With a “significant portion” of its technical staff comprised of women, structural engineer Keast & Hood has been an anomaly in a traditionally male-dominated milieu for more than a decade—“a rarity in the engineering profession,” says Denise Richards, a firm veteran and majority shareholder.
Keast & Hood achieved another notable designation on June 8 when the Philadelphia-based firm received national certification as a woman-owned enterprise. Only approximately 13% of construction-related companies were owned by women as of 2018, according to a survey conducted by Randstad, a Dutch multinational human resource consultant.
“I’m excited for Keast & Hood to be certified as a WBE because it recognizes the diversity that has been characteristic of the firm for many years,” Richards said in a statement announcing the certification.
The Women’s Business Enterprise and Woman-Owned Small Business certification comes approximately six months after Richards and John Davis obtained ownership of the firm, known for projects such as the restoration of Philadelphia’s City Hall, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and several other iconic buildings in the city. Keast & Hood helped Robert A.M. Stern Architects design the Museum of the American Revolution, also in Philadelphia.
Richards’ status as majority shareholder made the firm eligible for the certification from WBENC-East, a regional certifying partner of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC).
In addition to being majority woman-owned, the firm also says that 37% of the staff is female, including five licensed structural engineers. The firm also says the designation allows them to help clients fulfill supplier diversity goals.
“This certification reflects the firm in addition to its ownership,” Richards says. “We value the diversity of our team, and we believe that it benefits both Keast & Hood and our clients.”
On Jan. 1, Richards and Davis became the firm’s third generation of ownership. Former owners Frederick Baumert, Constantine Doukakis and Thomas Normile helped manage the transition and the transfer of institutional knowledge.
Richards leads some of Keast & Hood’s institutional projects and has been involved in such notable projects as Fashion District Philadelphia. She is a founding member of the Delaware Valley Association of Structural Engineers’ women in structural engineering committee and is co-founder of the DVASE sustainable design committee.
Davis’ historic preservation projects include the Arlen Specter Center for Public Policy/Roxboro House at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia; the Van Amringe Building/Sterling House in Delaware City, Del.; and the Museum of the American Revolution. He is past president of the Delaware Valley Association of Structural Engineers.