David M. Harper

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David M. Harper
David Harper headshot web.jpg
David Michael Harper, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C
Born David Michael Harper
Residence Miami, Florida
Alma mater The Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies
University of Miami School of Architecture
Title Fellow of the American Institute of Architects
Website www.hksinc.com

David Michael Harper is an American architect,[1] business leader and sustainable energy advocate. He is the Global Higher Education Practice Leader for HKS, Inc.[2] He is responsible for the work involving 24 office locations worldwide. He has previously been the Managing Director of the HKS Miami office which now serves as the Global Design Center.

Harper is the recipient of over a dozen architectural design awards including the 2015 AIA COTE Award for his Domus Alba Residence. His work has been featured in a variety of media outlets for over 25 years including the 2016 publication in Ocean Drive Magazine[3] and Miami Home and Design Magazine.[4]

In February 2015, Harper presented "Walking-the-Talk", initiative beginning with a lecture at the 2015 Miami Green Exposition and conference, linking architects and the public to lead by example and adapt to sustainability.[5] Other lectures included the Miami Architecture Center on the topic of architects who have achieved LEED Certification in the design of their own homes.[6]

In November 2012, HKS announced the acquisition of Harper’s Miami-headquartered education design firm, HADP Architecture, Inc. The two firms had been working together on educational projects for more than 15 years prior to the merger, and wanted to expand their national education portfolio as well as increase resources and capabilities in the HKS Florida office locations [7][8]

In 2016, AIA Florida named HKS Architects as the Firm of the Year- the most prestigious award for the region's architectural industry- recognizing outstanding achievements in design, community service, education and services to the profession. With projects ranging from health care, transportation, commercial, education, entertainment, hospitality, retail and housing, HKS, Inc. has been an integral part of every dimension of Florida’s diverse growth, helping to position the state for sustained success.[9]

Soon after HKS acquired HADP Architecture, The Ohio State University selected HKS Inc. as the architectural firm to lead the $370 million Project revitalizing the campus’ North Residential District to accommodate a 3,872 student housing complex, two new dining facilities, recreation facility and more involving 12 new buildings and renovations to existing. Harper stated "HKS is proud to be taking the leadership design team role on the project." [10] In 2016, the OSU North District Transformation Project was completed with eight additional new buildings. The new dorm rooms encourage interaction in common areas to promote socialization and connections rather than individual luxury perks.[11]

Since founding his own practice in 1979, Harper's architectural business development and designs have focused on the sectors of Educational, Airports, Military projects, Correctional facilities, and Multi-Family Housing.[12]

Harper is recognized by industry professionals such as the American Institute of Architects,[13][14] as well as by universities and community organizations for his work (see Awards section below). He was recognized in 2012 in Architecture Leaders Today magazine for his design of three student housing projects,[15] and in Habitation Design Magazine for Best Conceptual Student Housing Design.[16] In June 2012, industry publication Architectural Record recognized Harper's former firm HADP Architecture in their annual Top 250 Architecture Firms list.[17]

Leadership and social responsibility[edit]

Serving and educating the public[edit]

In 2012, Harper completed the design of a residence which produces its own energy and met LEED Gold for Homes standards. The home, Domus Alba, completed construction in 2014 and was featured in Ocean Drive Magazine[3] Florida Design Magazine [18] Miami Home and Design Magazine [4] Florida Caribbean Architect Magazine [19] Pinecrest Sun Magazine[20] and Pinecrest Magazine.[21] The American Institute of America Miami Chapter Committee for the Environment recognized Harper's design with the Award in Merit in 2015 and as the 2014 USGBC South Florida Chapter Most Outstanding LEED for Homes Single-Family Project.[22][23] The Village of Pinecrest issued a proclamation declaring Domus Alba as the first Green Home, LEED certified as part of Pinecrest’s Sustainable Building Program.[24] The project won silver for Best Conceptual Home Design in habitation Design Magazine's National Dream Home Awards contest.[25]

