Our story started in 1980 with a belief in living places created by the harmonious union between human activity, nature, and built space. From the beginning, co-founders Tom and Allen made this one of the core values of our practice. Over the four decades that followed, the firm grew, attracting like-minded clients and employees, while creating a body of site-sensitive, environmentally responsible, community-enriching buildings.
Since those early days, a philosophy of Wholeness has been at the heart of every decision—from the projects we undertook, to the people we hired, to the way we managed our operations. Our commitment to socially and environmentally responsible practice led us to restate our Articles of Incorporation in 2018, becoming the first design firm to be a Wisconsin Public Benefit Corporation.
With feet planted firmly in both practice and advocacy, TKWA continues to expand its influence and thought leadership through built work, public policy, and research. This is more important than ever, given the rapid expansion of the built environment and its effect on global climate change and human health. While much of the profession is focused on style-based iconic gestures, it is more important than ever for architects to argue for architecture as part of interdependent living systems.
Allen and Tom’s philosophy of collaboration, meticulous design, humility, and reverence for the natural world inspired a new generation of architects to take up their legacy. In 2016, the co-founders entrusted the studio to five partners. The new ownership team is drawn from a deep well of talent, expertise, and experience at TKWA. Collectively, this group represents the ideals, philosophy, and breadth of practice that Tom and Allen envisioned when they started the firm 40 years ago. This larger group of partners is helping expand TKWA’s impact locally, nationally, and globally through thoughtful design.
2017 saw the formation of two new office locations: UrbanLab & PacificStudio. UrbanLab was strategically created in Walker’s Point, a thriving Milwaukee neighborhood undergoing a vibrant transformation and has a mission to make the public realm a place that works for all people. PacificStudio has a unique focus on residential and commercial architecture in the Pacific Northwest as well as major educational facilities in China.