Who's Who of Professional Women


The globally acclaimed work of Nina Milkova Ilieva is the realization of a dream deferred. Born and raised in the capital city of Sofia, Bulgaria, she was introduced to and taught about architecture as a child by her mother who originally desired to enter the profession, but young Nina’s parents and sister all became physicists. In high school, she learned more from some of her classmates whose parents were prominent architects, capturing her interest permanently. Now, nearly 30 years after immigrating to the United States, Ms. Ilieva is the award-winning founder, chief executive officer, and principal architect at Adaptations LLC in Manhattan, New York.

Specializing in sustainable architecture, design, urbanism, and educating others, Ms. Ilieva’s projects have been exhibited and published at industry showcases nationally and internationally, including in New York, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany and elsewhere. Years of extensive travel enable her to speak English, German, Russian and Bulgarian. In 2022, Ms. Ilieva was honored by her peers with the Global Architecture and Design Award at the Rethinking the Future Awards in New Delhi, India, and with a grant from Research and Innovation for mentoring young Bulgarian architects.

In 2017, she received the Global Human Settlements Award on Planning and Design at the Sustainable Cities and Human Settlements Awards ceremony, her personal career highlight. Ms. Ilieva also was named among the 40 Under 40 Emergent European Architects by The European Centre in Ireland in 2014 and was recognized by the Parsons School of Design at The New School’s Faculty Merit Development Awards in Manhattan in 2013.

Certified in 2022 by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, Ms. Ilieva is often invited to speak at workshops or provide critiques at the Pratt Institute, the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT), Columbia University, Princeton University, the Southern California Institute of Architecture, the Dessau Institute of Architecture, and other centers of learning. She is grateful to her parents who instilled discipline and to every teacher and mentor throughout her life for contributing to her success. They taught her the value of perseverance, hard work, a positive attitude, and not fearing failure. In turn, Ms. Ilieva has mentored and prepared future architects, having taught at NYIT, the Parsons School of Design at The New School and the Southern California Institute of Architecture.

Before starting her business, Ms. Ilieva honed and shared her talents and skills during a long career in Boston, Massachusetts, at the SGA architectural firm; in Manhattan at Woods Bagot, Rottet Studio, Foster + Partners, John Ciardullo Associates, and Reddymade; and in Houston, Texas, at Slattery Tackett Architecture and at Brand and Allen Architects. She holds a master’s degree in urban design and planning from the Southern California Institute of Architecture in Los Angeles, California, a Master of Architecture from the University of Houston, and a Master of Architecture from the University of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy in Bulgaria.


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