Our office is devoted to a critical pursuit and practice of architecture. We believe in the search for spaces which define a full, rich, and dignified way of life.
Kept purposefully small, our office endeavors to focus attention on every detail throughout a project, no matter how small. Exercising this discipline is essential to the creation of Architecture.
Relying on the participatory atmosphere of a studio, our process involves clients, engineers, consultants, and contractors in the development of structures which respond to desire, function and budget. After devoting our efforts to finding the "emotional center" of a project early on, we collaborate to develop solutions that reinforce it. Simple, direct solutions are held in high esteem.
Our work ranges in scale and type; from the design of a door lever to a theater arts center for a college; from an elementary school to an indoor ice rink; from a children's museum to a painter's studio. Our work includes residences of various scales, programs, budgets for all walks of life. We remain committed to the optimistic pursuit of architecture in the design of buildings, interiors, landscapes, furniture, and urban design to ensure the realization of unified projects, regardless of their magnitude.
Dan founded Daniel Wheeler Architects in 1987 after winning the design competition for Camp Madron. In 1990, he established, with Lawrence Kearns, the practice of Wheeler Kearns Architects. In 1996 the firm was selected by a national jury of its peers as the recipient of the prestigious AIA Firm Award from the Chicago Chapter of the AIA, the youngest and smallest firm awarded to date. In 1998 Dan was nominated and elected into The College of Fellows of The American Institute of Architects, in recognition of notable contributions to the advancement of the architecture profession. In addition to being a practicing architect, Dan is a Professor of Architecture at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he has been called upon to serve as Interim Director.
Dan received his Bachelor of Architecture in 1981 from the Rhode Island School of Design, where he studied abroad in Rome for two years. While attending the RISD European Honors Program, he was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Traveling Fellowship. He worked at the offices of Machado-Silvetti Architects in Boston throughout his school years and contributed to many projects, including the award winning "Steps of Providence" project in 1980.
In 1981, Dan arrived in Chicago and began to work for Skidmore, Owings & Merrill as a project architect. Dan was promoted to Associate and Studio Head in 1985. That year Dan also received the AIA Young Architect Award for design excellence from the Chicago Chapter. Wanting to complement his SOM experience, Dan began work in 1982 on independent commissions, eventually leading to his involvement with the Camp Madron Competition and the subsequent establishment of a formal office. As a WKA Project Architect, he has been responsible for such projects as Camp Madron, the Chicago Children's Museum, the North Avenue Beach House, Marwen, Green Homes for Chicago, and Orchard East, among other numerous residences.
The work of Wheeler Kearns is regularly exhibited and published, and is included in the permanent collections of the Chicago History Museum and the Art Institute of Chicago. The work of the firm has been recognized with numerous AIA and Driehaus Awards.
Dan was elected as a Trustee of the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts in 1999, where he currently serves on the advisory board. He is past Chairman of the Architecture Alliance at the Chicago History Museum, where he also served as a Trustee. He has assisted in founding and directing the Marwen Foundation's Architecture Program, designed to expose under-served inner city high school students to design. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Architecture & Design Society of the Art Institute of Chicago and is on the advisory board of The Chicago Architecture Club. Dan is a visiting critic at Auburn University’s Rural Studio, a “regular” since 2002. He regularly lectures and serves on national professional and academic juries.
Dan is a registered architect in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan and North Dakota.
Larry Kearns has been a partner at Wheeler Kearns Architects since 1990, after joining the firm in 1988. Larry has contributed as project architect for commissions such as the Old Town School of Folk Music’s primary facility in Chicago and the Prototypical Fabric Pool Enclosure for the Chicago Park District, which was exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago. Current responsibilities include a series of senior-focused Cafes in Chicago and a Charter School within an existing building on State Street in Chicago.
Larry spent his first 23 years in south Florida and graduated from the University of Miami School of Architecture in 1985 where he obtained a Bachelor of Architecture, Magna Cum Laude. He attended the Universitario di Venezia for the spring term in 1984 and won three student design competitions during his studies. Larry worked in the offices of Jan Hochstim, AIA in South Miami from 1981 to 1985. During that time, he headed an award-winning renovation project for the University of Miami School of Architecture.
In 1985, Larry joined Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in Chicago. As the senior designer for the infrastructure of Canary Wharf, he oversaw the design of an international financial center on a 71-acre site in London. Larry co-authored the design guidelines for parcel development for 12 million square feet of new office and trading space.
Larry has served as design critic at the University of Miami, University of Illinois, Notre Dame, and the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. He has served as a juror for the SOM Travelling Fellowship, the AIA Chicago Award, and the Schiff Award at UIC. He has lectured at the Chicago Architectural Club, the University of Miami, the University of Illinois at Chicago, the Chicago Art Deco Society, and at multiple AIA Professional Development Conferences. For the University of Illinois at Chicago's Continuing Education program, Larry has delivered a series of lectures and prepared mock exams for individuals preparing for the Architectural Registration Exam. He has also served on Triton College's architectural program advisory committee. By invitation from the Chicago Cultural Facilities Fund, Larry has lectured numerous times to not-for-profit groups in the City of Chicago who are contemplating new construction projects. His work has been published in The Chicago Architectural Journal, Trends, The Chicago Tribune, and is included in the permanent collection of the White House.
Affiliations include the American Institute of Architects , the US Green Building Council and the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI). Larry has served as chair of the education committee and on the Board of the Chicago Chapter of CSI. As a recognized expert witness, he has testified in the Circuit Court of Cook County regarding construction topics. Larry is a registered architect in the State of Illinois, a certified LEED professional, a registered energy professional with the City of Chicago, a registered Self-Certification professional with the City of Chicago, a member of the International Code Council, and a licensed soccer coach.
Larry is married to Winnie Kearns, a social worker who manages DePaul's Family Mental Health Center. Larry, Winnie and their children Colleen, Kevin and Olivia live in Oak Park.