KieranTimberlake has been named to Fast Company magazine's prestigious annual list of the World's Most Innovative Companies for 2020. The list honors the businesses making the most profound impact on both industry and culture, showcasing a variety of ways to thrive in today's fast-changing world.
“Innovation and invention have driven us ever since we started KieranTimberlake over thirty-five years ago. We invent software, innovate in material science, and lead in sustainability and carbon reduction, all while exploring form and design in architecture,” says Partner James Timberlake. “We are thrilled to be recognized by Fast Company for our work in all of those areas.”
James Timberlake and co-founder Stephen Kieran credit the firm's inquisitiveness and interdisciplinary team with its ability to solve complex design problems.
“Innovation springs from our projects,” says Kieran. “Our core practice is making architecture, developing plans, urban designs, interiors—and we look at the complexity in every project to generate new ways of solving problems. Often, in order to solve a problem, we develop new tools internally, then share them with the industry.”
Since establishing the firm in 1984, they've added four partners and consciously assembled a 100-person team with backgrounds in architecture, environmental management, materials science, climate analysis, software development, design computation, graphic design, and more.
The firm's recent projects include a massive transformation of the east end of the Washington University campus in St. Louis, a new multi-purpose building for New York University in Manhattan, an expansion of the historic Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., among other projects throughout North America. KieranTimberlake's design for the US Embassy in London, which opened in 2018, recently received a Civic Trust Award from Europe's longest-standing built environment award organization.
KieranTimberlake is a forerunner in the movement to quantify and reduce embodied carbon in buildings. In 2013, KieranTimberlake's affiliate company KT Innovations released Tally, a Revit plugin that makes Life Cycle Assessment practices accessible to building professionals. This year, they joined the Carbon Leadership Forum, Skanska USA, and industry partners to create the Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator (EC3), an open-source tool that allows building professionals to compare the embodied carbon of different construction materials and make selections that reduce those emissions.
In 2019, KT Innovations launched Roast, a comfort survey application that enables post-occupancy study of how occupants feel inside a building. Currently, Roast's broadest appeal is to human resources professionals, building owners, and facility managers looking to assess, manage, and improve comfort inside the workplace. The firm also recently announced OpenHome, a new system for constructing customizable prefab homes, created in collaboration with Bensonwood and Lake|Flato. With OpenHome, the partners aim to strengthen ties between the architect and the builder, offering homebuyers an easier and faster design-build experience with higher quality construction.
“We're not interested in novelty for its own sake,” says Kieran. “We're interested in innovation in the truest sense, which is not about new and different, but game-changing. For KieranTimberlake, innovation goes beyond a single project, and has impacts that resonate across our industry and world beyond.”
The World's Most Innovative Companies issue is one of Fast Company's most highly anticipated editorial efforts of the year. It provides both a snapshot and a road map for the future of innovation across the most dynamic sectors of the economy.