No matter how good your design is, it will crumble without a solid foundation. This principle is not just true of architecture. It is also true of life—which is why KDG believes in investing in the future of the local community and providing valuable opportunities for budding architects.
KDG was founded on the principle of putting people first by building genuine relationships with them, ultimately allowing them to design a final product that could fulfill the initial vision. This people-centric passion also spills over into local community involvement—because KDG believes that investing in people today is key to creating a thriving society in the future. One of the most powerful examples of this community investment is the Architecture/Construction Management Program (ACM) at Gahanna Lincoln High School.
Founded in 1993, ACM is run by Eastland-Fairfield Career and Technical School and offers budding architects the opportunity to get some hands-on learning experience in the field as they explore their interests and prepare to pursue their careers in architecture. KDG works closely with ACM to consult on projects, provide guest speakers, and even mentor students in the program.
KDG believes that investing in people today is key to creating a thriving society in the future.
Jason McGee is the instructor for ACM, but he also works at KDG as a project coordinator, which gives him plenty of real-world experience to share with students. He also offers a unique insight into his classes because he was an ACM student himself when the program first started. In fact, when Dan Keiser taught the program, Jason was one of his very first students.
Today, Jason loves getting to facilitate a learning environment where students can not only learn about design concepts but also apply what they have learned. “The program itself is unique because it’s project-based learning,” Jason says. “Students get to work on real-world projects, and they receive a lot of input from professionals in the field.” This input provides students with practical learning experiences they would not get if they were merely confined to a classroom.
“KDG has really shown me that they are what they preach. They are relationship-focused, and seeing how they care about people has pushed me to want to own my own firm and develop those kinds of relationships, too.”
The ACM program allows students to get a window into potential career opportunities. Kendra Soler, a former ACM student, is currently working as an intern for KDG—and she has high hopes for applying the lessons she has learned so far. “I’m planning to get a master’s degree in architecture, and I’d eventually like to own my own firm like Dan Keiser,” Kendra says. “KDG has really shown me that they are what they preach. They are relationship-focused, and seeing how they care about people has pushed me to want to own my own firm and develop those kinds of relationships, too.”
For students like Kendra, getting hands-on experience with a design firm was a crucial first step toward the future. ACM has motivated Kendra to dream big and build relationships with people around her. It provided her with the soft skills and professional exposure she needed to be successful. Through this program, she hasn’t just learned the basic rules of architecture and design. She has also learned the value of building relationships with potential clients—which means she’ll continue to invest in others in the same way her teachers and mentors from ACM and KDG have invested in her.
Daniel Kromer, another ACM student who is spending the summer interning with KDG, is still torn between two career paths—but going through the ACM program has made him feel equally prepared for both, which is why he can’t decide. “I’m torn between architecture and city planning right now,” says Daniel. “This program allowed me to see all the possibilities I have the opportunity to do with my skillset.”
As a person who loves the practical side of architecture, Daniel especially appreciated working with KDG during his time at the ACM program. “While the conceptual lessons weren’t as interesting to me, I found that seeing projects come to life at KDG was really inspiring,” Daniel says. Because of KDG’s close work with ACM, Daniel was exposed to the real-world applications of architecture—and those were what motivated him to pursue it as a career.
“My favorite part of instructing this course is seeing those ‘aha’ moments for students. It’s a good day when something finally clicks and students get excited about it.”
Students like Kendra and Daniel are the reason KDG loves partnering with the ACM program. They are the future of architecture, and they’ve been impressed with values and principles that are crucial for building long-term success in client relationships. “When I was a student, I remember falling in love with architecture for the first time,” says Jason McGee. “One of the teachers who impacted me was Dan Keiser, and I want to give students the same experience people like him gave to me.”
When professionals from the field come in and work with students, they can facilitate breakthrough moments that students might not otherwise have. “Students don’t always believe what their teachers say—but when someone from outside the classroom comes in and says it, it makes a difference,” explains Jason. “My favorite part of instructing this course is seeing those ‘aha’ moments for students. It’s a good day when something finally clicks and students get excited about it.”
The ACM program allows students to discover new and exciting possibilities for their careers. It is broad enough to provide exposure to several different careers, without forcing students to choose which direction they want to go. As teenagers prepare for college, they often feel like they need to have everything figured out already, which can be stressful and overwhelming. KDG wants to open unique doors for teens who are passionate about architecture and design, providing them with opportunities to learn more about what their careers could look like.
Building relationships with clients leads to successful designs—but this philosophy is just as important outside of the architecture business. Building relationships with students in the local community today leads to successful employees, entrepreneurs, and business owners in the future. By investing in the ACM program, KDG hopes to empower and equip students to serve clients well—wherever their careers take them.