Harper partnered with Florida International University (FIU) to use the home as a sustainability training tool for students and faculty in the FIU departments of engineering, architecture, and interior design.[26]

Industry publications including Architecture Magazine, Progressive Architecture, Florida Architect Magazine,[27] Florida Trend, and Inc. Magazine have all interviewed Harper for architectural advice and educational information, as well as design and construction in South Florida.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew in 1992, Harper served as Chairman of the South Florida Building Code Committee which was responsible for rewriting the Building Code and reforming the way homes and educational facilities are built.[28][29]

Former City of Miami Mayor, Xavier Suarez and former Florida Governor, Jeb Bush, recommended Harper to the fellowship of the AIA as result of his efforts after Hurricane Andrew.

CNN News and The Miami Herald have interviewed David Harper about architecture and disaster response, especially in conjunction with the architectural strength of buildings in South Florida during a hurricane.[30][31]

Harper served on the Citizens Board of the University of Miami,[32] and has served as a Visiting lecturer in the College of Architecture at Florida International University (F.I.U). Harper also serves on the University President’s Council and on the Dean's Advisory Board of the College of Architecture and the Arts (CARTA) at F.I.U.[33] Previously, Harper served on the Board of Trustees of the Historical Association of South Florida (now called HistoryMiami), which is responsible for the Historical Museum of South Florida and the Woodrow W. Wilkins Architectural Archives section of the Museum.[34]

In Atlanta, Harper served for 10 years on the Board of Trustees of the North Metro Miracle League, where he provided the pro-bono design for the “Family Center” part of the Adaptive Sports Complex located in Alpharetta, Ga.[35]

Sustainability and renewable energy[edit]

David Harper's firm, HKS, Inc., is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council. Harper holds the certification LEED Accredited Professional.[36] LEED-certified buildings have healthier environments, which in turn contribute to higher productivity and improved health and comfort to residents and staff.

In 2012, green building products distributor Alterna Corp. partnered with David Harper on his Green Energy Home project Domus Alba.”[37]

Two projects headed by Harper are LEED Gold Certified: Georgia Institute of Technology-North Avenue Apartments renovations have achieved LEED EB O&M Gold Certification, currently the largest university housing building with this certification worldwide.[38] The University of Georgia, Building 1516 in the Reed Community, is also LEED Gold Certified.[39]

LEED Silver Certifications include Meredith College in North Carolina,[40] Florida Gulf Coast University in Ft. Myers, Fla[41] and the University of Alabama in Huntsville Charger Village.

Other higher education sustainable designed projects led by Harper utilize LEED Principles, such as the University of Houston-Wheeler Housing (Cougar Village I), New College of Florida-Residence Halls, Armstrong Atlantic State University-Winward Commons, Kennesaw State University-University Village, and Florida Institute of Technology-Harris Village Suites.[42][43][44]

Early studies and career (1971–84)[edit]

Harper completed the five-year professional degree program at the University of Miami (UM) in just four years, and at age 23, passed the Florida Architect Registration Examination (ARE), receiving his Florida license.[45]

While a student at UM, Harper served as President of the Student Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, and launched the student architectural newspaper AIM, becoming its first editor. He also served the entire undergraduate student body in Student Government as Chairman of Community Affairs, forming the Gardner-Harper Commission to serve as a bridge between the university and the City of Coral Gables. Through the Gardner-Harper Commission, Harper was appointed for a one-year term to a special seat with the Coral Gables City Commission.[46]

Original Steven and Dorothea Green Library at FIU.
Harper’s first project Green Library at Florida International University.

In 1973, while still a student, Harper designed his first professional project: the Steven and Dorothea Green Library at Florida International University’s Modesto A. Maidique Campus.

As a result, the firm at which he worked, Ferendino/Grafton/Spillis/Candela, put Harper on a fast track, a decision Harper said “…ultimately led me to start my own firm…” In 2012, Florida International University recognized Harper for his three decades of design on the campus and financial contributions to the FIU Library, where he was honored by the university with the naming of the library’s central activity space, “The David M. Harper Family Atrium.” [47] Harper’s original design from the 1970s was three stories. The library has since undergone an expansion which added five additional floors.

