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September 30, 2022

DLR Group welcomes new CEO

A/E Editor

Photo by James Ewing/JBSA [enlarge]
DLR Group’s recently completed renovation and restoration of the historic Portland Building is one project that McKay is particularly proud of.

Seattle-based Steven McKay was recently named the new chief executive officer for DLR Group. Mckay, who joined the integrated design firm's Seattle office in 1996, doesn't like to talk about trends in the industry and is instead focused on legacies.

Some of the legacies he aims to build on during his tenure are a commitment to sustainable projects (especially more mass timber construction), a focus on equitable design work and practices, taking a holistic approach to design that centers the creation and protection of community and occupant health and wellness, and being at the vanguard of new and emerging design technologies and tools.

McKay shared his excitement to be taking the helm at a time when many projects which are driven by these values are now getting built.


“I feel that in recent years there has been a real shift in the industry where the burden on architects and designers has shifted from one of trust to one of proof,” McKay said. “When I started out we would ask clients to trust us with their projects, now, from the outset we need to prove that the project will achieve the clients goals and perhaps more importantly that it will do some good,” he continued.

McKay, who hails from Scotland and has practiced in diverse markets that include Europe, Asia and North America, also shared some of his impressions of architecture and design in Washington. “In the PNW I think there has always been a core belief that design should be for everyone, and as result we see a lot of projects with a human scale and face,” he said. “Even big ticket commissions like the Space Needle and the EMP were very much designed for the community.”

McKay is looking forward to the future. “We have so many game changing projects currently on the boards and under construction,” he reflected. These include the first new hotel in several years to rise on the Las Vegas strip and a mixed-use tower and waterfront development project in Shanghai. Closer to home, DLR Group is the architect for the planned renovation and expansion of the Pritchard Building on Capitol campus in Olympia.

(Editor's note: In a previous version of the article, DLR Group was incorrectly identified as the architect for the replacement of the Newhouse building at the state capitol. The correct architect for that project is Miller Hull.)

“At present we are completing around 30-40 projects a year that all make a real difference to our built environment and world,” McKay said. He will begin his new role as CEO on Oct. 1.

McKay succeeds Griff Davenport who remains a managing principal and chair of the board of directors. McKay is also a managing principal and currently serves as chief design officer for DLR Group. He is the fourth executive leader for DLR Group since its founding in 1966.


Emma Hinchliffe can be reached by email or by phone at (206) 622-8272.

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