Since becoming a principal of Wheeler Kearns Architects in 1990, Larry has focused on projects with ambitious social, economic, and environmental goals. Recent projects range from Chicago’s first high school designed for students with Learning Differences to Inspiration Kitchens Garfield Park, which won the national 2013 Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence. Current work involves two adaptive reuse projects for charter schools that are leveraging blended learning in poverty-stricken neighborhoods in Chicago.
Larry has collaborated on a series of five senior-focused cafes in City neighborhoods, a library renovation for the School of the Art Institute, a LEED-gold high school gymnasium, Chicago’s first high school in a downtown high rise, and a winning competition for a zero-energy Learning Center at the Midewin Tallgrass Prairie.
In December 2008, the Chicago Tribune named Lawrence Kearns and Daniel Wheeler Chicagoans of the Year in Architecture. In 2010, Larry was an invited to speak at the US Embassy in Paris to eight US Ambassadors delineating strategies that can be employed to “green” the Embassies overseas.
Most recently, he has spoken at the 2016 SXSWedu Conference, 2016 Higher Education Quality Council Ontario (HEQCO) Conference, and the 2013 Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence ceremony. He has lectured at the Chicago offices of the American Institute of Architects, the Chicago Architectural Club, the University of Miami, the University of Illinois at Chicago, the Chicago Art Deco Society, and at multiple AIA Professional Development Conferences.
For the past decade, Larry has lectured on Building Systems and Materials and Methods for AIA Chicago and UIC, as part of courses offered to individuals preparing for the Architectural Registration Exam. By invitation from the Chicago Cultural Facilities Fund, Larry has lectured numerous times to not-for-profit groups in the City of Chicago who are contemplating new construction projects.
Mr. Kearns joined Wheeler Kearns Architects in 1988. A native Floridian, he graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Miami in 1985 and came to Chicago to work for SOM. During his studies, he attended the Universitario di Venezia for the spring term in 1984 and won three student design competitions. Larry worked in the offices of Jan Hochstim, AIA in South Miami from 1981 to 1985. During that time, he headed an award-winning renovation project for the University of Miami School of Architecture.
In 1985, Larry joined Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in Chicago. As the senior designer for the infrastructure of Canary Wharf, he oversaw the design of an international financial center on a 71-acre site in London. Larry co-authored the design guidelines for parcel development for 12 million square feet of new office and trading space.
Affiliations include the American Institute of Architects , the US Green Building Council and the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI). Larry has served as chair of the education committee and on the Board of the Chicago Chapter of CSI. As a recognized expert witness, he has testified in the Circuit Court of Cook County regarding construction topics. Larry is a registered architect in the State of Illinois, a certified LEED professional, a Registered Energy Professional with the City of Chicago, a member of the International Code Council, and a licensed soccer coach.
Larry and his wife Winnie Kearns, a social worker, live in Oak Park. They have two grown children and one in middle school.