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Anderson Kenny

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Architecture from the Outside In

There’s more than meets the eye with this firm, including a modern approach to design and passion for philanthropy.

What makes Anderson Kenny Architecture unique?

Anderson Kenny Architecture is a full-service practice that encompasses a range of commissioned residential and commercial projects and we consider architecture a dialogue between art and science. Each project is a thoughtfully edited collaboration tailored specifically to the client. Our process of planning involves navigating the municipalities and designing from the inside out and then the outside in – it’s an ebb and flow process like a tidal wave, not just one direction – as well as proportion, detailing and the long view.  An ideal project for us is going to be around for decades, not years like furniture. These items have a shelf life for good reason, however, we look at our projects as heirlooms, heritage pieces and things that will outlast us in order to make an impact on the fabric of the community in which we are building long after us.

Tell us about your background.

I grew up in Nashville and received my architecture degree from the University of Tennessee after some encouragement from the Dean of Architecture who took an interest in my work. I ended up coming to Connecticut 20 years ago to work for Centerbrook Architects in Essex, as they were doing some very interesting things at the time in green design. Shortly after, I met my wife at a party while she was literally choking on a hamburger. I gave her the Heimlich and we’ve been together ever since! She eventually convinced me to move to NYC where I worked for Michael Graves, Peter Marino and Victoria Hagen before launching my own firm eight years ago. Anderson Kenny Architecture embodies a charismatic approach to the art of architecture and we have a passion for informed details expressed through a portfolio of rich minimalism, classic proportions and enduring elegance.

What type of experience do you bring to Anderson Kenny Architecture?

In addition to my undergraduate studies, I attended business school at Yale for a very specific reason – to be more efficient at managing time and money in order to better service our clients. Every client has a budget and a schedule. It doesn’t matter if your net worth is $1M or $10B, everyone is concerned about the bottom line. In my experience, the wealthier the client, the more aware they are of money and time as it’s extremely valuable to them.  While at Yale, I also focused on the business of sustainability. The next big push for our firm is to leverage new, green technologies and practices to help our clients make their investments socially and economically more appreciated. Fossil fuels and unsustainable building practices could expose our clients in the future to liability. The more that we can think about how best to build with the environment, the less risk we put on our client’s properties in the future.

How have you built confidence over the course of your career?

Confidence is the result of resiliency. Resiliency is built by looking at business as an ecosystem. In architecture school, we were taught the Miesian mindset that ‘less is more’; searching for ways to distill work down to its essence to get closer to truth, poetry and grace. I have learned to lean into the complicated, messy structure of a problem and make things simpler, which became the reality of what we do in architecture typically isn’t. We balance aesthetic with function. We ask the tough, intimate questions and adjust successes and failures. If we aren’t constantly evolving as a firm every day, then we are dying.

What is the best part of your job?

The best part is the connection. That moment when you know that you’ve reached a team member, an employee, a colleague or a client. It’s that idea, detail or rare master plan that has been steeping in your brain. At some point, it clicks and your audience goes, “Ohhh, I get it.” We may not save lives like a first responder or surgeon, but as architects, we try to help people live fuller lives.

What does success mean to you?

Success is that note out of the blue from an old client that says, “I come home every day and it makes me happy because of what you designed.” I am a firm believer that we all have been given unique talents. The more that I can use those talents to help others – as opposed to burying them – the more successful I am.

What are your tips for growing your business?

Growing my business is directly related to the treatment of my team. It goes back to the ecosystem analogy of resiliency. A good team that is happy, has trust in the organization and feels valued and heard with diverse points of view is the greatest asset a company can have. Without that asset, it would be impossible to lead, guide and scale a business toward success. Additionally, the long view is important. We pursue projects that will hopefully outlast a timeline. Architecture is not a get-rich-quick scheme. It is hard work over a period of time, failures and successes. It requires patience and sustainable growth is being motivated by the idea that some of the trees planted today won’t provide shade until after you’re gone.

Tell us something we don’t know about you.

I recently returned from a trip to Cuba with a Norwalk-based group called Full Court Peace. Our mission is to go to impoverished areas to repair and restore public ball courts and fields that have a lot of deferred maintenance. It’s extremely rewarding and allows me the opportunity to be creative and philanthropic at the same time.

Where can we find you?

My wife, son, daughter, rescue mutt, and I reside in New Canaan. Anderson Kenny Architecture has offices in New York and Greenwich, and you can visit www.andersonkenny.com for more information, as well as a portfolio of our work.

  • Anderson Kenny