Robert D. Kleinschmidt was born in Chicago, Illinois on September 29, 1939. Kleinschmidt attended the University of Illinois from 1957–63, from which he received a Bachelor of Architecture. From 1963 to 1964, Kleinschmidt pursued a graduate degree of Architecture and Landscape Design at Columbia University in New York City. Like his future business partner, Kleinschmidt began his professional career at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, in 1964. Following the dissolution of Powell/Kleinschmidt in 2009, Kleinschmidt founded RDK Design Ltd., where he currently remains. Kleinschmidt has been widely honored during his career, including the William Kinney Fellows Traveling Fellowship (1964); induction into the Interior Design Hall of Fame (1989); and Outstanding Leadership in the Interior Design field, International Interior Design Association (2007).
Powell/Kleinschmidt also won the AIA's Distinguished Firm Award (1990) and was cited by Contract Design magazine as one of the Top 20 interior design firms of the last quarter-century (2000). Significant and award-winning Powell/Kleinschmidt commissions include the Gretchen Bellinger Executive Office and Warehouse (1983); Mayer, Brown & Platt Law Offices (1988); 880 Lake Shore Drive Residence, Chicago, Illinois (1989); Paul Stuart Men's Store (1995); Briarwood Country Club (2000); and the 200 West Madison Atrium, Chicago, Illinois (2006).