Architect Biographies

Kennard, Shirley Kerr

“Draw. Learn how to draw (by hand), regardless. (Learn) to sketch your ideas quickly…And go on jobs as much as you can.”
Interview, November 23, 2014

Shirley Kerr Kennard began her career in Washington DC with architect Horace Peaslee in 1950. After seeing her thesis renderings at Cornell, he invited her to work on a competition for the remodeling of a mansion on Massachusetts Avenue into the Cosmos Club. His firm won the competition and it proved prescient for her career. In an office of only three people, she had the opportunity to visit job sites and see construction first hand.

When work slowed down, Kennard joined Faulkner, Kingsbury & Stenhouse Architects, a firm specializing in hospital design. There she met architect H. Hunter Kennard. They married in April 1954. In August, The Washington Post described their residence—a gut remodel of a 14’ wide rowhouse on I Street—as an “architect’s holiday” in reference to how architects choose to spend their free time.

With a growing family, the Kennards moved to Montgomery County. They opened their own firm in 1958 so they could practice architecture and maintain a family life. Work was steady and it brought a rhythm to their lives. In 1959, the National Capital Planning Commission selected Kennard & Kennard Architects to complete the master plan for Columbia Plaza, an urban renewal project in northwest Washington DC. They had six weeks to develop the conceptual design for an apartment community of 800 residents. Much of their vision can be seen in the project’s final development, which brought them exposure and additional commissions.

In 1967, they began a complete redesign of their 1920s bungalow to incorporate an office and living space suitable for a family of four. It won them the 1969 Wood Structure Design Award from the National Forest Products Association for “exemplifying the virtues of lumber and demonstrating the workability of wood.” The Kennards were a true team throughout their career, collaborating on over 500 projects in Washington DC and Maryland, two thirds of which were custom designed homes. When they didn’t agree on a design, they would start over. Kennard reflects positively on her life choices, knowing she and Hunter have shared a full life together and have made a difference in people’s lives.

Turrie Herndon Residence, Washington DC (c. 1972)
Window Detail - Turrie Herndon Residence, Washington DC (c. 1972)
Columbia Plaza Concept Drawings for National Capital Planning Commission (1959)


1929 – Born Shirley Jenn Kerr in Tulsa, Oklahoma on January 9 to Arthur John Kerr & Lottie Lucille Kerr

1939 – Family builds a second floor on their bungalow

1945-50 – Attends Cornell University and starts in Liberal Arts College; Switches to Architecture in 2nd year; Spends summers making up design studios and working for an architecture firm in Pittsburgh where she moved with her family; Graduates with honors and Bachelor of Architecture; Becomes a member of AIA, Association of Women in Architecture

1950-53 – Works as draftsman in office of Horace W. Peaslee in Washington DC; Project: Cosmos Club Remodeling & Addition, Washington DC

1953-55 – Designer at Faulkner, Kingsbury & Stenhouse Architects, Washington DC

1954 – Receives license to practice architecture in Washington DC; Marries Henry Hunter Kennard; The Washington Post features their Foggy Bottom home renovation in “For and About Women” Section, August 29

1955 – Son Peter is born

1956 – “An Artist Views Foggy Bottom” Rendering in the Washington Post, May 16

1957 – Becomes member of AIA Washington Metropolitan Chapter

1958 – Daughter Lisa is born; Moves to Chevy Chase; Opens firm of Kennard & Kennard Architects

1959 – Project: Columbia Plaza Concept Design, Washington, DC

1961 – Projects: Philip & Katherine Graham Residence Remodel and Addition, Georgetown; Mr. & Mrs. George S. Wheat Jr. Residence, Bethesda

1962 – Project: Mr. & Mrs. Howard K. Smith High Acres Estate Remodeling and Addition, Bethesda (Projects on estate continued through 1990)

1964-65 – Projects: McNesby Residence, Rockville; Woman’s Club of Chevy Chase Addition, Chevy Chase

1966 – Projects: Radio Operators’ Fight Crew School Remodeling, Patuxent; Naval Air Station; Sister of Mercy Generalate Remodeling, Bethesda

1967 – Projects: Cant Residence, Upper Marlboro; Kennard Residence and Home Office on Thornapple Street, Chevy Chase (completed 1969)

1969 – Kennard Residence wins a Wood Structure Design Award from the National Forest Products Association

1971 – Husband becomes President of AIA Washington Metropolitan Chapter; Project: Virgin Residence, Chevy Chase Village

1973-75 – Member of AIA Housing Committee, Washington Metropolitan Chapter

1975 – Projects: Campbell Residence, Chevy Chase Village; Hanson Residence, Washington, DC, featured in Home section of the Washington Post

1976 – c. Project: Daniel Residence Addition

1987 – Project: Sterrett Residence Remodel & Major Addition, Chevy Chase Village

1989 – Projects: St. John’s Episcopal Church Alterations & Memorial Garden, Chevy Chase; Elizabeth Condominium, Chevy Chase

1990 – Project: O’Neill Residence Renovation and Addition, Chevy Chase Village

1997 – Moves to Annapolis; Transfers to Potomac Valley Chapter AIA; Renovates waterside home residence in Whitehall Beach to be part of sailing community

2003 – Retires from architecture practice; does small jobs for fun & friends

2015 – Moves to retirement community in Mitchellville with Hunter

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