David Kirk

Title:  President/CEO

Current / Past Place of Employment:  DNK/City of Cincinnati/A M Kinney

How many years have you been in the region?  Forty years

Where are you originally from?  Dayton, Ohio

Age: 65

David Kirk is a licensed architect in five states with over 30 years of diverse architectural experience on public and commercial projects. Since 1986, he has been President/CEO of DNK Architects, Inc.(DNK).  Through David's leadership as Principal-in-Charge, his firm has completed a portfolio of projects that are diverse in both size and scope.  He has extensive experience working with various private companies and government agencies.  His work helped develop a number of projects that support economic development and entrepreneurship. David worked with the National Organization of Minority Architects (past Mid-West VP) to develop programs to introduce the profession of architecture to African American youth around the country.  Past and current professional affiliations include the African American CEO Roundtable,  Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber Roundtable, National Organization of Minority Architects (Past Mid-west VP), Cincinnati AIA (American Institute of Architects-Past Treasurer),  Leadership Cincinnati Class XXIII , Board Member Hamilton County Board of Building Standards, Architectural Summer C.A.M.P. Co-Founder, Green Umbrella Board, Past member of Cincinnati Symphony Board, Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance Board and past Boy Scout Scoutmaster and Dan Beard Council Board Member.

As President/CEO of DNK Architects David led the firm in the development of several of the area’s significant projects:

  • Cincinnati Public Schools Master Plan
  • Team member on the design and development of the Reds Ballpark
  • Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center – Two New Medical Office Bldgs.
  • Dayton Public Schools – Four new school buildings
  • Local architectural firm for programming & planning of the Cincinnati Convention Center Expansion
  • Team member on the design of the Cincinnati Convention Center Expansion
  • Architect for the Cincinnati Streetcar system
  • Architect for the Greater Cincinnati Foundation new Headquarters
  • Team member of the development of Mercy Health Headquarters
  • Team member on the renovation of Mercy Anderson and Mercy Jewish hospitals.

Looking at your professional career, outside of family and friends, where have you garnered your support? 
This a difficult question to answer. As I looked for mentors in the profession, there were few professional licensed architects to have conversations with. Once I drove to Chicago to spend the day with a fellow Black elder statesman in the profession to get guidance. In the profession of architecture there are approximately 1,500 licensed Black architects out of 140,000 licensed architects. I seek advice from other successful professionals.

I also spend time each day reading and meditating on scripture to find inspiration.

What legacy do you hope to leave behind?
I hope that I am remembered as a person that cared about the welfare of others. And that I liked wearing hats.

How do you define success?
Success is the ability to stay the course even when it is the darkest. Finding hope when others tell you that you are done. Many times, SUCCESS is based on the ability to see yourself at the other end…

Small tasks done well add up to a successful project.  Projects done well add up to business success.  It is the small steps taken consistently that generate repeat business.

What is your advice for emerging African American leaders?
The advice I have emerging for African American leaders is the advice that was given to me by my best friend’s mother.  She gave me this advice a month after I graduated from Howard University. I was at her house just saying hello because I had not seen her in a while.  As she walked up the sidewalk from her house, I was telling her that I wanted to become successful and own my own architectural firm. She turned to me and said, “Baby be patient.” I know, in this instantaneous society where everything seems to happen in a blink of an eye, it is hard to wait for your turn.  But, it will come if you continue to be patient and develop the skills required when your chance comes to lead.  Those that get there without much effort tend not to stay there long.

Tell us about something that most people do not know about you.
I became an architect because of my mother who started to tell me at the age of four that she wanted me to be an architect and own my own business. She would remind me of this from time to time. My father would make sure that I had the opportunity to follow that dream. Keep in mind that she had never met an architect.

I am a regular blood donor. I am in the eight-gallon club.  I find it very rewarding to donate a part of me to help others live.


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