Congratulations to Julie Hendricks, Selected as 2016 LEED Fellow

LEED Fellows are best-in-class for green building design, engineering and development

Kirksey is very proud to announce that our very own Julie Hendricks, AIA, is now also a LEED Fellow, as named by Green Business Certification (GBCI). With only 24 LEED Fellows selected nationally, this honor exemplifies a diverse array of achievements and contributions to the green building community. There are only 9 other LEED Fellows in the state of Texas, and only 1 in Houston — Julie now makes 2, so this is quite an accomplishment.

We are so proud of this well-deserved honor for Julie! For the full press release, click here.



Julie being inducted into the 2016 class of LEED Fellows:




Member of Kirksey’s Design Team Honored at Opening Reception for Texas Student Biennial Exhibition


Master Board (MCHAP)


Kirksey’s very own Giovanni Peña, a member of Kirksey’s Design Team, was honored at the Biennial Opening Reception for the 2016 Texas Student Biennial Exhibition, an exhibit featuring the work of architecture students from all eight architecture schools across Texas. His design thesis, focusing on a conceptual recycling center in his home country of Puerto Rico, was selected to be featured. We sat down with Giovanni to learn more about the exhibit and his work.

What is the Texas Student Biennial Opening Reception?
The reception marks the beginning of the 2016 Texas Student Biennial exhibition, an event where many students and professionals are able to see a great variety of projects by architecture students across Texas.

How were you selected?
While I was completing my thesis project at the University of Houston’s Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture, one of my professor’s encouraged me to submit my project for the 2016 Texas Student Biennial. This year’s theme was “sequence,” a concept I believed my project represented. I submitted my project for consideration and within a few weeks, I received an email from the event organizer notifying me that my project had been selected. 

What are the eligibility requirements?
The exhibition features projects from all eight architecture schools in Texas. As far as the content of the project, the committee wanted to see an exploration of sequence and its potential in students’ work. 

How long does the exhibit last?
The drawings and models will be displayed until December 16.

What motivates you as a designer? Where do you find inspiration?
I am fascinated by anything that involves problem-solving through design. More specifically, the often overlooked typologies such as public housing and community projects. Before I studied architecture, I wanted to be an artist, and while studying architecture, I rarely referenced works of art in any of my projects.

The more I learned about architecture, the more I realized it wasn’t art. Art doesn’t have to serve any purpose, and with a few exceptions, it doesn’t have to solve any problems. Therefore, I find inspiration in projects where the architects — due to all the constraints — had to transform the ordinary into an extraordinary work of architecture. The design process is never linear, so I enjoy everything that happens between point A and point B.

For this project, what was your concept / what is the story behind it?
The title of my thesis project is: “Unveiling the Hidden Stratum: A Recycling Center In Puerto Rico.” Puerto Rico is currently facing a solid waste management crisis. The low recycling rates, the poor solid waste management infrastructure, and most importantly, the lack of education have all contributed to create this problem.

Recycling is an industrial process that is not visible or at least not visible enough. By exposing the process in the heart of San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico, the process then becomes a part of people’s everyday lives which addresses the lack of education.

The project is surrounded by museums, parks, businesses, event spaces, residential areas, and universities. This meant that the scope of the project had to go beyond addressing the lack of education, and the building had to become an asset to the city.

The only way to accomplish this was by reinventing the typology of the recycling center. The resulting typology was derived from combining a park, a gallery, a learning center, and a small recycling factory. I wanted people to experience various degrees of interaction with the materials being recycled in the facility. The gallery portion of the program showcases art made from recycled materials while the walls of the learning center are made of the plastic processed in the factory component of the program. The project is a celebration of circulation; the circulation of materials in the factory, pedestrian circulation in the park and the circulation of the recycling trucks and school buses.

A question that professors often asked was, “Why out of all possible topics, did I choose recycling?” The truth is that I wanted to attempt to solve a national problem through architecture.

I remember I was in 5th grade when I won my first design competition: to design a poster for the new recycling campaign for the municipality of Fajardo, Puerto Rico. After the competition my teacher took me and my classmates to collect trash along the beach. Even though we were very young, we felt responsible for our beach so we didn’t mind being there for a whole day, and we all left with a sense of fulfillment. My hope was that if this project where to ever get built, children would leave with that same feeling.

What else should everyone know?
Lastly, I would like to say that this project is by no means the solution to Puerto Rico’s solid waste management crisis, but a prototype and a potential catalyst for change. Just as my picking up trash on the beach that day was not enough when looking at the big picture. I think that education has to transcend the classroom, and children have to not only read about the problems in their community, but also be physically exposed to them. I personally respond better to an active learning method rather than a passive one. The projects will be on display through December 16, so if you are interested, there is plenty of time to see them.

