Larry Kearns

Since becoming a principal of Wheeler Kearns Architects in 1990, Larry has focused on projects with ambitious social, economic, and environmental goals. Current projects include The Momentary, a visual and performing arts project for Crystal Bridges in Bentonville, Arkansas and a new worship space for The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Des Plaines, Illinois.  Recently completed projects include a new home for The Chicago Children’s Theatre and two new blended learning charter schools in Chicago and Southern California. Other recent projects include The Wolcott School, Chicago’s first high school designed for students with Learning Differences, and Inspiration Kitchens Garfield Park, which won the national 2013 Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence.

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 2017, Larry authored “New Blueprints for K-12 Schools” published by Education Next, a journal sponsored by the Kennedy School at Harvard University and presented at the AAE’s Great Ideas Conference in Orlando.  He presented at the 2016 SXSWedu Conference,  the 2016 Higher Education Quality Council Ontario (HEQCO) Conference, and at the 2014 SCUP annual conference. 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.

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” overseas Embassies.

For the past decade, Larry has lectured on Building Systems and Materials and Methods for AIA Chicago and UIC, to help individuals prepare 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 member of the International Code Council, and a licensed soccer coach. In 2016, he was elevated to a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects.

In 2017, he founded YOURistics, a software company that supports a human-centered ecosystem for recruiting. He is an eight-time Innocentive Challenge winner, including two competitions sponsored by the US Bureau of Reclamation.

Larry and his wife Winnie Kearns, a social worker, live in Oak Park. They have two grown children and one in middle school.

1985                 . BArch, University of Miami, Magna Cum Laude
Professional Experience
1990-present Wheeler Kearns Architects, Chicago, Principal
1988-1990 Daniel Wheeler Architects, Chicago, Principal
1985-1988 SOM, Chicago, Senior Designer
1981-1985 Jan Hochstim Architect, Miami, Associate, Partner
1980-1981 Don Shuey Architect, Miami, Intern
Professional Registration
Professional Affiliations
1991-present American Institute of Architects, Fellow (2016)
2004-present International Code Council
2004-present US Green Building Council, LEED AP
2003-2011 City of Chicago Self Certified Professional
2003-present City of Chicago Registered Energy Professional
1996-1998 Chicago Chapter CSI, Board Member
1993-1996 Chicago Chapter of CSI, Education Chair
1988-present Construction Specifications Institute
Recent Lectures, Panel Discussions, Presentations, and National Juries
2004-Present ARE Review Lecture Series, Building Systems, “Materials and Methods of Construction”
2016 “Blueprints for Learning: Building a better classroom, literally,” HEQCO Conference, Toronto, upcoming March 2016
2016 “Design 1 Space – 60 Students, 3 Teachers, 3 Modes,” SXSWedu, upcoming March 2016
2015 “Value and Viability,” Panel Discussion, hosted by Illinois Humanities and the Chicago Architecture Biennial
2015 “Bold Studio Visit, Alternative Scenarios for Chicago,” WKA Office Tour and Presentation
2015 PechaKucha Night at the Chicago Architecture Biennial
2015 Rudy Bruner Award, Jury Member
2014 Record on the Road: Schools of the 21st Century Symposium, Featured Speaker
2014 SCUP National Conference – Childcare Centers at the University of Chicago
2014 AIA National Conference “Thinking Small on a Big Campus”
2013 Design for Aging Forum – Mather Cafes
2013 AIA Illinois – Childcare Centers at the University of Chicago
2013 AIA Chicago COTE Inspiration Kitchens
2013 Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence Panel Discussion
2012 Illinois Network of Charter Schools – Planning a New Facility
2012 School and College Building Expo, Orlando, Florida
2011 SEED Conference, Inspiration Kitchens
2011 Chicago Architecture Foundation, Inspriration Kitchens
2010 US Embassy, Paris “Greening Strategies for the US Embassies”
2009 Burnham Plan Centennial Green Legacy Project “Midewin National Tallgrass Praitie Learning Center”
2009 Friends of Downtown, Chicago, Illinois “Muchin College Prep Charter School”
2009 AIA Chicago Design Committee Tour “Krause Music Store”
2008 Acoustical Society of America, Miami, Florida “Working with Architects”
2007 Chicago Architecture Foundation Tour “Krause Music Store”
2005 AIA Florida Southwest, Naples, Florida “Wheeler Kearns Architects, Recent Work”
2005 Chicago Facilities Fund, Chicago, Illinois “Facility Improvements for Not-for-Profits”
2001-2005 Chicago Facilities Fund, Chicago, Illinois “Facility Improvements for Not-for-Profits”
2004 American Society on Aging, San Francisco “Cafes of Mather Lifeways”
2001-2003 University of Illinois at Chicago “Cracking the Codes”
2002 University of Illinois at Chicago “HVAC”
2002 University of Illinois at Chicago “Chicago’s Infrastructure”
2001 University of Miami, Miami, Florida “Tracing Steps”
2001 Art Deco Society, Chicago, Illinois “North Avenue Beach House” and “Old Town School of Folk Music”
2001 AIA Chicago Professional Development Conference “Old Town School of Folk Music”
1997 Francis Parker Continuing Education Lecture Series “Designing Web Pages”
1996 CSI Chicago Chapter Education Series “Writing Specifications”
1993 Chicago Architectural Club “Evolution”