Ever since building the world’s first skyscraper in 1884, the Windy City has been a leader in design innovation — a tradition that continues today. Chicago architects drive eco-friendly and smart city design practices, create new ways of thinking about the relationship between people and urban spaces, and push the limitations of the sky. Architects from Chicago have made their mark in the global architectural industry. The Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, was designed by Chicago architect Adrian Smith and the tallest building in the world designed by a female-led firm can be found in the Windy City. The Chicago-based firms are ranked below based on their innovation, the quality of their, previous accolades and experience, and their active contributions to shaping the city’s urban landscape.

Top Architects

Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill (AS+GG)

Adrian Smith
Gordon Gill
Robert Forest

111 W Monroe Street, Suite 2300, Chicago, IL 60603

About Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill (AS+GG)

Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill designs and develops energy-efficient large-scale architecture. The firm was founded in 2006 by Adrian Smith, FAIA, Gordon Gill, and Robert Forest when the three left the prestigious Skidmore, Owings & Merrill firm. AS+GG’s works are found all over the world. One of its most famous works is the Masdar Headquarters in Abu Dhabi, the world’s first mixed-use zero-waste building. In an effort to create eco-friendly globally contextual designs, Smith’s designs have used solar, wind, and geothermal energy, sensitive not only to the geography and climate of his buildings but also to the cultural influences. His co-founder Gordon Gill maintains the philosophy of performance-based design, which has led to the world’s first net-zero-energy skyscraper, the Pearl River Tower. The firm’s third co-founder, Robert Forest, is a globally-recognized expert on the economics of sustainable design.

Featured Projects

In addition to its global work, AS+GG is involved in many public and cultural spaces throughout Chicago. The firm has been contracted to expand the current grounds of the Chicago Shakespeare Theater at Navy Pier. The Yard consists of 35,000-square-feet and has a second theater and lobby that connects to the company’s existing theater. Known for their sustainable focus, AS+GG added daylight sensors that tint the façade in direct sunlight, a feature that reduces the heating and cooling costs for the building. The new Chicago Shakespeare Theater received an Honorable Mention from the AIA and another Honorable Mention from the American Architecture Prize.

bKL Architecture

Thomas Kerwin
James Loewenberg

Chicago’s Friends of Downtown
Organization Best New Building Award,
AIA Mies van Der Rohe Citation of Merit Award,
Engineering News-Record Midwest Award of Merit

225 N. Columbus Drive, Suite 100, Chicago, IL 60601

About bKL Architecture

Founded in 2010, bKL Architecture is an architectural firm with award-winning national and international projects. The firm features an open studio environment that encourages a lively exchange of ideas between its associates. The Chicago-based firm also has an active office in Shanghai specializing in building design and urban plans. In 2010, bKL completed a master plan for Beijing’s central business district covering 1.5M-square-feet. The firm’s impressive projects are found on the pages of Forbes Magazine, The Chicago Tribune, Modern Luxury Interiors Magazine, and Mansion Global.

Featured Projects

Towering over the Chicago River is the Wolf Point West Chicago, a 48-story luxury residential skyscraper. Layered planes give its façade an elegant look and the lush landscaping that surrounds the tower pairs well with the riverbank. bKL designed the tower to achieve LEED Silver Certification which, the firm explains, exemplifies its commitment to sustainable development. The tower received the CISCO Project of the Year award for New Construction in 2016.

Booth Hansen

333 South Desplaines St. Ste. #100, Chicago, IL 60661

About Booth Hansen

Booth Hansen is a nationally recognized firm that has been in the Chicago architectural industry for the past four decades. Despite its longevity and acclaim, the firm has maintained its medium-sized team to provide focused services to its clients from the commercial, educational, and residential sectors. Founder Laurence O. Booth started the firm to gather a team of architects who can design establishments with an open creative process. Booth has been the design principal of the firm since its inception and he has won numerous awards during his leadership. He has won more than 20 AIA awards and is an International Distinguished Architect in Residence at Northwestern University.

