Larry Kearns

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Larry is interested in projects having ambitious social, economic, and environmental goals.

Larry has served as Project Principal for The Momentary, a sister facility to Crystal Bridges in Bentonville, Arkansas, that opened in 2020. He has served as Project Principal for the following award-winning projects: Intrinsic School Belmont Campus, UChicago Childhood Development Center – Stony Island, Inspiration Kitchens Garfield Park, Exelon Gymnasium, Wolcott School, and Hansberry College Prep. He was Project Architect for Muchin College Prep, the Old Town School of Folk Music, the Orchard Residence, the Depaul Residence, and a series of senior-focused Cafes for the Mather Foundation throughout Chicago. He also served as the Project Principal for the net-zero Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie Learning Center Competition.

He is a thirteen-time winner of InnoCentive Challenges in multiple disciplines. He is a current Department of Energy grantee and was a finalist in the third round of the DOE’s Solar Prize for TrackerSled, which intends to invigorate rural economies with local renewable energy.

Larry frequently lectures to professional and academic audiences on culture, education, and community-building topics. In 2022, he presented at the “Building Museums Symposium” hosted by the Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums. In 2021, he presented for a Northeastern University lecture series on “Building Community with Food.” In 2017, he authored an article for EducationNext on the design of blended learning spaces. He presented at Michigan’s Asian Carp Challenge in 2018, Texas’ Desalinization Conference in 2018, and The ASAE’s Great Ideas conference in 2017. He presented at SXSWedu in 2016 and served on a panel at the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario in 2016. He presented at the National Association for the Education of Young Children conference in 2015 and the Society of College and University Planning Annual Conference 2014.

In 2010, he lectured to eight sitting US Ambassadors in Paris on the greening of US Embassies. From 2004 to 2014, he lectured on building design, construction, mechanical, plumbing, and electrical systems to candidates sitting for Architectural Registration Exam. In 2008, Larry Kearns was named Chicago Tribune’s “Chicagoan of the Year” in Architecture, and in 2016, he was elevated to a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects.

Larry is a LEED Accredited Professional and is a licensed Architect in eight states. He and his wife Winnie Kearns, a social worker, live in Oak Park. They have two grown children and one in high 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
Lectures, Panel Discussions, Presentations, and National Juries
2022 “Kraft®-ing Culture: A Case Study in Leveraging the Fabric of America’s Heartland from the District to the Gallery, 2022 Building Museums™ Symposium, May 2022
2021 “Inspiring Design: Building Community with Food,” Northeastern University School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, January 2021
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”