As a very young girl, Bethlehem native Darlene Pors knew she wanted to become an architect.
But never did she imagine that her designs – especially those of a complex plumbing infrastructure – would be used in the towering new buildings that are gracing downtown Allentown’s skyline in the biggest economic revival the city has ever seen.
“It was so rewarding to be a part of such an exciting project and seeing the first stages of the revitalization of the city of Allentown,” said Pors, 56.
“It’s not just the work I did as a plumbing designer, but a team effort … that took this project from a plan on paper to a reality.”
The lead designer for heating, ventilation, air conditioning and plumbing at H.T. Lyons in Allentown, Pors a couple of years ago was given the biggest assignment of her career. She was tasked with drafting and designing the plumbing for One City Center, Two City Center and The Renaissance Allentown Hotel in downtown Allentown – projects that are part of developer J.B. Reilly and City Center Investment Corp.’s massive revitalization effort to transform the once-crumbling city.
Before her 13 years with H.T. Lyons, Pors made her way through the ranks for 10 years at PPL Corp., drafting piping designs for the largest utility company in the state. H.T. Lyons is a subsidiary of PPL.
“Even though PPL doesn’t have a ton of executive women there, they are in support and help you to succeed,” said Pors, a graduate of Goddard College in Vermont.
In an exclusive interview with Lehigh Valley Business, Pors talks about her struggles in a male-dominated industry years ago when “anything you did, you had to make sure that you worked twice as hard and you were twice as smart.”
Lehigh Valley Business: What were your passions growing up, and how did they lead you to your career?
Darlene Pors: I always had a love for architecture and history. When I was young, my family used to take me to historic places in the state [Pennsylvania], and I always thought I would want to be an architect.
I can remember my mom and my aunt, even though they encouraged the love of history and all … when I started high school … they always said, ‘just take typing, you’ll always have a job as a secretary.’ I didn’t listen. I guess it was a good thing I didn’t.