BKV Group, a holistic design firm providing architecture, interior design, engineering, landscape, and construction administration services across the U.S., has announced that Robert Muller, AIA, LEED AP, has joined the firm as managing partner and design leader of the development group for the Chicago office. Muller will spearhead the growth of BKV’s Chicago studio as it undertakes more complex, nationwide projects in the market-rate housing, student housing, commercial, and hospitality sectors.
“We have been looking for a leader in Chicago, and with Rob now in place, we have inserted a major piece into our firm to bolster our design capabilities and expand our disciplines. As the managing partner of the development group in Chicago, Rob will collaborate with senior project manager, Mark Harris, on senior and affordable work, and will provide design, marketing, client relationship, and internal leadership to the entire studio alongside our senior designer, Renato Gilberti.”
Jack Boarman, founding partner and CEO of BKV Group
With over 20 years of experience practicing architecture in Chicago, Muller has worked for award-winning commercial architecture firms with a broad range of expertise. He has assisted with and led the design of high-profile buildings across the globe, executing sophisticated mechanical, structural, and enclosure systems that help create sustainable and efficient projects.
In addition to introducing developers to the efficiencies of BKV Group’s light gauge steel construction system and prefabrication process, Muller will collaborate with other senior office leaders to cultivate a design-led culture, build upon client relationships, guide staff training and mentorship, and assist with marketing the firm’s full-service offerings.
“This is an exciting time for BKV Group and I feel my passion for design and problem solving can dovetail with the firm’s goal of generating more innovative commercial projects,” said Muller. “BKV Group’s custom light gauge steel construction systems will be beneficial to the local development community and a revitalized focus on form and composition – combined with the talented staff in Chicago – can set the stage for BKV Group to be a major design influence in the city.”
Muller’s portfolio includes multifamily, corporate headquarters, speculative office, higher education, hospitality and luxury single family, along with work in urban planning and interior design in Chicago and other major U.S. markets, as well as Asia, Europe and the Middle East. He has also worked as a residential developer and is a licensed general contractor. Prior to joining BKV, Muller was a design leader at Gensler, Goettsch Partners and SCB, and was a project architect with Murphy/Jahn (now JAHN). He holds a bachelor’s of architecture from the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Art, Architecture and Planning (DAAP), where he graduated with distinction.
A Focus on Design
Rob’s career has been dedicated to honing his design skills. Early on, he contributed to dynamic projects such as the Bayer Headquarters in Leverkeusen, Germany and the headquarters of Merck Serono in Geneva, Switzerland – which featured innovative systems that were at the leading edge of sustainable design and glass technology (both receiving AIA awards). Rob translated this experience into noteworthy high-rise offices, multifamily residential towers, higher education facilities, and mixed-use projects. Major Chicago projects Rob led include 500 North Lakeshore Drive, 111 West Illinois, The Hub Group Corporate Headquarters and the Niehoff Center for the Loyola University School of Nursing. More recently, Rob undertook the development of exemplary office, residential, and urban planning projects as a design lead for large and small developments in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and around the U.S., managing many staff members and effectively coordinating with clients and consultants. Rob’s focus on creative design solutions serves his clients while aligning with BKV Group’s mission as a holistic, multidisciplinary firm. At BKV Group, Rob looks to establish a strong culture of design ownership – from the first client meeting through the completion of the building – that is fulfilled by every member of the project team.
A Lesson in Listening
Early in his career, one of the best pieces of advice Rob received was, “Always remember that you’re working for a client and be mindful of their vision.” Rob has never wavered on his passion for design, but has tailored his approach to listen intently to the client’s goals for the project in order to offer creative solutions that will resonate. To achieve this, Rob believes it’s important to remain flexible and open to new ideas during the design process, recognizing that a great contribution can come from anyone on the project team.
Rob’s past clients have all admired his high level of responsiveness – they feel they have his full attention despite knowing he is balancing multiple, substantial projects simultaneously. As a design leader and managing partner of the development group in Chicago, Rob understands that communication is imperative to his position. Listening, offering guidance, sharing ideas and proactively reaching out are what keeps projects moving forward, and all are essential to strong design solutions.
Multifaceted Skill Set
Rob adds value to projects through innovative design that holistically integrates the site, use, construction, budget and time constraints. He excels in hand-sketching, 3D visualization, planning, documentation, working with codes, knowledge of materials, systems, construction processes, and detailing – all critical tools for being a leader in architecture. Rob uses this technical and creative skill set for developing design ideas to satisfy his clients, the authorities, and other stakeholders.
Rob is a long-time Chicagoan and has great affinity for the city. Over more than 20 years, he has established a strong network of specialists, experts and industry contacts and an innate knowledge of how to design and build in Chicago. He is constantly thinking about finding value. His naturally tendency is to look for simplicity in his work, distilling down to the project’s essence as a means of reducing costs while holding onto the important attributes. This aligns directly with BKV’s portfolio and holistic approach. “In Chicago, there is a broad spectrum of people needing affordable housing and BKV’s systems can have a pronounced impact.” In a time when affordable housing is on the rise and developers are expanding and diversifying, Rob believes BKV Group can position itself to offer an alternative to concrete construction that creates beautiful, profitable buildings throughout the city.
Should you wish to get in touch, Rob is available to clients, project stakeholders, and the media at email@example.com and (312) 525-3408.