Harper was also awarded First Prize in a design competition for the new Miami Dade County downtown public library. The competition recognized the top designer at the university for his/her senior year architectural design project. Miami-Dade County then presented Harper’s project to the public during the process of planning for the new county library.[48]

In 1974, the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies (IAUS) invited Harper to spend his thesis year in New York City (the IAUS functioned under architect Peter Eisenman who developed its curriculum and began its undergraduate education program in 1973). The program was open to an élite group of invited students from a consortium of distinguished liberal arts colleges and schools of architecture.[49]

Upon his graduation from the University of Miami in 1975, Harper was awarded the Alpha Rho Chi Medal.[50]

In 1979, Harper established his firm, "Harper & Buzinec," and by 1984, had a staff of 47 and nearly $82 million worth of designs in various stages of production.[51] Former partner Paul Buzinec was quoted as saying, "David's at the top of the pyramid. His imagination and enthusiasm keep him up." George Allen, executive vice president of the Florida Association of the American Institute of Architects said, "David has a unique capability in the field of architecture." And mentor Ed Grafton, who handpicked David as a protégé said, "I thought he was very bright and quick. And that's the whole business of personal service. You're not baking bread and your're not making automobiles. The whole is people's minds - that's what you sell."

His professional growth is accredited to his aggressive marketing techniques, good design sense, and knowledge of business management and diplomacy.[51] In 1980, Harper's regional and national design work gained recognition with the winning remodel design of the FA/AIA Headquarters Building in Tallahassee. The project was completed in early 1982.[52]

Innovative design/build technologies (1985–present)[edit]

David Harper and his firm designed and incorporated the first known use of "tilt-up" concrete construction on a school project in the United States. Although prevalent at the time for use in industrial construction, the technology had not yet been used in constructing schools. The Mandarin Middle School project in Jacksonville, Fla. was completed successfully in 1990. Harper repeated similar applications where "tilt-up" could be incorporated for school designs in Jacksonville and later in four schools located in St. Augustine, Fla., including Alice B. Landrum Middle School in Ponte Vedra Beach. In 1995, Harper facilitated the first use of the "tilt-up" technology for school construction in Miami-Dade County schools, such as at John I. Smith K-8 Center. By the year 2010, what was first thought of as revolutionary has become the standard of the industry in school construction in Florida and in other regions of the Southeastern United States.

During the mid-2000s, Harper also served on the Board of Directors of Eagles 3 Group, Inc., a Delaware-based corporation which created, licensed and owned construction technology companies utilizing patented concrete forming technologies. Harper’s role in the company was as senior advisor to create building applications for the utilization of this machine-formed "concrete box technology," and to explore architectural design solutions utilizing the technology.

In 2010, Harper’s leadership as Design Principal-in-Charge on the design/build team for the creation of an on-campus student residence hall at the University of Houston (UH) resulted in one of the first applications of the use of "tunnel-form" concrete construction[53] on a campus student housing project in the United States. As a result, the seven-story 291,000-square-foot (27,000 m2) University of Houston Cougar Village project was completed in record time and at a cost of approximately $75 per square foot below the most recent campus student housing project at UH.[54]


American Institute of Architects – Design Awards[edit]

  • The Florida Association of the American Institute of Architects[55]
    • Award of Honor – AIA Headquarters Building
  • The Miami Chapter of the American Institute of Architects[56]
    • Award of Merit for Sustainability- Committee on the Environment(COTE) (David M. Harper- Domus Alba
    • Award of Excellence Built Category (Harper Carreño Mateu, Inc.) – Student Apartment Facility at Florida Atlantic University
    • Award of Merit for Design – Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center
    • Award of Honor in Architecture – PSB/UPH Building, U.S. Coast Guard Base
    • Award of Merit for Unbuilt Category (Harper Carreño Mateu, Inc.) – U.S. Coast Guard Station at Hobe Sound
    • Award for Excellence Built Category (Harper Carreño Mateu, Inc.) – Miami Job Corps Center
  • The Orlando Chapter of the American Institute of Architects
    • Award of Honor- Florida International University Parkview Student Housing

