Q&A with Kevin Dreyfuss-Wells; Recently Promoted to VP, Architecture

Congratulations to Kevin Dreyfuss-Wells who was recently promoted to VP, Architecture at RDL Architects. The entire team is so proud of your contributions to our team and the impactful, meaningful work you’ve led for our clients over the years, Kevin. We sat down with Kevin and asked him some questions about his career and promotion. Read the Q&A below:

Kevin, congratulations on your promotion to VP of Architecture. Take us back to the beginning – when did you find your passion for architecture?


In the middle of fifth grade, my family moved to a very small school district in rural Illinois. My mom found herself looking for ways to keep me challenged, and having picked up on a tentative interest in buildings took me out of school to drop me off for a day-long solar energy conference with a bunch of grown-up architects. I was out of my depth but fascinated – these folks were pulling off magic tricks just by moving walls and windows around to catch the sun, and I was hooked.

What was your personal “aha” moment when you discovered that this industry is where
you want to be?

I didn’t fully understand what I was getting into when I enrolled for an architecture degree, so that “aha” moment happened gradually. After finishing college, I was perhaps only 60% sure I wanted to practice as an architect and went into the Peace Corps teaching carpentry to teenagers while I thought on it. Coming back, that hands-on experience got me in the door with Jim McQuiston, a sole proprietor who happened to be a masterful woodworker as well as a very talented architect. I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor in a first job, with the opportunity to do everything from answering phones to designing and detailing to construction administration. Experiencing such a broad variety of work each day and learning how every task could be elevated to a higher level of quality, I knew I was on the right road.

In your view, what is architecture all about?

Simply put, it’s problem-solving. While the questions people bring us are usually about buildings, good answers can encompass far more than sticks and bricks. Our best work comes out of clearly understanding all the issues that might converge in a project: client goals, building users’ needs, community context, climate, budgets, and more. Once we see the full picture, our designs can synthesize solutions that respond to all kinds of factors together.

What can architecture and design positively bring to the world?

We’re solving problems for people, and we humans are creatures with such rich and complex lives. We appreciate places that accommodate the entirety of our experience. Including a green and sunny patio to enjoy the company of others can be as important as the purely functional aspects of a design brief. As architects, we’re in the position to create spaces that really matter to people and help our cities become more vibrant.

Talk to us about your time here at RDL. What are some projects that you’ve led over the past few years that stick out in your mind?

Housing has been a huge part of my role at RDL, and affordable housing can be particularly meaningful for the impact it has on people’s lives. Our work in Pittsburgh stands out, transforming what had been ‘barracks-style’ public housing into real homes and creating a neighborhood. More recently, our Arcadia project design is well underway. Not only will it be an exceptional mixed-use project right here in Shaker Heights, but also includes the chance to design our new office home. It’s a true cross-studio collaboration and having such a talented group working together is bringing the design to the next level.

What are you looking forward to in this new role?

I have such tremendous respect for the talent, energy, and ideas we have in everyone here at RDL, but I haven’t had the opportunity to work closely with all our staff. This new role offers the opportunity to collaborate with a broader range of colleagues in our office and get to know them better. I know our work gets stronger as we bring more heads together, and I’m excited to see what we can do next.

What will this new role allow you to do professionally?

Supporting colleagues, growing together, and creating even higher levels of excellence in the work that we do for our clients are all part of our goals. I’ll be looking for approaches to support every studio in different ways that best support their individual needs, finding ways to connect our rich collection of talents with the needs of each person and project.

What is a goal that you are striving to achieve in 2023 as it relates to your new role?

We collaborate all the time here, both with each other and with our clients and partners. But we can do more, so a goal for this year is to create a framework that helps us strengthen our habits of sharing ideas and experiences with each other.

If you could give some advice to young architects/designers early in their career, what would you tell them?

Whenever you can, try taking a shot at the problem, even if it’s stretching yourself at the limits of your experience. Do the research, attempt an answer, sketch ideas, then bring it back to your colleagues to see if you’re on to something. I learn the most by actively trying and doing, I think that’s true for most of us.
Also, keep a tape measure within arm’s reach. I swear that half this job is simply knowing the sizes of things.