Founder, FAIA, Senior Principal / Kansas City
Since joining Populous in 1985, Santee has become one of the most widely acclaimed sports designers in the world. In his 30 years of experience he has become known for his intuitiveness and insightfulness, developing a portfolio of award-winning projects that have helped bring urban life back to cities across the nation, including Minneapolis, New York, Pittsburgh, Houston, Denver, Miami and St. Louis.
Considered an urban designer first and architect second, Santee’s philosophy is that urban sites shape the buildings he designs. These buildings are more than just form; they also capture the spirit and emotion of the place, creating distinct, authentic moments that last forever for the millions of fans who enjoy his buildings.
From modern Miami to gritty Pittsburgh to an emerging campus in Waco, none of Santee’s projects follow the same formula, but what makes his designs impactful and spectacular are the way they relate to and draw together their communities around sport. His experience with more than 60 projects includes iconic examples of urban design, place making, trend setting, tradition and sustainable design that have transformed cities and forever changed the way fans experience the game. He has successfully selected more than 40 sites for sports venues spanning the country, while the buildings he has designed — highlighted by major league ballparks, collegiate arenas and stadiums, spring training and minor league ballparks — are each fitting for their unique site and surroundings. His designs have served as an inspiration for a new type of sports experience, one that is an extension of a city, community and culture.
Santee serves as the chairman of Populous’ global board and was instrumental in guiding the firm in its transition to a new brand in 2009. He received bachelor’s degrees in architecture and environmental design from the University of Kansas. Santee is a registered architect and a member of the American Institute of Architects, the Society for American Baseball Research, Stadium Managers Association and the Urban Land Institute. He is a frequent speaker and author on trends in sports architecture and considered a thought leader on stadia design. In 2004, Santee was named Sports Business Journal’s Most Influential Person in Sports Facility Design and Development and was named 2010 Sportsman of the Year by the Minneapolis Star Tribune. In 2014, he was named a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, the organization’s highest honor bestowed upon an architect.