The DLR Group Board of Directors has announced it has selected Steven McKay, RIBA, as chief executive officer for the firm, effective October 1, 2022, corresponding with the firm’s 2023 Fiscal Year. He succeeds Griff Davenport, FAIA, who remains a managing principal and chairman of the board of directors. McKay is also a managing principal and currently serves as chief design officer for DLR Group. He is the fourth executive leader for DLR Group since its founding in 1966.
“Steven McKay is uniquely qualified to guide our 100% employee-owned firm in fulfilling our promise to elevate the human experience through design,” said Davenport.
“Steven is a vocal advocate for sustainability in our industry, and a leader who creates career opportunities for people,” Davenport continued. “He has practiced internationally and is an inspiring leader with a clear vision for the next iteration of DLR Group’s growth.”
A native of Scotland, McKay received a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies and a Bachelor of Architecture from Strathclyde University in Glasgow and practiced in Glasgow and Jamaica before joining DLR Group in Seattle in 1996. McKay has led the firm’s practice of integrated design since 2002, focusing the firm on the value of design excellence within an integrated design culture. He was instrumental in founding and developing the firm’s corporate practice entailing Mixed-Use, Retail, and Workplace.
In 2013, he helped establish DLR Group’s office in Shanghai, China and collaborated with Architecture 2030 founder Edward Mazria on the development of the China Accord to guide the design and delivery of buildings and entire communities to carbon neutral standards. In 2017, he established a dedicated Research + Design Studio to set the firm on a path to prove its design impact through evidence-based design. Over the past 24-months he has directed a multidisciplinary team to refine and redefine DLR Group’s integrated design process to deliver sustainable, resilient design for clients around the world.
“We have industry-leading design talent in our client sectors, disciplines, services, and leading our offices around the world. Working together, we will continue to grow the DLR Group design brand and create value for our employee-owners by focusing on projects of significance, career opportunities for our people, and high performance in all aspects of our business of design,” McKay said.
The announcement is the culmination of a strategic plan initiated by the DLR Group Board of Directors in 2018 to identify and select the firm’s next CEO. Davenport is maintaining an active role in the firm. He remains a member of the executive team, continues to serve as chair of the board of directors, fills a lead role in evaluating firms for future merger and acquisition, and represents DLR Group as Chair of the AIA Large Firm Roundtable.
Assuming the role of CEO in October 2013, Davenport has guided DLR Group through a period of unprecedented growth. During the past seven years, the firm has grown revenues more than 200% from $130 million to $330 million, increased staff count by 113%, nearly doubled office locations from 17 to 30, and grown the value of DLR Group stock for employee-owner-shareholders by 195%.
“The DLR Group model of employee-ownership is unique in its ability to nurture a culture of high performance that delivers unique value for clients,” said McKay. “I’ve had the good fortune to learn from Griff and many outstanding mentors in our firm. I am excited to work with our leadership and build on our current success to grow an increasingly diverse firm that engages and impacts our clients, our communities, and our planet.”