Jessica Senker is one of the founding members and Co-Principal of Philadelphia’s J&M Preservation Studio, and one of our most loyal and beloved members here at CultureWorks.
J&M Preservation Studio is a certified Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) that offers professional architectural and engineering services in the general domain of historic and existing buildings. Founded by Jessica and her partner Melanie in 2013, J&M has worked tirelessly to preserve and restore some of our city's most precious historic sites, including the famous Eastern State Penitentiary.
“Our longest standing client, the Eastern State Penitentiary, has had a ton of exciting projects within it that we have worked on that included structural conservation efforts and mural restoration. While we have been doing this a long time, every single project is something different - so it never gets boring. It always has us learning new things on the fly and keeping us on our toes”.
Surprisingly, Jessica’s journey started far off from where it led, in fact, she pushed the idea of architecture out of her sights for years. While attending The University of the Arts for a Bachelors in Fine Arts, Jess landed an internship in City Hall with the Office of Arts and Culture. It was here that she was responsible for keeping track of Philadelphia’s vast collection of public art. Through connections made during this time, Jessica found herself on a site where they were preserving mansions around Fairmount Park, which immediately sparked her interest in the restoration of old, historic buildings - dating back to her upbringing in a 1920’s Dutch Colonial on Long Island that her parents fixed up all on their own.
“As I was trying to put together my senior thesis as a Fine Arts major at UArts, I was forced to ask myself, what am I passionate about? What makes me tick? What does my work represent? And I just kept coming back to old buildings!”
After following her passion and going on to get her Masters from University of Pennsylvania, Jess met Mel while working at a small architectural and engineering firm in the city. When the business closed abruptly, Jess and Mel were forced to make a choice. Go find new jobs, or take a huge chance and go out on their own. This brave and bold decision changed the course of their lives forever, and J&M Preservation Studio was born.
While their important work stands tall and strong on its own, being a part of CultureWorks has created a sense of community rarely found in the architectural and engineering field.
“I love being a part of CultureWorks because although I don’t work directly with the team on a day-to-day basis, this idea of being a part of something bigger that does really great things for small businesses is something I really value”.