This list includes both licensed architects and residential designers who can both design stunning homes but differ in other services offered. Given the growing cost of building a custom house in Chicago, it’s important to know what professionals are qualified to assist you. Architects are trained in design, engineering, and project management and have passed a licensing exam. Residential designers typically don’t manage projects and plans will need to be approved by a structural engineer. Whether you choose to hire an architect or a residential designer will depend on your project needs and complexity.
AIA Chicago Design Awards,
Highland Park’s Historic Preservation Commission Awards
595 Elm Place, Highland Park, Chicago, IL 60035
Trump Tower Condo; Chicago, IL; Becker Architects; Darris Lee Harris Job#1289
About Becker Architects
Founded in 1982 by Principal Richard Becker, AIA, LEED AP, award-winning Becker Architects has worked on rehabs, additions, and new construction projects throughout the Chicago metropolitan area. It has received numerous awards and notes in publications such as AIA Chicago, the Driehaus Foundation, Remodeling, Chicago Home, Better Homes and Gardens, House Beautiful, and Traditional Home. The firm has also been featured in a number of HGTV productions, including the 13-week reality series Dream House. With a focus on preservation, the firm has also received many awards from Highland Park’s Historic Preservation Commission.
Becker’s intensive rehab project known as “High Above Chicago” is a 3,400-square-foot apartment found in a downtown high-rise, with a stunning view of Lake Michigan and the Chicago River. The condo opened up the tightly compartmentalized space, merging the living and dining room areas. Lacquered doors separate the master bedroom from the living room, allowing the master suite free access to the main living space.
2215 West School St., Chicago, IL 60618
About Blender Architecture
Blender Architecture is the product of Maria Segal and Richard Blender’s five decades in the architectural industry. Both founders specialize in residential projects with a unique structural approach. The detail-oriented architects are very meticulous with the materials they are working on because they want their designs to be elevated by well-crafted resources. The firm sets itself apart by designing multi-sensory projects that are uniquely made for each client. These are projects that utilize materials that play on light and have unique textures. The goal of every Blender Architecture project is a space that will promote a healthier lifestyle inspired by its surroundings.
The Resurrection Home is a unique project, because the site was a former funeral parlor. What was left is a dilapidated building that was fully gutted but there were still remnants of the original facade. Blender Architecture wanted to design a modern home that had an old gothic charm. For its entryway, the original facade of the funeral parlor was refurbished back to its former glory but the interiors were given a brand new contemporary look. The living room is an homage to the former gothic charm of the space. It has a black and white color palette and it has a very minimalist design. This stand-out home remodel received an American Institute of Architects (AIA) Chicago Honor Award last 2012.
AIA Design Awards
333 South Desplaines Street, Suite 100, Chicago, IL 60661
About Booth Hansen
Established in 1980, Booth Hansen’s projects include commercial, cultural, educational, multi-family, and single-family designs. The firm has received over 90 design awards; 36 of those were from AIA. Principal and founder Laurence Booth, FAIA, leads the conceptual development of all the firm’s projects. With degrees from MIT, Harvard, and Stanford, Booth has maintained close ties to the academic study of architecture and engineering. He is a clinical professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Richard C. Halpern/Rise International Distinguished Architect in Residence at Northwestern University. Previously, he also served as a visiting professor for Harvard, the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois.
This Beverly Shores residence received a 2014 AIA Chicago Distinguished Building Honor Award, as well as the Grand Award for Best Custom Home at the 2016 Gold Nugget Awards sponsored by Builder Magazine. Found in the dunes on the south side of Lake Michigan, this two-story home is mostly glass, connecting to its natural environment. The 4,200-square-foot home occupies only nine percent of the property, leaving over 76 percent of the site undisturbed dune grass and woodlands. Its sustainable focus doesn’t end there, however. The residence uses a geothermal ground source heat pump, in-slab radiant heating, and high-efficiency forced air for a low-carbon footprint.