The What, Where and When

WHAT: Biennial Opening Reception & Annual Back to School Bash

WHEN: Friday, September 16 – Friday, December 16, 2016

WHERE: Architecture Center Houston



Giovanni at the opening reception with Sharon Chapman, one of his undergraduate professors at the University of Houston.


Giovanni presenting his final graduate thesis, titled “Unveiling the Hidden Stratum: A Recycling Center in Puerto Rico.”


Guests enjoying the 2016 Texas Student Biennial Exhibition at the Architecture Center Houston.


Kirksey Video: Inspiring Life

Winston Churchill once famously said, “We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.” Architecture, at its core, is a human element. From hospitals to schools to research labs, Kirksey has been designing captivating spaces for 45 years. These are the spaces that inspire. We are happy to share our new branding video with you.


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Fun “Behind-the-Scene” Facts / “What’s that Project?”

1. Baylor College of Medicine, National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI)

  • Julie Do is the woman in the video. She is the Director of Finance for the Baylor College of Medicine Center for Space Medicine, and the Chief Financial Officer for NSBRI.

2. CHI St. Luke’s The Woodlands Hospital

3. Houston Independent School District, Herod Elementary School

  • The boy in the video is a student at Herod, used with permission.

4. Motiva Enterprises, Downtown Houston. Interiors project.

  • Erin Shedd, AIA, a member of Kirksey’s Hospitality Team, is the star of this clip!

5. Queensbury Theatre, Houston CityCentre

  • A Queensbury actor appears in this clip.

6. Energy Center 3 lobby

7. Petroleum Club of Houston bar & dining room

8. Tellepsen Family Downtown YMCA

9. Texas A&M University, Agriculture & Life Sciences Complex

10. Kirksey office:



Kirksey + Metzger Construction Team Takes Home Golden Bucket at AIA Sandcastle Competition!

For the second year in a row, Kirksey Architecture + Metzger Construction proudly took home the coveted Golden Bucket Award for this year’s AIA Sandcastle Competition in Galveston, Texas on Saturday, August 20th.

This year, the Kirksey + Metzger team did “Finding Gory,” a play on the Disney/Pixar animated sequel to Finding Nemo, complete with Dory, the lovable, but forgetful blue tang fish, but incorporated a wicked, comically dark spin featuring some of Disney’s villains from the sea. The team was also won “Best Team T-Shirt” and “Kidtastic! – Disney Edition,” a new competition category, for their sandcastle creation.

Despite a forecast of rain for the rescheduled 2016 AIA Sandcastle Competition, Mother Nature relented and the teams were able to carve out a successful day of fun in the sun and sand.

“Kirksey has a tradition of putting a twist on our sandcastle theme to help the work stand out from the crowd,” said Cynthia Helms, AIA, Kirksey member. “Sometimes it’s through mixing two contrasting elements together. This year we turned Finding Dory on its tailfin and used the traditional roles of the characters as they would be in the real world to ignite a scene of energy and ‘gore.’”

The team spent hours planning the design, working from a scaled-down-to-size clay model to use as a guide. The day of the competition, the team was divided into separate groups and each conquered their portion of the design.

“It was an amazing team effort, and we always have so much fun working together every year at the AIA Sandcastle Competition,” said Andrew Tyler, Kirksey’s “Sandman,” and Sandcastle team leader.


























All photos by Ruben Serrano.

Downtown Houston Childcare Center Featured in Washington D.C. National Exhibit

The annual exhibit from AIA’s Center for Emerging Professionals (CEP) showcases the most creative new plans, projects, art, and design from architecture and design’s rising generations from around the nation.

Kirksey’s Downtown Houston Childcare Center was selected to be a part of the exhibit at the national AIA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. from now until September.

This year’s theme, It Takes a Community, features the best work from young designers highlighting community impact and engagement.

“It’s great to see a project that impacts the downtown Houston community be highlighted at a national level,” said Michelle Old, AIA, on the design team at Kirksey.

The project — a childcare center in the middle of a busy urban downtown — brings children to the middle of the city, but also brings families and life to its center. It helps collapse the barriers of work, home, and school and dissolves the rigidity of an urban business district. The client wanted to create a home-like, caring atmosphere for its students. The design team consisted of Michelle Old, AIA; Nicola Springer, AIA; Gary Machicek, AIA and Michael La Nasa.

