Kennedy & Violich Architecture, Ltd.


Sheila Kennedy FAIA | Principal

Sheila Kennedy received her Bachelor's Degree in history, philosophy and literature from the College of Letters at Wesleyan University. Kennedy studied architecture at the Ecole National Supérieure des Beaux Arts in Paris and received the Masters of Architecture from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University where she won the SOM National Traveling Fellowship and was graduated with Distinction, the School's highest academic honor. As Associate Professor at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, Kennedy was Director of the M Arch II Program from 1991-1995 and is currently Professor of the Practice of Architecture at MIT.

As a Principal of Kennedy & Violich Architecture Ltd. (KVA), over 15 years Sheila Kennedy has established an internationally recognized design practice that explores architecture, digital technology and emerging public needs. Designated as one of Fast Company’s Masters of Design, Kennedy is described as an “insightful and original thinker who is designing new ways of working, learning, leading and innovating”. Kennedy's creative problem definiton, concept creation strategy for clients, WHAT SHE DOES directs MATx, the materials research unit at KVA. MATx works collaboratively with business leaders, manufacturers, cultural institutions and public agencies to apply creative production across the fields of design, electronics, architecture and material science. MATx has developed designs and technology applications for Dupont, Siemens, Osram, Herman Miller, Saint-Gobain, The North Face, the City of Porto in Portugal, the Federal Republic of Germany and the United States Department of Energy. The MATx Portable Light Project, a non-profit global initiative that enables people in the developing world to create and own portable energy harvesting solar textile kits has been recognized with a 2012 Energy Globe Award, 2009 US Congressional Award, a 2009 Energy Globe Award and a 2008 Tech Museum Laureate Award for technology that benefits humanity.

Kennedy's work has been exhibited at the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, the International Rotterdam Biennale, the Vitra Design Museum in Germany, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SF MoMA), and the Museum of Modern Art's (MoMA) “Design & the Elastic Mind” exhibition on breakthrough designs for new technologies. Kennedy has served as an advisor to the United States Department of Energy, the National Academy of Sciences' Government-Industry Partnerships, and the Vision 2020 National Technology Roadmap. She is the author of multiple patents for the integration of digital technologies into architecture, building materials and textiles. Kennedy's research and work in architecture have been recognized by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Academy of Sciences.

MATx works collaboratively with business leaders, manufacturers, cultural institutions and public agencies to create designs that advance the integration of new and traditional materials and material fabrication techniques in architecture

In 1990, she founded Kennedy & Violich Architecture (KVA MATx) in partnership with Juan Frano Violich.


J. Frano Violich FAIA | Principal

Born in San Francisco, California, Frano Violich grew up in a bi-lingual family with strong ties to Venezuela and South America. Violich received his Bachelor's degree in Architecture at the University of California at Berkeley, and received the Masters of Architecture from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University where he was graduated with Distinction, the School's highest academic honor. Frano Violich received Harvard University's Julia Appleton Travelling Fellowship Award and studied the fusion of traditional construction and contemporary design in Japan. In 1990, he founded Kennedy & Violich Architecture (KVA MATx) in partnership with Sheila Kennedy.

As a Founding Principal at KVA MATx, Frano Violich has created an interdisciplinary design practice which engages material fabrication, digital technology and the conservation of natural resources to expand the public life of buildings and cities. Violich has directed the winning competition projects for the University of Pennsylvania Law School, now under construction, the Clemson School of Architecture Charleston, and the Internationale Bauaustellung's (IBA) Smart Materials Housing Program in Hamburg, Germany (construction 2012). He was a co-recipient of the Emerging Architects Award and Young Architects Award from the Architectural League of New York with his partner Sheila Kennedy and has had his work exhibited at the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, the International Rotterdam Biennale, the Vitra Design Museum in Germany, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SF MoMA), and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City.

In addition to his work at KVA MATx, Violich has held private shows at MassMoca in North Adams, MA, the Max Protech Gallery in New York City, NY, the Phillip Bonafont Gallery in San Francisco, CA, and his work is in the permanent collection of the Museo de Arte Contemporanea in Merida, Mexico. Violich has been a lecturer and keynote speaker at several international conferences including the Centro Metropolitana de Diseno Conference, Buenos Aires, Argentina, the 2008 Plastics Electronics Conference, in Berlin, Germany, the Royal Australian Institute of Architecture in Sydney, Australia, the 2008 World Sustainability Conference in Melbourne, Australia, the Society for College & University Planners in Montreal, CA, and this Fall will address the 2010 Design & Innovations Conference in Sao Paolo, Brazil. Violich has served on design thesis reviews at the University of Toronto, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Rhode Island School of Design, Harvard's Graduate School of Design, and the University of California at Berkeley.

Frano Violich has served as Design Commissioner of the Boston Society of Architects and is Chair of the Executive Committee for the Design and Industry Group of Massachusetts (DIGMA) working with leaders in government, business, and education to advance design as an integral part of the Massachusetts innovation economy. He has taught on the faculty of the Rhode Island School of Design, and has been a Freidman Visiting Professor Chair at the University of California, Berkeley, the Shur Visiting Professorship at the University of Virginia, and the Saarinen Professorship for Distinguished Practitioners of Architecture at the University of Michigan. Elevated to the American Institute of Architects National College of Fellows in 2008, Violich is a registered Architect of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the State of New York, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the State of Rhode Island.


