Edward Frenette


Principal Emeritus


  • Joined SMMA in 1989 as Director of Design from Setter Leach & Lindstrom in Minneapolis
  • Advises clients on the design of buildings of various typologies, with a focus on educational environments for successful 21st century schools; has led SMMA teams on more than 60 K-12 projects 
  • Lectures and writes on design and design quality, and mentors SMMA design staff
  • Recognized with seven AIA Honor Awards, three Urban Design Awards from AIA Minnesota’s Committee on Urban Environment, an Outstanding Educational Design Award from AIA/CEFPI, and the national Richard W. Riley Award for Excellence in Design for Education

Design Thinking

From his 40+ years of experience as an architect and client advisor, Ed knows that the best way to achieve good design is to first know what you want to accomplish. “I advise clients to boil things down to their essence, to work on a consensus for what is needed and what is not. When there is lack of clarity, no one is really sure what to expect or how to measure success.”

“Solving the puzzle at the front end of a design project and creating alternatives to satisfy the client leads to a building that is a joy for the client to occupy and brings joy to everyone who sees it.”

Writing the Book on Design

Ed is the author of the design chapters in the new AIA Handbook of Professional Practice, 15th Edition. He provided peer review for other AIA Handbook authors, and also advised the publishing team on content selections.