LPA Design Studios announced the upcoming retirement of longtime president Dan Heinfeld, who led the firm’s growth from a small, commercial development-focused architecture studio into a nation-leading integrated design practice setting new standards for performance and design excellence.
During Heinfeld’s 37-years as president, LPA created a new model for a diverse design studio with architects, engineers, landscape architects and interior designers focused on tackling the largest issues facing the built environment. He made sustainability a core part of the firm’s ethos long before it was mainstream, illustrating that designers could significantly reduce energy use on a large scale, across project types. His influence can be seen in a generation of innovative corporate campuses, schools, recreation centers, civic projects, mixed use developments and healthcare facilities that are sustainable and support people in new ways.
In recognition, LPA has earned the country’s top design awards, including a 2023 American Institute of Architects (AIA) Architecture Award, the industry’s highest honor for a single project, for the TIDE Academy, a groundbreaking public high school in Menlo Park, California; a 2023 National Council of Structural Engineering Associations Structural Engineering Excellence award for the West Hollywood Aquatic and Recreation Center; and a 2020 national AIA COTE Top Ten award, the industry’s most prestigious award for sustainable design, for the Environmental Nature Center and Preschool in Newport Beach, California.
In 2021, LPA earned its second AIA California Firm Award, the state’s top award for a practice, in recognition of the firm’s culture, influence on the community and role in the design industry.
“In his 45-year career at LPA, Dan’s never wavered from a deep-rooted belief in the gifts of the site, inspiring a generation of architects and engineers to prioritize performance to create design opportunities,” said LPA Chief Executive Officer Wendy Rogers. “Ordinary projects became extraordinary projects.”
Heinfeld’s formal retirement completes a leadership transition that started three years ago. Chief Design Officer Keith Hempel was named the firm’s new president in June. Heinfeld will officially retire on Dec. 31, but will remain with the firm as a consultant and advisor to the board of directors.
“I am confident and excited about what this next generation of leaders is going to do at LPA,” Heinfeld said. “The firm is well positioned to make a difference for our clients and the industry with the idea that every project, no matter the budget or scale, can be designed for high performance and design excellence.”
The firm’s list of milestone projects include the Premier Automotive Group headquarters for the Ford Motor Company, the nation’s first LEED-NC-certified building; the decade-long development of the Edwards Lifesciences campus; the new County of Orange civic complex; and the recently announced $1 billion expansion of Hoag’s new Sun Family Campus in Irvine, California.
In the course of a 40-year partnership with the Irvine Company, one of the largest community builders in the country, Heinfeld helped create a portfolio of corporate campuses that are models of smart land development, balancing open space, landscape, architecture and sustainability.
“I was very fortunate to work with a remarkable landowner and builder who understands the value of planning, landscape and design,” Heinfeld said. “Mr. [Donald] Bren’s stewardship and focus on master planning has played a large role in my career and the amazing environment we all share here in Orange County.”
Heinfeld spearheaded LPA’s expansion into public schools and universities, sectors often ignored by architecture firms, working to develop a new generation of schools and universities that have changed the experience for millions of students. LPA is now one of the leading school designers in the country; in the past three years its projects have won three national American Institute of Architects' (AIA) Committee on Architecture for Education (CAE) awards.
Heinfeld built LPA around the concept that designs could be timeless and do more to cut energy costs and improve health and wellness. The firm was an early and passionate advocate for the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system and the AIA 2030 Commitment. To better address performance challenges, the firm added engineers, landscape architects and interior designers, developing a model for a collaborative firm that breaks down barriers between disciplines. On every project, designers develop goals around wellness, community, experience and performance.
To date, LPA has designed more than 200 LEED-certified buildings and consistently ranks among the largest firms in the nation to meet or surpass the 2030 Commitment performance targets.
“Through Dan’s leadership, building performance and sustainability were established as core values,” Hempel said. “Our evolution into an integrated design firm allowed us to apply these values to every project regardless of its typology.”
Heinfeld also inspired a generation of younger architects, many of whom are now in LPA leadership positions, including Hempel and Rogers, who started as an intern. Five LPA architects have been elevated to the AIA’s College of Fellows, including Heinfeld, in recognition of significant national contributions to the architecture profession. Three LPA architects have earned the AIA’s Young Architect honor in recent years.
In 2018, Heinfeld received the AIA Orange County’s chapter’s President’s Award for his contributions to the community and leadership in sustainability.