LPA Design Studios today announced the promotion of Chief Design Officer Keith Hempel, FAIA, to president of the 58-year-old integrated design firm.
Hempel, who joined LPA in 1995, has been an integral part of the firm’s growth, helping to develop an integrated design process that has produced industry-leading results. In recent years, LPA twice was the largest firm in the nation to meet the AIA 2030’s Commitment energy reduction target, and its projects have won the industry’s top national design awards. In 2021, LPA earned the AIA California Firm Award, the state’s highest honor for an architecture firm.
Hempel is an active national leader on energy performance and decarbonization, working to develop best practices across the industry for developing higher performing buildings. In recognition of his career contributions, Hempel was named to the AIA College of Fellows in 2021.
“Keith is an inspirational voice for the firm and the industry,” says LPA CEO Wendy Rogers. “He continues the tradition of having a designer lead the evolution of our firm and driving our commitment to energy performance and carbon reduction in our buildings.”
Hempel moves into the position held for the past 36 years by Dan Heinfeld, who led the development of LPA from a small, commercial development-focused studio to a nation-leading integrated design firm with six studios, eight practices and more than 400 architects, engineers and designers. Heinfeld will remain in an active role with the firm and serve as an advisor to the board of directors.
“Keith is the natural choice to lead the firm into the future,” Heinfeld said. “He’s made better building performance and design excellence the focus of our integrated design teams, demonstrating that a better design process consistently achieves better design results.”
Throughout his career, Hempel has focused on connecting building performance and design excellence, developing an integrated design model built on collaboration, maximizing passive strategies and establishing measurable performance goals on every project, regardless of scale or budget.
“When we’re talking about big goals like carbon neutrality, it can’t just be about a sample of projects or a portion of our projects,” Hempel said. “It has to be everybody, and we have to be doing it across all our practices, all our studios and all our project teams.”
During his time at LPA, Hempel has led design teams on a wide range of award-winning projects in different market sectors, including commercial, life science and education developments. In addition, he has helped spearhead the expansion of LPA’s in-house research team, which recently added industry leader Ellen Mitchell as Director of Sustainability and Applied Research.
In his new role, Hempel will lead the company’s business, marketing and brand efforts, and direct the evolution of the firm. Chief Operating Officer Jon Mills will continue to handle the firm’s day-to-day business operations, while Chief Financial Officer Frederick Braggs provides strategic direction and financial stewardship.
Hempel will remain as Chief Design Officer, developing the firm’s focus on collaboration and an inclusive design approach that involves architects, engineers, designers and landscape architects from the start of the design process.
“I see myself as a resource to help us put ourselves in a position to win projects and to do our best work,” Hempel said. “It’s not me telling people how to do things. It’s me helping people work better together and build stronger relationships.”
Hempel will continue to play an important role in helping the industry meet its goal of eliminating carbon in new buildings by 2030. Hempel represents LPA on the AIA’s 2030 Commitment Working Group and serves on the Sustainability Working Group of the AIA Large Firm Roundtable.
“Everything we do is about bringing value and helping our clients make better decisions about their projects,” Hempel said. “The challenge for the industry is to marry the ideas of decarbonization with making it practical and reasonable to be implemented.”
In recent years, Hempel has been part of the LPA leadership team planning the firm’s strategic vision for the upcoming years. The vision focused the firm on established priorities, including a commitment to integrated teams, applied research and developing talent.
“Keith is going to be our north star in the years ahead,” Rogers says. “I’m really excited to see where he’s going, and how he’s going to influence the firm and make us better.”