Steve poses during the AIA Conference on Architecture.

Steven M. Knaub Jr., AIA, LEED AP

Steven M. Knaub Jr., AIA, LEED AP


Steven M. Knaub Jr., AIA, LEED AP


“Finding satisfaction in enhancing even the smallest design elements can be deeply rewarding.”

Architect Steven Knaub Jr. AIA, LEED AP, stands at the intersection of integrated design solutions and sustainability, boasting a career that spans over two decades with a significant tenure at Gannett Fleming. Blending his skills in art and math with a passion for impactful projects, Steve embodies the evolution of an architect deeply invested in shaping the built environment and the next generation of design professionals.

We asked Steve a few questions to get to know him better.

Why did you choose a career in architecture?

I was a practical kid. I was skilled in art and math, and before the end of elementary school, I ruled out being an astronaut, fine artist, or illustrator. I decided to put my strengths to work in design. I accomplished the career goal listed under my eighth-grade yearbook picture: Become an architect. I’m still passionate about the work!

Why Gannett Fleming?

I’m a boomerang employee — one of many Gannett Fleming team members who have liked it enough to have worked here twice! I chose Gannett Fleming because of its focus on durable buildings and sustainable architecture projects. I am passionate about working on projects that make a difference, and the company’s evolving national presence in the architectural field, coupled with its growing talent, size, and practice scope, resonates with me deeply. The leadership’s forward-thinking vision, emphasizing collaboration and design excellence, presents a stimulating environment where I can challenge myself and find inspiration among talented colleagues.

My journey with Gannett Fleming spans almost thirteen years, marked by a significant break that reinforced my appreciation for the firm. Initially, I joined the company in 2007. I contributed to noteworthy sustainable design projects like the Denver Commuter Rail Maintenance Facility and the Renewable Energy Education Center for Exelon. This period was crucial for my professional development, as I received extensive leadership and project management training, and the firm supported my pursuit of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional (LEED AP) credential. After a stint away to seek new experiences, I was thrilled to rejoin Gannett Fleming as architectural practice manager in 2022.

How long have you worked in your field? Tell us about your experience in your industry.

I’ve been in architecture for 27 years and still love the work! As a student at Drexel University, I participated in a co-op program where students balanced traditional classroom learning with practical, hands-on experience in architecture. My career in architecture has included time at six firms, and I have spent nearly half my career with Gannett Fleming.

My career experience has been one of community, not just building buildings but building people. I’ve had positive partnerships with my industry counterparts in engineering, contracting, etc., formulating relationships where we learn from each other.

In architecture, patience is key, as projects with generous budgets and greater creative freedom can be infrequent. Yet, finding satisfaction in enhancing even the smallest design elements can be deeply rewarding. I have found pleasure in making the most of the big and small design opportunities, squeezing interest and subtlety into humble projects that other consultants often deliver without extra care.

What impactful and innovative projects have you worked on recently?

Recently, I’ve had the privilege of contributing to projects that redefine the boundaries of conventional green buildings and sustainable development, particularly in net-zero-energy buildings designed to produce as much energy as they consume. One such initiative is the development of a new transit maintenance complex for the California Department of Transportation. This ambitious project aims to achieve net-zero energy consumption in part by integrating rooftop solar panels and solar canopies over the parking lot, marking a significant step forward in sustainable infrastructure.

The design of Caltrans’ new District 5 Maintenance Complex in San Luis Obispo, Calif., includes sustainable elements such as mass timber construction and weathering steel facades.

Another recently completed project, a Pennsylvania Army National Guard training center, generates approximately 65% of its energy needs from a 230-kilowatt rooftop solar array, covering 30% of its roof area. Adding 115-kilowatts of additional capacity would make the building standalone net-zero. We also helped this client with a megawatt-scale array across the street from the training center for net zero on campus, more than making up for the facility’s current net-zero shortfall.

These projects highlight the complexities and potential in advancing the capabilities of buildings to perform more efficiently. While there are many challenges in creating higher-performing buildings, what I find compelling is that for low-rise development in most climates, on-site net-zero energy is a conventional design problem. Well-insulated building envelopes with passive solar measures and high-efficiency building systems generally can accommodate enough rooftop and ground-mounted solar panels (ideally mounted over parking areas) to meet their yearly energy needs.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Be open to changing your mind. Denial and sticking too closely to tradition can hinder the success of projects, teams, and people.

What hobbies do you enjoy in your free time?

I love cycling because it offers fitness, freedom, and a unique way to experience the environment. It helps me observe the built and natural worlds at a tactile pace, and it reduces my carbon footprint. I’m also a year-round bicycle commuter. The ride home is downhill, so it’s a great way to relax, clear my head, and reset at the end of the work day.

I also enjoy traveling, trying new foods, listening to live music, going to the theater, running, crafting, and learning about technology.

Please tell us about your family and your favorite family tradition.

My wife and I met at the beach and had an island honeymoon. Other than traditional holidays, returning to the beach with family, usually in Maryland or the Florida Keys, has become a tradition. When our children were preschool and elementary ages, we went in the off-season, too. Last year, we finally dipped our toes in the Pacific Ocean at Mission Beach and Coronado Island in California!

What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?

I have creative outlets other than architecture. For instance, I sew. I have made several costumes and other projects while sitting at my sewing machine.


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