Brininstool + Lynch
AIA Design Excellence Awards,
American Architecture Awards,
Architectural League of New York Emerging Voice in Architecture
1144 W. Washington Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60607
About Brininstool + Lynch
In 1989, David Brininstool and Brad Lynch established the eponymous Brininstool + Lynch. Both were named Emerging Voice’s in architecture by the Architectural League of New York, an award which spotlights individuals with distinct design voices that have the potential to influence the disciplines of architecture. The firm was named 2019 Firm of the Year and, in addition, has amassed over 50 major design awards, 29 of those being from AIA Chicago. Brininstool + Lynch has a wide range of clients from the commercial sector, but it is best known for the gorgeous private homes it has designed.
The award-winning Wood House has been featured in numerous publications and has received five major design awards including both AIA Chicago’s Divine Detail and Interior Architecture Awards, North American Copper in Architecture Award, American Architecture Award, and Residential Architect Design Award. B + L was guided by the principles of privacy, sustainability, and indoor-outdoor continuity. The focal point of the L-shaped home is a private courtyard. Despite its name, the 5,800-square-foot home is built with brick and copper and balanced with a floor-to-ceiling glass wall, an open floor plan, and glass exterior doors that lead into the courtyard.
Chicagoland Real Estate Forum Gold Key Award,
Luxe Interiors and Design’s Gold List
1010 S. Wabash, Chicago, IL 60605
About bba Architects
bba Architects specializes in high-end single-family residences that range from urban townhouses to lakefront cottages. Gary Beyerl, AIA, co-founded the firm in 1993 with his now-retired partner Steven Burns. He was joined by Edward Twohey, AIA, in 1994, who was named principal five years later. The firm focuses on creating sustainable homes that consume the least energy when built. In 2011, the firm won a Gold Key Award from the Chicagoland Real Estate Forum for their design of a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Chicago home. In 2017, the firm made the Luxe Interiors and Design’s Gold List, a guide of architects, designers, and home builders whose projects were featured in the magazine.
The firm proved they can work from modern to classic with their single-family residence known as the Classic Georgian. Inspired by Georgian homes in London, this stately home features a brick façade, using an English bond pattern. Inside, an elliptical stairwell joins the home’s four levels. The home was built for the Middlefork luxury Home Builders based in the Loop. It won an AIA Citation of Merit in 2016.
AIA Citation of Merit
9 E. 24th Street, Chicago, IL 60616
About Collective Office
Collective Office was founded by Principal Jeff Klymson, a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), to focus on both practice and research for residential and commercial clients. Through his practice, Klymson attempts to create “a more intuitive connection for people in the built environment.” He also teaches at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) where he received his own Master of Architecture degree. Collective Office specializes in residential projects that have a connection with their physical environments. Its residential portfolio has a signature contemporary look that is unique to the firm; this is why its works are often featured on architectural websites like Dwell and Curbed.
A retired couple commissioned Collective Office to design a prairie home on grassland overlooking Lake Geneva. This contemporary interpretation of a prairie home was divided into three. The clients wanted a bungalow that looked like it was emerging from the crest of the prairie. From afar, the three sections have a classic gabled silhouette. This welcomes natural light from under the vaulted ceilings. Each volume has independent functions. The first section is located near the pool house and has bedrooms and bathrooms, while the middle area is for the living area and the kitchen. Lastly, the third section has a garage and screened-in porch that has an amazing view.
Gibbons, Fortman & Associates
ICAA 2016 Acanthus Award of Arete
900 N Franklin St, #612, Chicago, IL 60610
About Gibbons, Fortman & Associates
Gibbons, Fortman & Associates is a Chicago-based firm dedicated to creating custom projects that are intended to be timeless in style and an authentic reflection of the people who live there. Established in 2000 the firm continues with President Scott Fortman, AIA, LEED AP, at the helm. Nick Peterson, NCARB, LEED AP, joins him as partner and Richard Gibbons, AIA, as partner emeritus and design consultant. The firm’s designs range from classical to modern and are crafted in collaboration with its clients, landscape architects, and interior designers. Its projects have been featured in Architectural Digest, Luxe, and Chicago Home, and are recognized with both national and regional awards, including the Institute of Classical Architecture and Art’s 2016 Acanthus Award of Arete.
