Rich and Steve 1974l


Rich and Noam 2017 Mt Rose

Rich Burns, Founder / Special Projects

Master of Science, Visual Design
Institute of Design
Illinois Institute of Technology
Chicago, IL

Bachelor of Arts, Design/Fine Arts
Indiana University
Bloomington, IN

“I take great satisfaction in having passed the GNU Group to Phil and the new generation of leaders. It is especially gratifying to watch GNU continue its legacy into its fifth decade.”

As founder and president through the firm’s first two decades, Rich was instrumental in establishing the GNU Group as one of the country’s most accomplished environmental branding, signage, and marketing communications firms serving the real estate and professional services markets. GNU antecedents included Burns Graphic Design, started in 1970 with his brother Steve. Their practice evolved into SWA Communications, a division of The SWA Group, landscape architects and planners, and ultimately the GNU Group.

Rich and the GNU Group were at the forefront of the professional discipline of Environmental Graphic Design. He was a founder of The Society of Environmental Graphic Design (SEGD), served as its president during its formative years and in 1987, was selected as the Society’s first Fellow.

Rich is a long time member of The Urban Land Institute where he had the opportunity to develop their workshop on Marketing Real Estate. The curriculum is based on the methodology used by GNU in assisting its real estate clients. He taught the workshop for over a decade and also contributed the chapter on marketing for ULI’s seminar text book, Real Estate Development, Principles and Process.

Rich enjoys an emeritus-plus position with GNU. While no longer engaged in the day-to-day activities he remains an important contributor to projects and GNU’s practice.

When I’m not at GNU:
– Am a zealous competitive Master Swimmer
– Playing with my grandson