YAF National_1


YAF National_2



Gaining a Green Belt in Lean Six Sigma



Marty Fifer, AIA, now has a few more credentials to add behind his name. Vice President on Kirksey’s Science & Technology team, Marty has achieved Lean Six Sigma certification as a Green Belt. Marty sat down with us to elaborate on his new skills, and what it means to be certified in this practice.

What is Lean Six Sigma?
 In a Nutshell: Removing the Waste
First published in a book titled Lean Six Sigma: Combining Six Sigma with Lean Speed by Michael George and Robert Lawrence Jr., Lean Six Sigma is a methodology that combines a collaborative team effort to improve performance by removing anything of waste. Especially useful in the industrial and manufacturing markets, Lean Six Sigma defines eight different kinds of “waste.” Similar to judo, the program is broken into different belt designations: white belt, yellow belt, green belt, black belt, and master black belt.
1) Time
2) Inventory
3) Motion
4) Waiting
5) Over production
6) Over processing
7) Defects
8) Skills

How is this used in the industrial / manufacturing world?
Lean Six Sigma has become an integral part of the industrial / manufacturing world for the past several years because industry leaders have found that Lean Six Sigma principles lead to: greater customer satisfaction, greater efficiency, safer working environments, and higher employee retention. We integrate these principles into our designs which have already enhanced our clients’ businesses.

How long did it take you to achieve it? What was the process like?
I have been studying these principles for the past five years through my own research in the industrial, manufacturing and healthcare markets and was utilizing many Lean Six Sigma strategies during that time. After seeing its positive results and obtaining positive feedback from our clients, I decided to pursue certification this year. I participated in the University of Houston Lean Six Sigma Green-Belt Course this spring. This course consisted of over 120 hours of instruction time split between on-line courses and in-class courses with a Master Black Belt instructor. The Master Belt Instruction provided case studies and hands-on problem solving exercises in addition to feedback from other industry professionals.

What’s the most interesting thing you learned from this certification?
I was amazed to see the diversity of industries that are utilizing Lean Six Sigma principles which ranged from industrial / manufacturing, health care, hospitality and real estate.

How are you most looking forward to applying this new certification?
We are implementing many Lean Six Sigma principles in our current industrial, automotive and manufacturing projects. We are also working on implementing many of these principles into our daily architectural processes and systems. Based on the feedback from our current clients, these internal enhancements will continue to enhance our clients’ experiences working with Kirksey.

Gulf Coast Green Merges Art with Architecture for Sustainable Design

Gulf Coast Green header1

smART Design: the intersection of art, architecture and sustainability at Gulf Coast Green

Kirksey participated in the 2016 Gulf Coast Green conference, held Thursday, April 28, at the Midtown Arts and Theater Center Houston (MATCH). Hailed as the best one yet, this year’s conference explored how art and the principles of sustainable design can enrich the classic architectural qualities as described by the ancient Roman architect Vitruvius: firmitas, utilitas, and venustas (durability, utility and beauty). Founded by Kirksey 11 years ago, Gulf Coast Green features local and international speakers focused on sustainable design, bringing together like-minded green-building professionals to share creative concepts, knowledge and sustainable building solutions. This year’s keynote speakers were Kai-Uwe Bergmann of BIG Architects out of Copenhagen, Denmark, and Jimmy DiResta, a designer and master maker who has starred on several DIY shows on channels such as HGTV, FX Network and Discovery.  


BIG Architecture - Kai-Uwe Bergmann





This year’s outstanding lineup of session speakers included a member of Kirksey’s PK-12 Education Team. Nicola Springer, AIA, LEED AP, and Education PK-12 Team Leader at Kirksey, discussed Place Making by Painting: Art as a Catalyst for Change, a topic centered around a juvenile rehabilitation center and the painted mural that brought both the artist and students together, resulting in a beautiful group effort and focal point for the building.


Nicola talk1




Nicola talk2


Members of Kirksey’s EcoServices and Education teams heavily participated in this year’s conference:

  • Colley Hodges, AIA, LEED AP, WELL AP, was vice-chair of the conference and co-chair of the speaker committee.
  • Julie Hendricks, AIA, LEED AP, director of EcoServices at Kirksey served as speaker co-chair.
  • Katherine Ruiz, AIA, LEED AP, led the Artist Exhibition, a new component to compliment the art theme for this year, guiding and organizing the exhibition from the beginning. The open call for artists asked them to submit work for a pop-up exhibition that focused on recycled materials, energy efficiency, non-toxic materials and materials reuse.
  • Valeriya Bowker, LEED AP, led and organized the Green Product Showcase, the conference’s vendor exhibit that featured products and systems that turn design ideas into sustainable places to live, work and learn. She also co-organized a competition that awarded a prize to the person who visited the most vendor exhibits.
  • Alfonso Hernandez, LEED AP, co-chaired the Student Competition, a sustainable competition focused on the 5R’s (recycle/reuse/reclaim/restore/repurpose). The student competition had one of its best showings in recent years, with 12 teams competing representing three local schools: the University of Houston, Prairie View A&M, and the Art Institute.
  • Christina Miller, LEED AP, led the Green Event effort, helping to ensure that our event was abiding by zero-waste principles and co-organized the Green Product Expo competition.


