Andrew J. Kesel, is a designer and project manager with HJM Architects Inc., an architecture firm based in Kansas City, MO. Kesel has been recognized for his work on the Lyric Opera of Kansas City—Richard J. Stern Center, a project that emerged from a napkin design into an environmentally responsible, positive user experience.

This project further acknowledged Keselwitha Monsters of Design award and a Capstone award.  The lobby/waiting ceiling he designed for Lyric Opera of Kansas City—Richard J. Stern Center was featured as an Armstrong Advertisement in many prominent magazines.  Prior to moving to Kansas City where his career in architecture launched with an internship at Klover Architects, Kesel studied at Drury University with a specialization in design.

RecentlyW&C sat down to talk to Andrew about his career.


W&C Architect: How many years do you have in the profession?

Kesel: Nine years.

W&C Architect: What is your work history in this field?

Kesel: From 2005-2007 I worked with Klover Architects as an Architecture Staff as an intern. From 2007-2011 I then worked with Rafael Architects and served as Project Leader.  Since 2011, I now work with HJM Architects as a Designer/Project Manager.

W&C Architect: Where did you go to school?

Kesel: I went to Drury University and specialized in commercial design.

W&C Architect: Do you approach architecture from an artistic or functional starting point? Are the two concepts exclusive?

Kesel: I believe they go hand in hand.  It’s like peanut butter and jelly.  Hard to have one without the other.  I believe our ultimate goal as architects and designers is to create a positive experience for the user while being environmentally responsible. By no means are the two concepts exclusive.

W&C Architect: If any, who are your role models?

Kesel: First and foremost, my mother and father.  My father was a tool and die maker for the majority of his life and I was always at his side while he was tinker with something at his work bench.  I think that’s where I got my affinity for how things go together.  My mother was my encouragement.  Always making me strive for better.

W&C Architect: What projects, other than your own work, do you find inspiring?

Kesel: I’m a huge fan of Marcel Breuer.  His modernist aesthetic and attention to scale is fascinating.  His Snower Residence in Kansas City is beautiful.

W&C Architect: How many buildings have you designed?

Kesel: I’ve designed—or been intimately involved in the design of—6 buildings.

W&C Architect: If you had to choose one to represent your work, what project would you choose?

Kesel: Lyric Opera of Kansas City – Richard J. Stern Center. This was the first project I co-designed/managed at HJM Architects.  The president of our company came to me with the original napkin design and told me to run with it, so that’s what I did.   We actually won 2 awards for this design.  A Monsters of Design award and a Capstone award.  The lobby/waiting ceiling I designed was featured as an Armstrong Advertisement in many prominent magazines. 

W&C Architect: What are your guiding principles when designing a structure?

Kesel: I always want to create a positive user experience, whether it’s a guest to the project or an everyday user.  Being sensitive to the environmental impact of the project as we try to lessen our carbon footprint is also very important.  And, scale.  I think this is a principle that has been lost in the design of newer buildings.  The scale transition from public to semi-public to private can make or break a project.

W&C Architect: If you could have any building to redesign—anywhere in the world—which would you like to address?

Kesel: Wow, this is a tough question.  I’m a big advocate of keeping the original designer’s intent in mind in any of our renovation projects.  Being a baseball fan, give me Wrigley Field.  By no way does this mean I’m a Cubs fan.  Go Cardinals!

W&C Architect: What types of products interest you?

Kesel: Being in the design field, new and innovative products are always being thrust upon us.  The new innovations in building envelopes and other exterior cladding intrigue me. 

W&C Architect: What types of products in the wall and ceiling industry really interest you?

Kesel: I recently read an article about a glass photovoltaic system that tracks the sun across the sky, collecting both heat and light energy.  Using that as a wall or screen system would be pretty awesome.  As for ceilings, I love any product that pushes the creativity of the designer.