Philadelphia-based structural engineering firm enters exciting period of growth with new leadership while maintaining established legacy of collaboration
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — Keast & Hood, the Philadelphia-based structural engineering firm known for designing new buildings with leading architects and for preserving some of the nation’s most iconic historic structures, is excited to announce the transition to its third generation of ownership. On January 1st, 2022, firm veterans Denise Richards, PE and John Davis, PE assumed full ownership of the firm with Ms. Richards as the majority shareholder. Richards and Davis are committed to building on the legacy of quality work and client collaboration instilled in the firm by its founders. Former owners Frederick Baumert, Constantine Doukakis, and Thomas Normile will remain fully engaged with the firm to ensure a seamless transition and the transfer of institutional knowledge. Keast & Hood was founded in 1953.
“Keast & Hood has a reputation for its collaborative problem solving and innovative structural solutions,” said Baumert. “Denise and John have demonstrated their ability to carry forward and build upon this reputation. Dean, Tom, and I are thrilled to support our new Partners, whom we are confident will build upon this existing foundation and strengthen the firm as it moves into the next phase. The firm has a strong core of engineers at every level and we are eager to help Denise and John develop the potential of the team.”
MEET THE NEXT GENERATION OF PARTNERS
Denise and John bring a collective 40 years of experience to their new titles as Partners. In these new roles, they are excited to bring new energy and ideas to Keast & Hood, a firm already known for its vitality, quality of work, and commitment to collaboration internally and externally within Philadelphia and the greater mid-Atlantic area. Both new Partners are eager to continue that legacy while implementing a new strategic plan for the next phase of the firm’s history. Additionally, as this transition elevates existing Principals to ownership status, all Keast & Hood staff are keen to usher the team into a new era.
Denise has over 20 years of industry experience, 14 of those with Keast & Hood, which she joined in 2005. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Denise holds a master of science in structural engineering and a bachelor of science from Drexel University. At Keast & Hood, Denise leads a number of the firm’s higher institution projects. She has been involved in such notable projects as the Statue of Liberty National Monument in New York, NY and Fashion District Philadelphia, as well as several projects for The Pennsylvania State University. Denise is a founding member of the Delaware Valley Association of Structural Engineers’ Women in Structural Engineering (WiSE) Committee, and is co-founder of the DVASE Sustainable Design Committee. Additionally, she has just joined the NCSEA National Sustainable Design Committee. Denise is a Board Member of the Community Design Collaborative, serves on the Philadelphia AIA COTE Policy & Advocacy Committee, and is an active mentor with the ACE Mentor Program Eastern Pennsylvania Affiliate.
“As our industry continues to evolve, this is a wonderful time to be a part of this next chapter of the Keast & Hood story,” says Denise. “While we are committed to maintaining the firm’s considerable legacy, this is an exciting moment to build upon that and continue to establish ourselves as leaders in sustainability, DEI, and in the engineering space as a whole.”
John Davis has over 20 years of structural engineering experience. Since joining Keast & Hood in 1998, John has achieved award-winning results on structural challenges for buildings both new and old. He holds a bachelor of science in structural design and construction engineering technology from Pennsylvania State university, and is a member of the Association for Preservation Technology; American Institute of Steel Construction; past president of the Delaware Valley Association of Structural Engineers; an adjunct faculty member at Delaware Technical & Community College; and the Chairperson for the New Castle County, DE, Historic Review Board.
John explores his particular interest in historic preservation through a robust portfolio of projects, including the Arlen Specter Center for Public Policy/Roxboro House at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, the Van Amringe Building/Sterling House in Delaware City, DE, and the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia. This passion for preservation is not only prevalent throughout his projects, but also in his deliberate and thoughtful mentorship of young engineers.
“One of the reasons I was originally drawn to Keast & Hood is the firm’s exceptional quality of work and deep commitment to collaboration with our clients,” says John. “I am looking forward to stepping into this leadership role and not only continuing, but expanding on this established heritage and limitless future.”
As an important aspect of their new roles, Denise and John will be assuming responsibility for managing external client relationships and internal office affairs. Additionally, they will be in charge of implementing the 2021 strategic plan for the firm. This plan is focused around the firm looking inward, investing in themselves, and taking a more holistic approach to the future of Keast & Hood with Denise and John at the helm. More specifically, the new partners will be zeroing in on internal operations during this process, exploring how the firm functions and how they approach business development efforts in target markets. During this period, Denise and John are looking forward to getting staff as involved and as invested in this process as possible and bringing in ideas from all levels for a fresh perspective. Ultimately, this process — impeccably timed with the transition — neatly dovetails around an exciting period of reflection around the firm’s identity.
Moreover, both Denise and John are particularly excited to bring new sustainability initiatives to Keast & Hood, and have committed to the SE2050 challenge. Furthermore, they will be working closely with firm staff to implement a more robust DEI committee and continue important conversations about diversity at all levels. In this vein, Keast & Hood will officially become a women-owned business following this transition, given Denise’s ownership stake in the company. This is an exciting continuation of the firm’s established history of championing women in the engineering industry, given their impressive number of women in technical roles.