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Stellar architectural work and the ability to bring out the best in people

RISING STARS 2016 COHORT

Associate principal, Grimshaw

Part 2 completed 2008

Steven Kennedy’s interest in engineering and innovation makes him just the sort of architect Grimshaw needs. He worked on Reading Station early in his career there, leading production information, managing complex stakeholder requirements and working closely with the contractor.

This interest is mixed with his ‘stellar architectural work’ and his capacity to bring out the best in people says nominator Mark Middleton, Grimshaw London’s managing partner. Kennedy showed these qualities while working on an extensive botanic garden masterplan in the Middle East, where he managed the complexities of the client’s expectations and the sensitive setting ‘excellently’. Within Grimshaw he is a touchpoint for sustainability knowledge. 

  • Future of Design’ pavilion at Clerkenwell Design Week.
    Future of Design’ pavilion at Clerkenwell Design Week. Credit: Sophie Mutevelian
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Kennedy initiated health checks on Grimshaw’s older projects. One led to a new project with longstanding client Herman Miller. PortalMill is community-focused factory development, completed in 2015.

You might see this as entrepreneurial, or as looking to the future. Kennedy’s work with Open City projects and Scale Rule are definitely in the latter camp. Both create 
the ‘clever’, ‘fun’ projects that Kennedy believes are essential to engage and challenge students, the latter resulting in a pavilion at Clerkenwell Design Week. His AKT II collaborator on the project, Philip Isaac, says Kennedy’s role is pivotal. ‘His commitment to widening participation in the industry, community involvement, and his leadership and management skills were instrumental in the success of this project.’

  • Reading Station.
    Reading Station. Credit: Rick Roxburgh
  • Future of Design pavilion at Clerkenwell Design Week.
    Future of Design pavilion at Clerkenwell Design Week.
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Middleton says Kennedy is a natural leader. ‘He is personable, always has time
for questions and is happy to share his knowledge,’ he explains. ‘Steve makes sure everyone who works with him is recognised for their input and recognises the importance of fostering a collaborative team dynamic.’ 

  • Steven Kennedy looking at student work.
    Steven Kennedy looking at student work.
  • Leading a brainstorming session at Grimshaw.
    Leading a brainstorming session at Grimshaw.
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What would you most like to improve about the industry?

I would like to improve diversity and inclusivity within the industry. It is clear that diversity spurs innovation, and in an industry where complex solutions are required we need all the ideas on the table. As architects we need to be challenged by different viewpoints.

Who would you most like to work with?

Alvar Aalto. The time and consideration that went into every element of the exquisite Villa Mairea meant it was finely tuned to nature. It is unparalleled and truly inspirational.

 

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