Paying homage to the Chicago Prairie Style, this home was designed to wrap around a 150-year-old oak tree at its opening and highlight lakefront views at the rear. This intimate connection to the outdoors continues throughout the home, with tall windows lining its diverse spaces: a spa area, a potting room, a yoga room, gym, billiard room, kitchenette, home theater, and a genuine 80s video arcade. The home cascades onto an inground pool area in its backyard.
Kipnis Architecture and Planning
Nathan Kipnis, FAIA
Chicago Magazine Green Award,
Natural Home Magazine Home of the Decade
1642 Payne Street, Evanston, IL 60201
About Kipnis Architecture and Planning (KAP)
Kipnis Architecture and Planning was one of the first firms to sign AIA’s 2030 Challenge, which calls for all new buildings, developments, and major renovations to be carbon-neutral by 2030. The firm is best known for exceptional sustainability efforts while taking overall excellence in design just as seriously, and designs new construction homes with modern designs to sensitively rehabilitate historic homes. The firm was founded in 1993 by Nathan Kipnis, a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and a LEED Accredited Professional certified in Building Design and Construction (LEED AP BD&C), who earned a Master of Architecture with an emphasis in Energy Conscious Design from Arizona State University. He serves on the AIA National 2030 Commitment Working Group, as well as the Citizens Greener Evanston group. Among other notables, KAP designs have won the Chicago Magazine Green Award, Home of the Decade by Natural Home Magazine, and the Best Residential Architect from Better Magazine.
KAP designed one of the first LEED Platinum homes in Glencoe, Illinois in 2011. Another home, located in Evanston, is also LEED Platinum and is aging-in-place certified. The firm used reclaimed materials that are all locally-sourced to utilize resources that are affordable, and supports small business owners. This home was designed with accessibility in mind. The single floor plan has flush floors with wide clearance doors for the hallways and doors. Some of the other features include a lap pool and a front yard with native plants designed to retain stormwater.
Liederbach & Graham Architects
R. Michael Graham
ICA Excellence Awards,
500 N Wells Street, Chicago, IL 60654
About Liederbach & Graham Architects
Principals Phillip Liederbach and R. Michael Graham founded their firm, Liederbach and Graham Architects in 1991. The firm keeps its operations small in order to design and produce carefully crafted residential and commercial buildings. Both principals studied with Thomas H. Beeby, one of the “Chicago Seven,” a postmodern group of influential architects in Chicago who were especially active in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Liederbach and Graham Architects has received several Excellence in Architecture awards from the Institute of Classic Architecture and the American Institute of Architecture for their residential designs. Their work has also been featured in House Beautiful, Luxe, and Traditional Home, as well as several books.
Liederbach & Graham won a 2016 AIA Small Project Award for its single-family home project on Burling Street. The residential street in Lincoln Park is known for being one of the priciest in the city. The firm designed two houses on one lot altogether totaling 7,800 square feet, five bedrooms, and six baths. The main house, standing at over 4,600 feet, won the award for its playful design. “A Little Spark of Madness” is carved into the kitchen island, serving as the home’s built-in motto.
Morgante Wilson Architects
2834 Central St., Evanston, IL60201
About Morgante Wilson Architects
Luxury homebuilder Morgante Wilson Architects was started by a couple who has been married for as long as they have been architects. Fred Wilson and Elissa Morgante have been architects for three decades, and their eponymous firm is the milestone of all their expertise. It specializes in creating luxury houses with a holistic sense. The couple works closely with its clients, Wilson often focuses on the architectural facade while Morgante considers how the design can be connected to the interiors. Their teamwork has produced numerous award-winning homes and features from national publications like Luxe Magazine, Wall Street Journal, and Modern Luxury Interiors magazine.
