixed-income, net-zero neighborhood in Ann Arbor, Michigan; and an urban agriculture community food hub and office headquarters on the south side of Providence.

In addition to project leadership, Ben has been instrumental in advancing Union’s mentorship and DEI initiatives, our holistic sustainability objectives, and our in-house scholarship program for underrepresented minorities in the profession.

Ben is the director of Union’s Philadelphia office which opened in 2019.  As Associate Principal, he will continue his commitment to writing, speaking, and leading impactful community projects, while growing our Philadelphia studio as we move into new office space there this spring. Ben graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelors of Architecture degree from the University of Notre Dame.


“Much of what Union has become and the positive impact we’ve made in the community, is due to the commitment and talent of an incredible team of professionals who share a passion for supporting, repairing and enriching the communities we are fortunate enough to serve. Our new Associate Principals Christina, Kara, and Ben, have not only been instrumental to our firm’s current success, they are also recognized by Union’s leadership, their professional peers and our clients as emerging leaders and trusted emissaries for what our office aspires to be in the years to come. We could not be more thrilled to share this news.” 

— Donald Powers, Founding Partner
Douglas Kallfelz, Managing Partner