Shawna M Meyer AIA, LEED AP | Senior Associate

Shawna Meyer, AIA joined KVA in 2014 with eight years of experience in professional practice. After studying languages and design in Mexico and Italy, Shawna received her Master’s Degree in Architecture with honors from the University of Minnesota College of Design. Raised in the Ozarks of Southern Missouri, Shawna brings an independent spirit of inquiry to design projects at KVA, with a focus on material ecology, building assemblies and the evolving dialogue between architecture, culture and an environment in flux. Shawna advances KVA’s mission to integrate research through the practice of architecture. Shawna is a co-author of Pamphlet Architecture 36; a publication that explores strategies for architectural agency in four global contexts of climate change. Shawna lectures on connections between research and practice and presents projects and papers at national and international conferences.

As a Project Architect at KVA, Shawna provides leadership on complex architecture and urban projects through a focus on collaborative discovery and design research based on interdisciplinary collaboration. Working at a range of scales, Shawna has implemented new project delivery models for architecture that integrate locally sourced materials and scalable approaches to digital fabrication.

Shawna has contributed to the design and construction coordination of KVA’s new Data Sciences building at the University of Rochester and the design of bio-sourced phase changing materials for leading textile manufacturers in France. Shawna’s projects at KVA include the design of the USA Headquarters for Meister Consulting Group, an international clean energy firm based in Germany, the project for the Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe Institute, the new BGLTQ Student Center at Harvard University and the Global Flora project, an interdisciplinary botanical research at Wellesley College, to be constructed in 2018 under the framework of the Living Building Challenge process, one of the most advanced measure of ecological design. Shawna’s work on material research and building projects at KVA have been recognized through national and international awards and publications.


Ben Widger AIA | Associate

Ben Widger, AIA is a registered Architect, Project Manager and designer and a sustainable strategy specialist at KVA. Ben joined KVA in 2012 with an extensive background in structural and civil engineering. Ben holds a Bachelors of Science in Structural Engineering from Cornell University College of Engineering, where he was graduated Magna Cum Laude. Ben received his Masters of Architecture from Cornell University’s College of Architecture, Art & Planning.

Ben is a Renaissance Man who brings his interdisciplinary skill set in architectural design, public outreach, structural engineering and fabrication, with a focus on low-carbon design. Ben’s independent work includes taking apart (and putting together) an experimental automobile for the “Unpacking the Nano” exhibition which he helped design and install at the Johnson Museum of Art. With the “Circus for Architecture” project, Ben and his team designed and built a custom fit out to transform a truck into a travelling exhibition for architecture. At KVA, Ben was the lead designer on the Forsyth Engineering Building for Northeastern University, was instrumental in the design of the Data Sciences Labs at the University of Rochester and designed advanced urban manufacturing workshops for the new headquarters of the North Bennet Street School, an internationally recognized craft school in Boston’ North End. Ben is currently Project Manager overseeing site supervision for the Chrysanthemum Building, an innovative all-wood mixed-use residential development in downtown Boston which received an international 2014 Holcim Award for Sustainable Design in North America. Ben is lead architect for Quincy’s new Market Square Development currently in design and for several of KVA’s clean energy projects in Melbourne, Australia.


Alex Shelly AIA | Associate

Alex Shelly, AIA is an Associate at KVA, where he has collaborated with the firm since 2011. Alex holds a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from Lehigh University and a Master of Architecture from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Alex has five years of experience with design, planning, and construction management for University projects in New York and Massachusetts. At KVA, Alex is a design and digital fabrication leader who directs the management of advanced building projects at KVA. Alex oversees the operation of KVA’s CNC Router and supervises project workflow in KVA’s suite of in-house prototyping workshops.

Alex has worked on the design team for KVA’s self-structuring Bent Wood Vault, recognized by Architizer + for Design Excellence in Digital Fabrication, and the Soft House, a work/live project for sustainable urban living in Hamburg, Germany. Alex has led the design and detailing of the light well at the Tozzer Anthropology Building at Harvard University and the exterior envelope detailing for the Chrysanthemum Building in Boston, an innovative residential development that received a 2014 North American Design Award from the Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction. Alex was the lead Designer and Project Architect for the University of Rochester’s new Institute for Data Sciences, a 60,000 SF interdisciplinary research lab that won first place in a national design competition and is on schedule to be completed in 2017.


Patricia D. Gruits Portable Light Project Leader

Patricia D. Gruits, LEED AP, leads design initiatives for the Portable Light Project. Established by KVA MATx, the Portable Light Project is an internationally recognized global initiative for mobile, renewable light and clean energy in the developing world. Please see for more information.

Patricia Gruits received her Master's in Architecture from the University of Michigan, where she received the Taubman School Thesis Award for her project on architecture and weaving tectonics. Patricia joined KVA MATx in 2006, after two years of professional practice in Michigan where she focused on the design of schools. At KVA, Patricia has developed her experience in design innovation and programming for school and university facilities, as well as her design expertise working with high performance materials and emergent non-extractive, nature-based materials in architecture. As a Portable Light Project Design Leader at KVA, Patricia Gruits has organized on-site community training programs and has lead the integration design team for projects in Mexico, South Africa, Nicaragua, and Haiti. Patricia leads the design team for Luz Portatil Brasil, working with isolated river communities in Brazil’s Amazon.

Patricia has contributed to KVA's material research and design initiatives across a range of scales. Her work on KVA design teams includes the brick façades at the U Penn Law School, the New York City East River Ferry Project (Progressive Architecture Award, NYC Municipal Art Commission Award for Design Excellence) and the Soft House project, (AIA Research Award, First Prize IBA Smart Materials Housing, Germany). As Project Manager at KVA, Patricia Gruits has led the design of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra Pavilion and the expansion of the Beaver School in Massachusetts. Patricia’s work has been featured in journals of architecture and design as well as on BBC World News. Ms. Gruits lectures and participates actively in public symposia on sustainable material practices and design innovation. She has served on design juries at MIT, RISD and the University of Michigan and is currently on the faculty of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).