Its most recent project is also one of its most impressive projects to date. This lake home is a three-story house that embodies the elegance of coastal living. Morgante Wilson Architects gave a modern take to the traditional farmhouse homes often found in lakeside neighborhoods.
Searl Lamaster Howe Architects
Pam Lamaster, AIA
Greg Howe AIA LEED AP
AIA Chicago Distinguished Building Honor Award, Builder Magazine Grand Award
500 N Dearborn Street, Suite 1050, Chicago, IL 60654
About Searl Lamaster Howe Architects
The prestigious Searl Lamaster Howe Architects has been featured in Architectural Digest, CS Interiors, Dwell, Elle Décor, and Custom Home. Its designs have earned several awards from AIA and the Grand Design Award for Renovation Project from Custom Home. Searl Lamaster Howe Architects uses intense collaboration with its clients to produce quality custom designs. Primarily a designer of single-family residences, the firm’s portfolio also includes commercial and institutional projects. The firm was founded by Principal-at-Large Linda Searl, FAIA, in 1985. Among her accomplishments is membership in Architectural Digest’s AD100, a collective of the top architects and interior designers in the world. Searl was the former president of the Chicago AIA Chapter and Regional Director of the National AIA.
This Asbury Residence, located in Evanston, received an AIA Citation of Merit in 2016. The design’s roots stem from the client’s request for a blend of contemporary yet traditional Mediterranean design. The stucco-clad house is based on a 1920s Italian theme and brings in modern minimalism with an open interior wrapping around a central courtyard.
AIA Design Awards,
Architectural Record Awards,
Congress for New Urbanism Grand Prize
1135 N California Avenue, Chicago, IL 60622
About Studio Dwell
Studio Dwell is a Chicago-based, full-service architecture firm dedicated to utilizing simplicity and light to produce quality designs. The studio’s custom design homes have won awards from Builder Magazine, AIA, Architectural Record, and Residential Architect Magazine, among others. The firm recently won the Congress for New Urbanism Grand Prize for its contribution to a neighborhood development in Detroit. Studio Dwell was founded in 2005 by Principal Mark Peters, AIA, who previously worked for prestigious firms such as Pappageorge Haymes and Hartshorne Plunkard. Peters received a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Urban 24, which received a Citation of Merit from AIA in 2015, was a residential infill project. The new row-house filled a gap within the line of existing homes built in the West Loop during the 1890s. Studio Dwell was able to build an innovative new space without disturbing its neighbors. One of the biggest concerns of any row-house is light sources. The firm used skylights, vertical open rooms, and transparent walls and floors to allow natural light to filter through the home. One AIA judge called these solutions “very sensitive to the site.”
Wheeler and Kearns Architects
AIA Chicago Firm of the Year
343 South Dearborn Street, Suite 200, Chicago, IL 60604
About Wheeler and Kearns Architects
Based in Chicago, Wheeler Kearns Architects is a collective practice of architects devoted to creating exquisite single-family homes that embody their clients’ purpose, energy, and vision. The 20-person firm designs award-winning residences throughout the Great Lakes region. Since its founding in 1987, Wheeler Kearns has twice been named by a national jury as AIA Chicago’s Firm of the Year. The award honors sustained outstanding achievement and excellence in a body of work produced by a firm over time. Learn more from their website here.
With unobstructed views of Lake Michigan, Wheeler and Kearns designed a 4,600-square-foot, single-family residence on Lake Shore Drive. The wedge-shaped structure, with a smooth limestone façade, is peppered with large, east-facing windows and an open, glass-faced living room. The house contains many sustainable aspects, including solar panels and brise-soleil on the west-facing windows. Completed in 2011, the home won a 2013 AIA Distinguished Building Award.