Tiny houses

Plastic water bottle wall

Kirksey Wins “Best in Show” at IIDA Product Runway

Kirksey Wins “Best in Show” at Architectural Fashion Event That Gives Back to Community

Rubber flooring and seating textiles were carefully hand-stitched together to create this year’s winning dress for the annual IIDA Product Runway fashion show, held at the Revention Music Center on Friday, April 22.


PR_Kirksey_photo by Corvin Alstot_2


PR_Kirksey_photo by Corvin Alstot_3


Coming together to raise money for a good cause, Houston’s architecture and interior design professionals create fashion from everyday industry materials for artistic runway pieces that help raise funds for the Houston Furniture Bank, a non-profit organization that provides furniture and home goods for families in need.

First Place with an Artistic Interpretation
Kirksey Architecture took home Best in Show for their take on this year’s “Avant Art” theme. The Kirksey team was assigned Modernism with Georgia O’Keefe as the inspiration artist for their category, and created a colorful dress, reminiscent of the painter’s abstraction of flowers.

“We started with an original sketch and worked more than 150 man-hours around-the-clock in just three weeks to create the dress,” said Laura Vargas, a member of Kirksey’s Science & Technology team. “We are so proud of our entire team – it was definitely a group project.”

PR_Kirksey sketch


PR_Kirksey working on dress

The dress, weighing in at 50 pounds, was created using over 800 rubber tiles donated by Expanko rubber flooring that were individually hand-cut and hand-sewn. The fabric, provided by Humanscale, was originally white vinyl, but was hand-dyed to achieve the exact, desired color.

The collar of the dress was made entirely of rubber flooring and lined with 6-gauge copper wire to provide structure and form. More than 120 triangles had to be cut and sewn to create the blue cone shapes on the skirt of the dress.

“We are so lucky that Kirksey is committed to design in such a way that we’re able to give back to the community and contribute our design efforts for a good cause,” said Michelle Old, a member of Kirksey’s design team.

Fun Facts About the Dress
• Over 800 rubber tiles were individually hand-cut and hand-sewn to the dress.
• The fabric was originally white vinyl and was hand-dyed to the exact, desired color.
• The collar is made entirely of rubber flooring and lined with 6-gauge copper wire to give it structure and form.
• 120 triangles had to be cut and sewn to create the blue cone shapes on the skirt of the dress.
• It took approximately 7 minutes to sew on each tile.
• The dress weighs 50 pounds.
• Over 150 man-hours working around-the-clock in just three weeks were spent making the dress.

PR_Kirksey group photo 2016


PR_Kirksey_photo by Corvin Alstot_1

Colley Hodges Among Nation’s First WELL Accredited Professionals

We are proud to announce that Colley Hodges, AIA and LEED AP, is the firm’s first WELL Accredited Professional and one of the first in the country to be awarded the credential through the Green Business Certification, Inc. (GBCI).

Colley_WELL AP

What is WELL?

WELL is a performance-based standard focused on features of the built environment that impact human health and well-being. The WELL Building Standard consists of designing toward, measuring, and monitoring performance thresholds in seven categories of wellness: air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind.



A Long, But Dedicated Road

Becoming a WELL Accredited Professional involves passing the WELL AP exam and “signifies extensive knowledge of human health and wellness in the built environment,” according to the GBCI. Candidates must be well-versed in the WELL Building Standard v1, the WELL Certification Guidebook, and other resources.

But what made the achievement even more impressive is that Colley passed the exam with a newborn daughter (his second) born only 10 weeks before the exam date.

“It was a detail-oriented exam. I had a decent base of knowledge going into studying because I have been working on this topic at Kirksey for some time, but there was still a lot of material to cover” Colley said. “Work and family makes it tough to find time to study – especially with a newborn and a toddler at home – but I knew this would be an important step for our firm.”

Colley’s interest in becoming a WELL AP was no surprise, given that Kirksey has been dedicated to healthy building since the firm was founded. Kirksey’s EcoServices team has always been at the forefront of major trends in sustainable design, having established the Houston chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council and is responsible for a number of LEED firsts, including Houston’s first LEED Certified building.

