Learning communities nurture the intangible yet invaluable—minds eager for gaining and sharing knowledge. Yet, the higher education marketplace is experiencing rapid transformation across the spectrum including technology, funding, pedagogy, resiliency, partnering and demographics. At SmithGroup, our team of higher education specialists embraces these changes and the role that design can play. We are focused on the future of this dynamic ecosystem while respecting the context and legacy of the institution and are dedicated to the mission of higher education. We design places that ignite curiosity and nurture innovation. These environments embrace new technologies and pedagogies. They foster collaboration, inspiration and engagement. They inspire future leaders. Partnering with our clients, we challenge current models and forecast how campus and student experiences will evolve over time—advancing education through design. 



Across a global network of offices, SmithGroup’s Higher Education team leads the development of strategic, forward-looking planning and design for institutions of higher learning throughout the world. Offering services in design, campus planning and campus analytics & strategy, our integrated, interdisciplinary team unites architects, campus planners, engineers, strategists, landscape architects and other specialized professionals who have spent their careers dedicated to serving the vast varieties of academia. Because of our integration across markets—healthcare, research, workplace, urban design and education—we are able to help clients navigate the greatest challenges impacting their institutions from all sides. That depth of experience and breadth of talents has led to resonant and relevant solutions for more than 700 Higher Education clients spanning Ivy League schools, major public research universities, local community colleges and private liberal arts institutions. 



Chris Purdy Higher Education

Chris Purdy, Vice President, Director of Higher Education

As director of the firm's Higher Education Practice, Chris oversees master planning, renovation, expansion and new construction projects for academic clients. "The way architects create place and shape public spaces fascinates me," he says. "My focus now is on providing thought leadership to our college and university clients as they respond to their students' educational needs." 

Learn more about Chris

Doug Kozma Higher Education

Doug Kozma, Vice President, Director of Campus

"I enjoy translating strategy into physical solutions-turning bold ideas into reality," explains Doug. "Campus Planning and Landscape Architecture offer a dynamic professional canvas for me.” As SmithGroup's Director of Campus, Doug's passion is the academic environment. He channels his energy into integrated planning, focusing on relationship building, team leadership, innovation and principle-based design.

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Working with SmithGroup... was a wonderful experience. The creativity, functionality, future-focused design and their team’s professionalism was on display at all times. The facility itself is an amazing addition to a campus undergoing a significant culture shift and has placed much needed focus on health and wellness.

Brian Mills
Director of Campus Recreation and Wellness, University of Houston–Clear Lake


GateWay Community College Integrated Education Building

Designing With Purpose: Putting the "Community" in Community College

For many students, alumni, faculty and higher education administrators, the term “community college” has a double meaning. The first relates to its geographical reach, as the catchment area of these colleges usually serves students from adjacent communities. The second meaning runs much deeper and is commonly linked to the institution’s mission to enrich the lives of students beyond academia.

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Contact Us

Chris Purdy
Vice President, Director of Higher Education

(313) 442-8315
chris.purdy [at] smithgroup.com

Doug Kozma
Vice President, Director of Campus

(734) 669-2760
doug.kozma [at] smithgroup.com