Featured Projects

The Palmolive is a Chicago landmark that was originally built in 1929. Its Art Deco façade is considered an iconic landmark in the city and Booth Hansen wanted to modernize the establishment without tarnishing the striking original. The firm opted for an adaptive reuse effort and converted the office spaces into condominiums in 2008. Booth Hansen was hired again in 2015 to give its retail space a more updated look. The firm wanted the original structure to showcase luxury brands through the use of seamless large glass expanses. The adaptive reuse project was a success because the firm was able to use the Art Deco facade into elegant storefronts.

Epstein Global

600 West Fulton, Chicago, IL 60661

About Epstein Global

Multi-disciplinary architectural firm Epstein Gold has been in business since 1921 and its dedication for service has never failed. It might have been in business for almost a century but Epstein Gold has remained employee-owned all throughout. It also has a diversity and inclusion initiative program for its employees. This program aims to educate employees on the importance of diversity in the workforce. Besides its work philosophy, Epstein Gold is an internationally-renowned architectural and engineering firm with works that are found across the country.

Featured Projects

The firm has also been winning awards since 1989 and its most recent accolade is an Honor Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies of Illinois for its work on the Riverside Investment and Development. This 54-story commercial high rise was a very technical project that involved the reconstruction of the river wall and the Lake Street and Randolph Street bridge structures. The building was constructed over Amtrak rail lines and a public plaza was built over the tracks. The plaza’s former location used to be a site covered with inaccessible gravel. Green building features were also designed like its green roof where the stormwater would be routed to the east edge so it can be filtered and discharged into the Chicago River.

FitzGerald Associates

Pat FitzGerald

Home Builders Association of Greater Chicago Crystal Key for Innovation and Creativity for Technical Innovation Award, ULI Chicago Vision Award

912 West Lake Street, Chicago, Illinois 60607

About FitzGerald Associates

Founded in 1919, FitzGerald Associates was originally known as Rissman & Hischfeld Architects. It was one of the pioneering architectural firms in Chicago and designed many of the first skyscrapers on Lake Shore Drive and in Lincoln Park. It was rebranded into FitzGerald Associates when Pat FitzGerald became the president of the firm in 1986. Chairman and Managing Principal, Pat has contributed more than 20k units in Chicago, from student housing to luxury residences. Besides architecture and interior design, Fitz Gerald Associates offers a wide range of services like entitlements, feasibility studies, historical research, and adaptive reuse planning. The firm operates under the philosophy that a design should serve both the needs of the building’s occupants and its neighbors and municipalities. The firm has received several awards, such as the Home Builders Association of Greater Chicago’s Crystal Key for Innovation and Creativity for Technical Innovation Award and the ULI’s Chicago Vision Award.

Featured Projects

Located at the intersection of Madison Street, FitzGerald designed a highrise apartment complex that is a prominent visual fixture of Chicago’s expanding Greektown neighborhood.727 West Madison is a residential tower with street-level retail spaces, a business center, a pool and health club, and a 400-room hotel. The building will be Chicago’s tallest building west of the Kennedy Expressway. It is also designed for LEED certification.

Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture

Ray Hartshorne, Jim Plunkard, Megan Zack

232 N Carpenter Street, Chicago, IL 60607

About Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture

Ray Hartshorne and Jim Plunkard co-founded Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture in 1987 to provide versatile design services, including architecture, planning, and interior design. Hartshorne has since designed more than 25,000 residential units in multifamily complexes, while Plunkard has worked on respected projects like the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel and Soho House Chicago. The firm is known for its LEED-certified sustainable design, as well as for their expertise in historic preservation and adaptive reuse.

Featured Projects

Essex on the Park is a standout project of Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture because it is the first WELL Certified multi-family building in Chicago. The WELL Building Standard is an international standard that measures, certifies, and monitors the features of the building environment. It is the first building that was built on the historic district of South Michigan Avenue.

Hirsch-MPG LLC

Howard Hirsch AIA
Andrew Myren AIA
Richard Parks AIA
David Genc AIA

Association of Licensed Architects Renovation Award

225 W Hubbard Street, Suite 500 Chicago, IL 60654

About Hirsch-MPG LLC

Hirsch Associates has completed more than 600 projects since 1994. President and Founder, Howard Hirsch, AIA LEED AP, has over 30 years of experience as an architect, designer, project manager, and land planner. Its founder’s extensive knowledge in the industry has translated into the firm. This diverse architecture and planning firm has designed highrises, urban master plans, and transit designs, among numerous smaller commercial and residential projects. Throughout the years, Hirsch Associates has won various awards that highlight the firm’s versatility. Its most recent awards are an Excellence in Masonry Architectural Award and the Best Adaptive Reuse Project distinction for the Hotel Julian.

