2020—Stephen Kieran and James Timberlake

Photo of Stephen Kieran and James Timberlake
Partners of KieranTimberlake architecture firm

Stephen Kieran and James Timberlake are partners of the internationally acclaimed architecture firm KieranTimberlake, noted for exemplary design focused on sustainability and research to advance the value of architecture and expand the role of the architect. Both partners received their Master of Architecture degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, where they have recently taught.

Founded in 1984, KieranTimberlake pushes the boundaries of current norms for design and construction. As designers, researchers, and thinkers, Kieran and Timberlake’s architecture embraces innovative design methodologies, a commitment to full-scale, in-house prototyping, and a collaborative ethos to create and realize works of ambitious scope and complexity. They are pioneers of building information modeling and environmental analysis tools and have set a paradigm for transdisciplinary practice, focusing on collaboration with other industries, thus shifting the expectations of the role of the architect. Examples of their work include the Loblolly House, an off-site fabricated home in the Chesapeake Bay; SmartWrap™, a mass-customizable building envelope exhibited at the Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum; Cellophane House™, a fully recyclable, energy-gathering dwelling exhibited at The Museum of Modern Art in New York; and the Embassy of the United States in London, which employs strategies to significantly reduce energy consumption and sets an agenda to achieve carbon neutrality. They have also built projects on the campuses of Harvard, Yale, Wellesley College, Washington University in St. Louis, Brown, and the University of California, Santa Barbara.

KieranTimberlake begins every design project with a thorough investigation of the site, including climate data, ecology, technological strategies, and local resources in order to generate an understanding of unique environmental considerations and to create a basis for holistic architectural design. For instance, KieranTimberlake pioneered new building materials and prefabrication systems for affordable housing in Ahmedabad, India where water is scarce and time is of the essence for an ever-growing population. Using lightweight aggregate, the precast panels are formed quickly onsite and erected without cranes. For the Cellophane House, KieranTimberlake developed an offsite construction system with interchangeable parts fabricated from sustainable and reusable materials. The building skin, SmartWrap™, uses emerging technology to create a building envelope that integrates all the functions of a conventional wall into a thin transparent film that includes phase change materials to moderate temperature. Their design process calls for assessing multiple outcomes by employing a range of tools, often developing specific simulation tools targeted to meeting project goals. They have also developed sensors to monitor sites and existing buildings to diagnose and improve building performance.

KieranTimberlake has received over 200 design awards and citations, including the Firm Award from the American Institute of Architects in 2008 and the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award for Architecture from the Smithsonian Institution in 2010. Since 2002, they have co-authored seven books on architecture, including the influential book refabricating Architecture (McGraw Hill, 2003) and their newest monograph KieranTimberlake: Fullness (Monacelli Press, 2019).