Industry Awards[edit]

  • 2014 USGBC South Florida Chapter Most Outstanding LEED for Homes Single-Family Project - Domus Alba
  • Gold Award for Best Conceptual Student Housing Design-habitation Design Magazine (HADP/HKS Joint Venture) – Parkview Housing at Florida International University
  • Award for Best Conceptual Home Design-Habitation Design Magazine  – Green Energy Home in Pinecrest, FL
  • Alpha Rho Chi Medal in Architecture, University of Miami
  • Merrill Lynch/Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year – Finalist
  • INC. Magazine CEO – Top 500 private companies
  • Architectural Record magazine – Top 250 Architecture Firms
  • Price Waterhouse-South Florida Magazine Up & Comers – Award
  • Lou Tassee Award – For outstanding contributions to community education

Notable projects[edit]

  • American Airlines World Gateway Terminal, Miami, FL[57]
  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport Expansion, Atlanta, GA
  • Beijing Oriental Hotel, China
  • Biltmore Hotel Conference Center of the Americas, Coral Gables, FL[58]
  • United States Coast Guard, Miami Beach, FL[59]
  • US Department of Labor Job Corps Center, Miami, FL[60]
  • Turner Guilford Knight Center, Dade County, FL[61]
  • FA/AIA Headquarters Building, Tallahassee, FL[62]

Higher education[edit]

  • The Ohio State University, North Residential District - Registered, seeking LEED Silver [63]
  • Georgia Institute of Technology, North Avenue Apartments renovations – LEED GOLD Certified EB O&M, Former Olympic Village Gets the Gold-LEED Gold[64]
  • University of Georgia, Building 1516 – LEED GOLD Certified, Building 1516 Receives Honors[65]
  • Meredith College, The Oaks Apartments – LEED Silver Certified[66]
  • University of Houston, Cougar Village[67]
  • University of Alabama, Ridgecrest South I & II[68]
  • University of Alabama in Huntsville, New Residence Hall, Dining Facility, and Parking Garage - LEED Silver Certified
  • Armstrong Atlantic State University, Winward Commons[69]
  • Florida Gulf Coast University, South Village Biscayne Hall – LEED Silver Certified[70]
  • Florida International University, Student Housing - Parkview Hall LEED Silver Certified



