Urban Pioneering is a relaxed and friendly environment that encourages input from every member of our team. Job inquires please email

Jim Hill principal | CPHC LEED AP

Jim Hill established the fledgling firm that would become Urban Pioneering Architecture in 1999, where he is managing director and principal. He attended University of Michigan where he studied Architecture followed by Parson’s School of Design where he received his MArch. He quickly became dedicated to sustainable design. Jim finds joy in all things architectural, from the overall building to the most minute of details. His years of experience as an architect in New York City have contributed to a thorough familiarity with DOB and Landmarks Commission. Jim is a devoted Brownstoner contributor where he shares this knowledge and offers guidance. On the rare occasion Jim is detached from the drawing board, he is mastering his black belt or sailing in the bay.   

Sarah Hill principal | interiors

Sarah is a cofounding principal of UPA. With her acute eye for composition and color, and background in various design trades, she is an vital asset to UPA. Her design aesthetic is thoughtful, and her design approach is tireless. Sarah is an avid reader with a strong knowledge of upcoming trends and the latest in the design world. Her goals are always to find the most suitable products to fit each client’s every need. Sarah graduated Parson School of Design with a BFA and began her career in the fashion industry as a costume designer. When she discovered her love for designing the space rather than the person in it, she returned to school to pursue her MS in interior design from Pratt Institute. Her thesis was published in “Designing Suburban Futures” by June Williams. Sarah is also an Assistant Visiting Professor at the Pratt institute, and a master chef and hostess.

Rafael Cervantes project manager

Rafael acts as an integral connection between design and construction in the role of architectural project manager and construction coordinator. He is a part of the project from start to finish, from surveying sites, to schematic design, construction documents, scheduling and on-site management. After receiving a Bachelor of Architecture from Penn State University, Rafael has worked on a broad range of professional projects including mixed use, multi-family housing, and lifestyle and retail centers, ranging from 100,000 SF to 300,000 SF. In addition to this, he has ten years of experience in residential work. Rafael’s personal interest in woodworking leads to care in the details and an eye for good craftsmanship.

Janine Sleem interior designer | LEED Green Associate

Janine is a bright-eyed and bushy-haired interior designer & art historian. She is a proponent of adaptive reuse to sustainably preserve both historic value and contemporary social relevance. At UPA she has a hand in all aspects of design and construction administration. Janine received her BFA in Interior Design from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, and her MS in the History, Theory and Criticism of Art, Architecture & Design from the Pratt Institute, in Brooklyn, New York. Her professional experience in design and the arts range from high end residential and commercial, including retail, Visual Merchandising and hospitality design, to gallery, curatorial & the decorative arts. When she’s not sipping tea and detailing landmarked brownstone windows in AutoCad, Janine is riding the R to the last stop in Brooklyn.

Lauren Andrus  designer | LEED Green Associate

Lauren is a designer, avid coffee drinker and recent masters graduate. Her roles at UPA range from schematic design to construction documents as well as 3D visualizations. Her interests lie within the interaction between people and the built environment, with upcoming generations in mind. Lauren received both her BArch and MArch from Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, Ma. There she received Design Excellence awards for both her Senior Final Project and Master Thesis on Urban Voids. After graduating she has developed a knowledge of single family and multifamily homes with a deep connection to sustainability and green design strategies. She is currently in the process of becoming a LEED AP and studying for the AREs. In her downtime between working and studying, Lauren finds joy in DIY projects and playing with her cat REM.