Hopes are high that with a WELL AP on staff, Kirksey will soon have its first WELL certified project. According to the International Well Building Institute, there are currently five projects pursuing WELL in Texas, only one of which is in Houston.

“Colley’s achievement is a key milestone in our development of health and wellness expertise,” said Julie Hendricks, AIA and LEED AP, vice president and director of Kirksey’s EcoServices team. “It has the potential to open some doors in this growing trend in sustainable design and architecture in general.”


Kirksey Presents at A4LE IMPACT Southern Regional Conference

Kirksey is proud to present at the recently re-named A4LE (formerly CEFPI) regional conference in Houston on Saturday, April 16, 2016.

The Association for Learning Environments (A4LE) holds a regional conference every year. The non-profit organization strives to improve the places where children learn and serves as a resource for effective educational facilities. This year’s conference, IMPACT: Great Schools | Successful Students | Strong Communities, will be held at the JW Marriot in Houston and features four Kirksey speakers who are passionate about designing 21st century PK-12 learning environments.

Kirksey’s speakers include:

P_131126_N80_photopageNicola Springer, AIA, LEED AP
Vice President at Kirksey
PK-12 Education Team Leader

Nicola is passionate about education design and has made it the focus of her career for the past 15 years. Committed to designing schools that create healthy, positive environments, Nicola is a resource to Kirksey for 21st century learning and on the forefront of educational design. She has received several AIA Houston Chapter Design awards for her education projects and was the 2009 recipient of the AIA Houston Ben Brewer Young Architect of the Year Award.



P_131213_N17_photopageJulie Hendricks, AIA, LEED AP BD+C
Vice President at Kirksey
EcoServices Team Leader

As Kirksey’s EcoServices Team Leader, Julie is on the forefront of sustainable design. She has managed the LEED process for over 50 projects, totaling more than 5 million square feet. In 2012, she was the recipient of the AIA Houston Ben Brewer Young Architect of the Year Award. She has worked on indoor air quality and sustainable site-related issues for more than ten years. She currently serves on the USGBC Sustainable Sites Technical Advisory Committee.



P_131126_N20_photopageColley Hodges, AIA, LEED AP, WELL AP
EcoServices Team Member

Colley has administered the LEED certification of more than 2.5 million square feet for Kirksey’s diverse portfolio. He is a co-facilitator of Kirksey’s post-occupancy evaluations, a survey process Kirksey uses to determine the efficiency and effectiveness of a building once it’s finished and occupied. Colley regularly publishes and delivers presentations on topics such as climate-responsive design, building performance, and material health. His work in achieving Pilot Credit 45: Site Assessment is featured on the USGBC’s website as a guide to assist teams in achieving the LEED v4 Site Assessment credit, and most notably, he recently became one of the first WELL Accredited Professionals in the country.



P_131126_N45_photopageJody Henry, LEED AP
PK-12 Education Team Member

Jody brings more than 15 years of experience to Kirksey’s PK-12 education design, and has assisted on over 1 million square feet of education design in the greater Houston area. In 2011, she was named a Houston Green Hero by the USGBC and has spoken nationally on the benefits of “green” schools. Her passion for education design and 21st century learning is evident in the projects she manages – she is inspired to design facilities so that every child has a healthy and sustainable learning environment.


The topics Kirksey will present on include:

Better Than Platinum – The Healing Power of Play


  • Nicola Springer, PK-12 Education Team Leader
  • Jody Henry, PK-12 Education Team Associate

Summary: The Construction of a gymnasium building brings together a diversity of groups with a shared focus, with a mission to provide a building that teaches, inspires, one that is smart, that is healthy and has the potential to transform. This presentation will review the process of designing and building a multipurpose gym for a juvenile probation department. It shows the process and the importance of engaging the stakeholders at the early stages of design, and illustrates how these ideas were incorporated into the design solution. The building is seeking LEED platinum, and it will show the elements and the strategies incorporated to achieve that rating. The presentation will also show how volunteer programs are incorporated into the design as a part of the therapy for the young men, and how maximum security does not have to mean minimum design.

Demystifying Integrated Site Design


  • Julie Hendricks, EcoServices Team Leader
  • Nicola Springer, PK-12 Education Team Leader
  • Colley Hodges, EcoServices Team Member

Summary: Though integrated design is often discussed, it is implemented far more rarely. LEED v4, the green building rating system’s newest version, aims to ensure integrated site design through the collection of comprehensive site information during early design. What difference will that make? In this presentation, Kirksey will answer this question by presenting case studies, identifying helpful tools, and using iterative design charrettes.