A Lasting Legacy: Co-Presidents Kirk Horner and John Southard Retire After a Combined 74 Years
Posted on December 19, 2023
By Hollis + Miller Architects

Hollis + Miller Architects has flourished over its 73-year lifespan, pioneered by only six presidents’ leadership during that time. In 2007, Kirk Horner and John Southard were named co-presidents, the first in the firm’s history, and now on December 22, 2023 they retire after successful careers building a legacy. Each brought their own expertise and experience to the table, complementing the other’s unique strengths and together providing a dynamic leadership team. As we look back on the journey they’ve taken, including a number of successes and hardships, it’s hard to condense 74 combined years of Hollis + Miller history into one short story, but their passion and dedication to our firm, our people, our practice and our clients has left a lasting impact – one that will continue to ripple for many years.

Continued Connections

Anyone who crosses paths with Kirk or John would quickly realize they are motivated by making connections with others. On most First Wednesdays, John was up with the sun and helping cook breakfast for the office, brightening everyone’s mornings with his humor. Kirk was never too short on time to lend a listening ear about staff members’ home renovations, life updates, or most importantly, talking about our pups. Hollis + Miller evolved not just as an architectural firm, but a purposeful firm supporting its teams and its clients. Under their leadership, overall company culture was of the utmost importance and these two led by example. Staff tripled during their tenure to nearly 120 full-time employees, and new initiatives were brought forth to encourage continuous learning and promoting well-being. Growth is a good thing, but Kirk and John recognized retention and support were the ultimate indicators of a thriving workplace. A place where employees can connect and be empowered would ultimately lead to what makes us most successful – our people. This led to our mantra “grow the individual, grow the firm” which still holds true today.

Enduring Achievements

A shift to solely focusing on educational design, an expansion to Colorado and the achieved goal of becoming AIA Kansas City’s Firm of the Year in 2017 are just a few of the big achievements that come to mind when reflecting on Kirk and John’s impact. The joining of two office locations into a centralized Kansas City home in the Crossroads and navigating a recession and global pandemic debt-free also demonstrate how the pair led the firm with their heart and wisdom. They were both advocates for Hollis + Miller’s focus on designing the future of education. This focus resulted in staff who are passionate about what they do and set high standards for design expectations. Our deep involvement in school communities would not be felt to such an extent without the commitment of Kirk and John’s time, knowledge and overall passion to continuously grow Hollis + Miller throughout their tenure.

“Kirk and John have left Hollis + Miller an infinitely better place. We will continue to place an emphasis on investing in our people – a legacy that will live on for years to come,” says President Michelle Chavey.

A Lasting Legacy

Over 100 educational institutions – both K-12 and higher education – more than 3,000 projects, and countless individuals have witnessed Kirk and John’s tireless work ethic, mentorship and friendship. While they will no longer be at the helm of Hollis + Miller, their legacy will always guide our course as we continue to design the future of education.

We are so grateful to have learned from two leaders who place such a value on relationships and growth. As Kirk and John set out on their next adventure, they’ve established a solid foundation for Hollis + Miller to continue designing the future. Please join us in wishing them well and give a big “thank you” to the two of them for the impact they’ve made.

A Lasting Legacy: Co-Presidents Kirk Horner and John Southard Retire After a Combined 74 Years