Lisa Sauve

Lisa Sauve

Ann Arbor, MI, US



Co-Founding Principal and CEO of Synecdoche Design Studio (si-nek-duh-kee) an award winning design/make architecture practice with studios in Ann Arbor and Detroit. Also the Co-founder of StudioStudio, a modern venue and co-working space for creatives and photographers in Ann Arbor. Lisa was also recently named Crain’s Detroit Notable Women in Design in 2020 and included in the inaugural list by Forbes Magazine for the NEXT 1000 and AIA Michigan Young Architect Award in 2021. 

Lisa is a small business investor and incremental development partner on projects with an interest revolve around how the built environment can strengthen community and connection in creative new ways that results in the core mission of Do Good Work.

A licensed architect in the State of Michigan and currently serves as a planning commissioner for the City of Ann Arbor. Holds degrees for M. Arch and MSc. in Conservation from Taubman College at the University of Michigan and a B.S. in Architecture from Lawrence Technological University. She has also taught undergraduate and graduate level courses at University of Detroit Mercy, Lawrence Technological University, and the University of Michigan Taubman College. 



University of Michigan Taubman College, ANN ARBOR, Visiting Faculty

Jan 2022 - current

SYNECDOCHE, Ann Arbor, MI, US, Principal + Co-Founder

May 2009 - current

Lawrence Technological University, Southfield, MI, US, Adjunct Professor

Aug 2011 - May 2014

rvtr, Ann Arbor, MI, US, design / research assistant

May 2011 - Feb 2013


University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, US, Masters, Conservation

Sep 2013 - Aug 2014

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, US, MArch, Architecture

Sep 2009 - May 2011

Lawrence Technological University, Southfield, MI, US, BArch, Architecture

Sep 2004 - May 2009


Forbes 1000, Award

Cofounder and CEO, Lisa Sauve, named among the first 250 for the inaugural Forbes Next 1000. The list highlights founders and entrepreneurs unanimously selected from thousands of nominations for achieving success through hustle and drive on their funding terms.

"Sauve hasn't had the most traditional path for a career in architecture. Her Synecdoche Design started as a side gig while in grad school at the University of Michigan, and has grown steadily over the years, becoming Sauve's full time pursuit in 2015--and a fully licensed architecture studio in 2018. Sauve's work in architecture and design has been recognized by Inc/Architizer, and has led to her being appointed a planning commissioner in Ann Arbor, Michigan."

The idea is that this list is open to all U.S. small business founders so long as they have been operating for a minimum of one year with a maximum of $10M in annual revenue or Series A funding. It is decidedly not bound by connections or education and committed to diversity and inclusion, geographic balance and entrepreneurs who are making a difference. Experienced Forbes reporters and editors review and vet the online applications, taking into account revenue, funding and scalability and also personal story and community or industry impact. A panel of top business minds and entrepreneurial superstars then evaluate and score the semi-finalists, culminating in 1000 honorees selected from all eight regions of the United States.


AIA Michigan Young Architect Award, Award

To recognize proficiency and exceptional accomplishments in, and contributions to the profession by an architect who has been a member of AIAMI for a minimum of three years and is 40 years old or younger during the calendar year of the award.


Notable Women in Design, Award

Design surrounds us.

Nearly every image and object in our physical environment was designed, blending form and function, art and engineering in ways that are often invisible to the conscious mind.

At its best, design just works. And so do our inaugural Notable Women in Design.

Our honorees span fields from architecture and graphic design to fashion and industrial design. They run companies, make things happen, and most importantly, create images, objects and ideas never seen before.

METHODOLOGY: The women featured in this Notable Women in Design report were selected by a team of Crain’s Detroit Business editors based on their career accomplishments, track record of success in the field, contributions to their community and mentorship of others, as outlined in detailed nomination forms submitted by Crain's readers.


Corp! Magazine Michigan's Most Valuable Millennial, Award

Everyone loves an MVP in sports. Corp! Magazine has taken this concept to the field of business, highlighting Michigan’s Most Valuable Professionals, Entrepreneurs, and Millennials with an exciting awards presentation and program. Through their careers, community involvement, and passion, these individuals are making our state a better place to live and work. MVP honorees are deserving members of the community who are creating job opportunities, driving economic growth, nurturing community advancements, or leading successful companies.


Marian Sarah Parker Memorial Award, Award

Sarah Drake Parker initiated this endowment, shared with the College of Engineering, in memory of her daughter, Marian Sarah Parker, C.E. 1895, the first woman to graduate with an engineering degree from the University of Michigan. As a member of Purdy & Henderson, Parker became a specialist in the design of the steel-framed skyscraper and helped to design such revolutionary buildings as New York’s Flat Iron Building and the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. The award is made annually to the outstanding woman senior in engineering and to the outstanding woman M.Arch. degree candidate.


Areas of Specialization