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  2. ^ "HKS Architects - David Harper". www.hksinc.com. Retrieved 2016-09-17. 
  3. ^ a b "How Grove at Grand Bay Will Become Miami's First Eco-Friendly Development". Retrieved 2016-09-17. 
  4. ^ a b "Web Viewer | Titles". digital.floridadesign.com. Retrieved 2016-09-17. 
  5. ^ [1], “Walking the Talk: Architects Designing Their Own Homes”
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  7. ^ [3], HKS Acquires HADP Architecture, Further Expanding its Higher Education Focus
  8. ^ [4], HKS Acquires HADP Architecture, Expanding its Florida Presence
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  10. ^ [5], $370 Million Project Underway at Ohio State]
  11. ^ "Ohio colleges' new dorms encourage interaction outside rooms, not luxury perks". Retrieved 2016-09-17. 
  12. ^ "Top Southeast U.S. Architecture Firms Merge" (Press Release), PR Newswire, August 9, 2002
  13. ^ "David Harper Named Fellow", The Miami Herald, April 2, 1995, page 10G
  14. ^ [6], Florida Architect, Summer 1995
  15. ^ "Scholar Chic: Three Different Universities, Three Different Design Needs" Architecture Leaders Today, July/August 2012
  16. ^ "2012 Winners Dream Home Awards", habitation Design Magazine, Volume 3 Issue 1
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  21. ^ [9].
  22. ^ [10]
  23. ^ [11]
  24. ^ [12].
  25. ^ "2012 Winners Dream Home Awards", Habitation Design Magazine, Volume 3 Issue 1
  26. ^ "Miami Architect David M. Harper Brings Family Home to Green Library", FIU News, July 2012
  27. ^ David M. Harper, AIA, "The Dade County Stockade Expansion", Florida Architect, May–June 1984
  28. ^ Don Finefrock, "Building Code Advisory Committee to Hold First Meeting", The Miami Herald, May 9, 1993, page 4G
  29. ^ File:BuildingCodeCommitteeAcknowledment.pdf
  30. ^ "Hurricane Andrew Rebuilding" CNN Headline News, August 24, 1993
  31. ^ Don Finefrock,[13] The Miami Herald, multiple articles from 1993-1994
  32. ^ [14], University of Miami Citizens Board
  33. ^ "FIU Memberships", Florida International University, oversight of President's Council
  34. ^ [15],Woodrow W. Wilkins Archives of Architectural Records
  35. ^ [16], North Metro Miracle League, Board Members & Adapted Sports Complex
  36. ^ [17] U.S. Green Building Council
  37. ^ "Alterna Announces Partnership to Develop Green Energy Home", Alterna Corp June 18, 2012
  38. ^ "North Avenue Apartments Dedicated for LEED Gold Distinction". Georgia Tech GreenBuzz, February 10, 2012
  39. ^ "Building 1516 earns LEED Gold - University of Georgia", The University of Georgia
  40. ^ "Meredith Apartments Earn LEED Silver Certification", Meredith College
  41. ^ "Biscayne Hall Becomes FGCU’s First LEED Silver Certified Facility" University Housing Services, August 23, 2010
  42. ^ Daniel Beaird,"Houston Opens New Freshman Housing", Student Housing Business, December 13, 2010
  43. ^ [18] eArmstrong newsletter, July 2009
  44. ^ "Harris Village: Project of Distinction Winner 2009", Education Design Showcase, 2009
  45. ^ "Florida License", "Florida Dept. of Business & Professional Regulation"
  46. ^ File:University of Miami Garder-Harper Commission 1974.pdf
  47. ^ "FIU News", "Miami architect David M. Harper brings family ‘home’ to Green Library", July 2012
  48. ^ File:Miami Dade County Public Library Design Competition, 1974.pdf
  49. ^ File:AIM paper Harper attends IAUS.pdf
  50. ^ [19], Alpha Rho Chi Bronze Medal, page 11
  51. ^ a b ["David Michael Harper: Blending Good Design with Marketing Moxie"], Florida Trend, May 1984
  52. ^ "FA/AIA Headquarters Building", Florida Architect Reference Book, 1982
  53. ^ Joe Nasvik, "Building Fast", Concrete Construction, April 25, 2006
  54. ^ "Grand Opening of Cougar Village", University of Houston, August 13, 2010
  55. ^ [20], AIA Florida
  56. ^ File:AIA Miami Awards David Harper.pdf
  57. ^ [21]
  58. ^ [22], South Florida Business Journal, April 12, 1999
  59. ^ [23], US Coast Guard
  60. ^ [24] US Department of Labor Job Corps Center
  61. ^ [25], Miami-Dade County Corrections
  62. ^ [26], AIA Florida
  63. ^ [27], “$370 Million Project Underway at Ohio State”]
  64. ^ "Former Olympic Village Gets the Gold-LEED Gold", Georgia Tech Newsroom, December 12, 2011
  65. ^ "Building 1516 Receives Honors", University Housing: University of Georgia, Spring 2012, page 4
  66. ^ File:Meredith-Apts-Earn-LEED-Silver.PDF
  67. ^ Mike Emery, "Grand Opening of Cougar Village Housing Complex", University of Houston News, August 13, 2010
  68. ^ [28], Emporis data
  69. ^ "Smooth-Sailing Windward Commons Creates Campus Enhancements For Armstrong Atlantic State University", Computer User
  70. ^ [29], Florida Gulf Coast University