Featured Projects

Hirsch converted an abandoned rail yard into a lifestyle center called the Roosevelt Collection. The firm drafted a master plan that included two stories of retail, a cinema, six stories of residential units, and an urban plaza. One of the challenges was connecting the isolated Roosevelt Road to the Printers Row neighborhood. It was a success and the Hirsch Associates, alongside RTKL and Epstein, was able to transform a forgotten lot into a vibrant urban space that provided housing and leisure.

Loewenberg Architects

James Loewenberg

AIA National Honor Award, FIABCI Prix d’Excellence International Award

25 N Columbus Drive #100, Chicago, IL 60601

About Loewenberg Architects

Loewenberg Architects was established in 1919 as an architect for retail and hotel storefronts. After a hundred years, the firm is still in business and has now expanded to designing residential, retail, office, governmental, educational, health care, financial institutions, and large multi-use communities. James Loewenberg, AIA, president of Loewenberg Architects, is continuing the legacy established by his father and uncle. Besides being a prominent developer and architect, Loewenberg also serves as co-CEO of Magellan Development Group, an organization responsible for many of the city’s largest development projects. One of Loewenberg’s current master plans, Lakeshore East, earned an AIA National Honor Award for excellence in urban design and the Prix d’Excellence International Award from FIABCI, otherwise known as The International Real Estate Federation.

Featured Projects

Built in partnership with the Magellan Development Group is the Village Market Center. The 211,300-square-foot retail center has an array of shops that includes boutiques, nail salons, diners, and even a chiropractic center. Loewenberg Architects designed the building to have a floor plan that made the shops accessible. The Village Market was also designed to be accessible to its neighboring community residents.

Lothan Vanhook DeStefano Architecture (LVDA)

Avram Lothan
James DeStefano
Mary Ann Van Hook
Connie Miller

AIA Design Awards,
AIA Award for Divine Detail

57 W Grand Avenue, Suite 300, Chicago, IL 60654

About Lothan Vanhook DeStefano Architecture (LVDA)

Lothan Vanhook DeStefano Architecture (LVDA) boasts two AIA Fellow architects and a LEED-Certified architect—Founding Principal and Design Director Avram Lothan and Principal James DeStefano. James DeStefano, FAIA, has worked on commercial, residential, and civic projects that are found all over the country and various international locations like London and the Middle East. Beyond his design achievements, Avram Lothan, FAIA, is known for his teaching and humanitarian work. While Mary Ann Hook, LEED, is a strong advocate for minority and women-owned enterprises. All of the founders are expert planners whose projects include the Illinois State Capitol Complex Master Plan, as well as several plans and studies for the development of the University of Illinois campuses. Hook is the Principal in Charge and uses her 40 years of experience in the field to oversee the quality control and contract compliance for the firm. LVDA offers planning services, building and interior design, and LEED consulting. The firm has received AIA design awards, among others. Its most notable distinction is receiving an AIA Award for Divine Detail for its renovation of a lecture center at the University of Illinois.

Featured Projects

LVDA’s most distinguished project is the One South Dearborn located in the heart of the Loop. The 40 story-tower is the first LEED for Core and Shell Silver-rated highrise in the state. Its modern metal and glass exterior is complemented by a distinctive three-story glass and marble lobby and outdoor plaza covered in Italian granite. The building houses conference facilities, a fitness center, 8,000 square feet of retail space, and four floors of parking.

