David Johnson

  • David Johnson SmithGroup Detroit
  • Detroit 02 Location
  • david johnson hobby smithgroup

"I view the built environment—which appears static—as a dynamic setting," says David. "It’s similar to a theatrical stage, with drama, intrigue, compelling dialogue and durable meaning." This human experience is the foundation of David’s approach to architecture; he is widely recognized for his application of human psychology principles to the design of all varieties of learning environments, which are experiencing historic levels of change. "My early career was all about ‘what will it look like and how will we build it?’" he notes. "Now it’s more the ‘why’ of design strategy—working directly with client leadership to define needs, priorities and opportunities for transformation." He sees design becoming more and more collaborative engaging a broader platform of social scientists, designers, clients, and co-creators. There’s one place, though, where David is clearly captain of the ship: aboard his sailboat on Lake Saint Clair. "Sailing is my primary interest outside of work; knots and tension," he quips.