Bob Berkebile


Any list of accomplished, influential environmentalists and preservationists includes Bob Berkebile. Highly regarded by fellow professionals, Bob focuses on improving the quality of life in our society with the integrity and spirit of his firm’s work. In 2009, Bob received a Heinz Award from Theresa Heinz and the Heinz Family Foundation for his role in promoting green building design and for his commitment and action towards restoring social, economic and environmental vitality to America’s communities through sustainable architecture and planning. He was also listed as No. 3 on a list of the Top 5 U.S. Individual Role Models for green and sustainable design in the 2009 Design Intelligence Sustainable Design Survey.

After retiring as an architect and founding principal at BNIM, Berkebile continues to be a catalyst for development in Kansas City. As a partner with Sustainable Development Partners, he was a key force in many projects, including transforming Westport Commons into a Plexpod site. 

He is the founding chairman of the American Institute of Architects’ National Committee on the Environment (AIA / COTE) and was also instrumental in the formation of the US Green Building Council and its LEED rating system.

What is it about KC that inspires creativity in you?
I find a heart spirit present in the people and place of our “heartland region” that puts wind in the sails of my ideas and work.

What is your favorite spot in Kansas City?
A seat somewhere among 206-210 in the mezzanine (left or right) in Helzberg Hall at the Kaufmann Center for Performing Arts, especially during a concert with chorus—you can see the joy and determination on Michael Stern’s face as he coaxes the best performance from the orchestra and chorus; and you can almost touch the nearest member of the chorus.

Where’s your favorite place outside of Kansas City?
The South Island of New Zealand, one of the most beautiful places on the planet, and the Kiwis are warm, generous, fun loving people.

What’s your most treasured possession?
My grandfather’s hand-made wood-working tools.

Who’s your favorite fictional hero?
Tin Tin, a global explorer and lifelong learner.

Who do you admire most in real-life?
It’s a toss-up between:

  • Our inspiring young colleagues at BNIM Architects
  • Andrew Deckard, a MindDrive student (dismissed from DeLasalle High School for poor attendance while staying home to take care of siblings) who designed and built six computers that will facilitate the design and construction of award winning cars and products of future MindDrive classes.
  • William Kamkwamba (The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind), a remarkable young man from Malawi who refused to let go of his dream to provide electricity and water for his village even though less than 2% of Milawians have water or power, and his neighbors called him masala (crazy).

When and where are you the happiest?
When I am discovering a new idea or helping bring a beautiful, regenerative design into being…and when I am enjoying a beautiful place (natural or built environment) with family or friends.




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