Pappageorge Haymes Partners (PHP)

George Pappageorge, David Haymes

AIA Design Excellence Awards

640 North LaSalle Street, Suite 400, Chicago, Illinois 60654

About Pappageorge Haymes Partners (PHP)

Founded by George Pappageorge, FAIA, and David Haymes, AIA, is Pappageorge Haymes Partners, an influential figure in Chicago’s urban planning for over 30 years. Pappageorge became one of the youngest members of the American Institute of Architects College of Fellows, while Haymes is perhaps best known for the development of One Museum Park, an all-residential skyscraper and the tallest building on the Southside of Chicago. Together, the partners have reinvented urban living by implementing adaptive reuse and mixed-use development plans. Some of its adaptive reuse projects have been recognized, including The 65th Infantry Regiment Borinqueneers Veteran’s Apartments which won the Urban Land Institute Chicago (ULIC) Vision Award.

Featured Projects

This entertainment mall in 1800 N. Clybourn is a testament to the firm’s expertise in restoration and adaptive reuse. Originally an industrial factory, the property was transformed into a three-story shopping mall that has a contemporary style. PHP refurbished the original design to give a contemporary edge unique to this shopping center. PHP also wanted to showcase the local art scene which is why the first-floor displays work from local artists. Other stunning features include a skylight roof, accessibility ramps, and many retail stores.

Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB)

Chris Pemberton
Christine Carlyle
Clara Wineberg
Devon Patterson
Gary Kohn
Jay Longo
Jim Curtin
John Lahey
Mark Frisch
Martin Wolf
Peter Noone
Sheyla Conforte
Strachan Forgan
Ted Strand
Tim Stevens

2012 Urban Land Institute’s (ULI) Vision Award for “Best Urban Project”
2011 National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Best in American Living Gold Award (BALA) in High-rise Multifamily Housing
2011 Emporis Skyscraper Award Top 10 in 2010 (International Buildings over 100 meters tall)
2011 Friends of Downtown Best New Residential Building
2010 CTBUH Tallest 20 in 2010, Tallest building completed in 2010 in North America
2010 Midwest Construction Award Project of the Year in Multi-Family Residential/ Hospitality

625 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 800, Chicago, IL60611

About Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB)

Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB) has been an influential figure in the Chicago architectural industry since 1931. Currently employing over 280 design professionals, the firm has three branches found in different states and it currently employs 100 LEED-accredited staff. SCB continues to take on a diverse array of assignments from multi-family residential or commercial designs to urban planning and laboratory or transportation projects. Many big names in the retail industry have trusted the firm with designing multiple branches and one of them is Crate and Barrel. The firm designed one of its biggest flagship stores found at Miracle Mile, Chicago.

Featured Projects

The Marquee at Block 37 is a 41-story skyscraper that has more than 600 residential apartments and a four-story retail mall. This building posted many challenges and one of them was connecting it to an existing underground transit station line. The structural engineering team was able to incorporate steel trusses and concrete mats that will limit structural loads to the perimeter. Perhaps its most striking feature is the undulating patterns that accent the façade.

Studio Gang

Jeanne Gang

American Architecture Prize Firm of the Year,
Emporis Skyscraper of the Year Award,
Architizer A+ Awards,
AIA National Honor Award for Interior Architecture

1520 W Division Street, Chicago, IL 60642

About Studio Gang

Studio Gang is an architecture and design collective that consists of over a hundred designers and planners. The collective was founded in 1997 by MacArthur Fellow Jeanne Gang, FAIA, Architectural Review’s 2016 Architect of the Year. Gang is a prominent American architect known for her sustainable design habits and the visionary ways her projects connect communities to their environments. The Architizer recently named Gang as one of the “50 Women Rocking the World of Architecture” and she was invited to join the panel of judges at the 2020 Gray Awards. Among many other notable recognitions, the Studio Gang has been shortlisted for the 2019 Dezeen Architect of the Year Award.

Featured Projects

The Aqua Tower is Studio Gang’s most important work because it is the tallest building in the world that is designed by a woman. The 28-story tower is a massive mixed-use tower combining a hotel, offices, rental apartments, condos, parking, and a green roof. The tower’s unique, wavy shape is functional as well as aesthetic. The design creates outdoor terraces meant to connect neighbors, as well as offering a vista view of Chicago and Lake Michigan. A spiral staircase connects the tower to a neighboring public park. Aqua Tower has won several distinctions and, recently, AIA Illinois recognized the tower as one of the “Great Places” in the state.