I grew up in Rochester, New York, and was serially introduced to architecture by my engineer father; by Robert Lloyd, my teacher at Andover; and by Matt Kahn, who taught design at Stanford. At North Carolina State University, Vernon Shogren and Duncan Stuart taught me how to pursue the meanings of forms and the methods to explore them.
At Yale I studied with Cesar Pelli, and then worked in his firm in New Haven for eleven years. Cesar is a great teacher and mentor, and his office is a wonderful place to train and work. Cesar's buildings at Rice, Princeton, and the University of Washington were my preoccupations, along with the Carnegie Hall Tower in Manhattan.
In San Francisco, as a partner at SMWM, I designed projects for businesses, schools and universities; and did research on the design principles that distinguish great academic campuses. I am still a fanatic devotee of these particularly American environments.
In ten years at Gensler, Dennis Schmidt and I grew a studio and a portfolio of architectural work for the firm's San Francisco office. We designed and built office buildings, commercial campuses, a Jewish Community Center, the Moscone West convention center, a university residence hall, an urban hotel, a residential tower, a pedestrian bridge, a treehouse, and an unprecedented intervention in the Presidio National Park. It was exhilarating, and greatly instructive, to work at large and small scale in such a variety of circumstances.
In 2005 I started Kevin Hart Architecture with three courageous clients and a small staff of designers. After 13 years, still learning, and having fun.
We are organized to devote close attention to a few special projects at a time. We work intensively, designing in collaboration with our clients. Our goal is to make places that make a difference to the people who use them.
Research: We start our design work with close attention to the place and program; we try to understand the project's broadest goals and most particular quirks. We love the research that precedes and accompanies design, and we are always ready to try our hands on a new project type. We look for projects that demand thoughtful innovation, meaningful reconsideration of the norm, careful interventions in context. We feel responsible for the meanings conveyed by the built forms of our designs.
Process: We are adept at working with groups, large and small, with projects in a public setting, and projects that have multiple users. We listen to and learn from our clients, in pursuit of solutions that are particularly responsive. We work in the open, so we can be inspired by the participation of our clients.
Tools: Our preferred design tools are models, real and virtual, which we use to seek and test ideas, and to help our clients envision alternatives and their implications. Our design process is a flexible and inquisitive exploration of alternative solutions, punctuated by frequent discussions with our clients.
Predispositions: Our design work is not constrained by a signature style; instead, we seek inspiration within the circumstances of each project, and from thoughtful collaboration with our clients. We believe that excellent architecture is responsive to the problem, to the place, to the needs of the users, and to the constraints of the budget. We admire buildings that are direct and uncomplicated, solutions that resolve spatial relationships and functional problems simply and clearly. We think that buildings should excite the imagination, should provoke an emotional response, and should be beautiful. We love the materials of construction, and we try to use them with intelligence and sympathy for their inherent characteristics. We believe that designs convey meanings that express the intentions of the owner, and we look for the ways that these intentions can be the core of the design. We work to integrate a new building into the fabric of its context, and to preserve flexibility for future growth and change.
Sustainability: Buildings use more than a third of all the energy we produce in the US, and this confers a special responsibility on us who design and build them. We take a sustainable approach to the design of our projects, and help our clients to accrue the economic benefits that result. The strategies that help buildings to use energy more efficiently can create healthier, more flexible, and more enjoyable places for their users.