Gresham Smith Taps Keith Besserud for Newly Created Director of Digital Innovation Position

February 21, 2019

Gresham Smith has tapped Keith Besserud, AIA, for its newly created Director of Digital Innovation position. He will be a firmwide strategic resource based in Gresham Smith’s new Chicago office, spearheading a process of digital transformation for the firm. Over the course of his 25+ year architectural career, Besserud has developed industry-leading expertise around the use of digital and data-centric technologies in design and practice. His professional journey has taken him from design leadership roles into parallel digital investigations that have dealt with complex building geometries, generative design, data-integrated design, design optimization, building and urban systems simulations, data analytics and visualization, sensors & IoT, and web-based Architecture-as-a-Service business concepts.

“There are tremendous opportunities for innovation in the design industry, and Keith is here to help us unlock those opportunities,” said Jeff Kuhnhenn, AIA, LEED AP, director of architectural design at Gresham Smith. “He’ll focus energy on fostering a company culture with grassroots enthusiasm for and participation in the field of innovation. And he’ll spend a lot of time with Gresham Smith’s employees, helping them tap into their own tech-forward ideas and managing the development of the resources they need to become leaders within their project teams and market sectors. Ultimately, Keith will help us undertake things that don’t seem feasible right now and carve a path for Gresham Smith as we grow in our commitment to being true innovators in our industry.”

“My early years in architecture cultivated a deep curiosity about the application of computer science and algorithmic thinking as a means of exploring design possibilities more thoroughly and more efficiently,” said Besserud. “This prompted a career transition, redirecting me toward the intersection of design and computation and the latest research in that field. Through my various endeavors, I’ve honed my skills at recognizing and implementing opportunities for digital technologies to disrupt our industry. It’s exciting to join Gresham Smith’s team and help this talented group of designers put the latest and greatest design technologies to work in the most effective way for our clients.”

As the Director of Digital Innovation, Besserud will be focused on a number of firmwide practice categories including: the improvement of current delivery processes; the improvement of design quality through the delivery of better analytical information; the development and use of design communication technologies (such as AR/VR) to enhance client and consultant engagement in the design process; and the development of entirely new data-enabled forms of client services, not traditionally offered by design firms.

Before joining Gresham Smith, Besserud co-founded and ran SpaceBot, a Chicago-based tech start-up that created spatial sensor technologies to provide clients with unique forms of spatial intelligence. Prior to SpaceBot, he was a data strategy director for Gensler for two years, while prior to Gensler he was the founder of BlackBox at Skidmore Owings & Merrill, LLP, a highly innovative computational design team he led for eight years. Besserud has published writings in the U.S., U.K. and Japan, and he has presented at conferences and symposiums across the U.S. He earned a Master of Engineering degree from the Stevens Institute of Technology, a Master of Architecture degree from Georgia Tech and a Bachelor of Science degree in Architectural Studies from University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign.