25 best architecture firms in Chicago
Ian Jolipa

25 best architecture firms in Chicago

15 Apr 2023  •  News  •  By Surabhi Patil

Chicago is renowned for its stunning skyline, innovative designs, and its contribution towards modern architecture. The rich built landscape of the city encompasses the evolution of several styles and movements, from the grand Beaux-Arts buildings of the late 19th century to the sleek, contemporary designs of today.

A turning point in the city’s history, the Great Fire of 1871 which destroyed much of the city, pushed towards using fire-resistant materials and techniques. This marked the emergence of the Chicago School of Architecture which pioneered steel frames and new construction techniques that allowed tall, functional buildings to accommodate the expanding population and businesses. This time period witnessed the rise of skyscrapers, which eventually became synonymous with the city’s skyline.

Today, Chicago is home to a vibrant and dynamic architecture scene with an array of firms revolutionizing architecture in exciting new ways. From exceptional designs to ground-breaking structures, the following list is a selection of 25 firms that continue to shape the city’s urban landscape. 


photo_credit Dave Burk
Dave Burk

1. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

SOM is an architecture firm founded in 1936 with a focus on interdisciplinary collaboration. The firm has grown to include designers with artistic sensibilities, architects and engineers with specialized technical knowledge, and planners with a deep understanding of policy and economics. SOM's hallmark has been the merger of architecture and structural engineering, which is evident in their projects such as the Lever House, the Sears Tower, and the John Hancock Center. SOM is also advocating for ambitious environmental goals, shaping building codes, influencing climate policy, and defining rigorous standards for low-carbon architecture and construction. With a focus on designing the future, the firm has been responsible for significant architectural and engineering achievements globally, bagging nearly 2000 awards for their innovation, management and quality.



photo_credit  Tom Harris Photography
Tom Harris Photography

2. Studio Gang

Studio Gang, founded by Jeanne Gang, is a Chicago based architecture and urban design practice with additional offices in New York, San Francisco and Paris. The firm comprises a team of over 100 architects, designers and planners, working together to visualize design as link between people, their communities and the environment. Studio Gang collaborates with clients, specialists and expert consultants from diverse disciplines to design and execute innovative projects across multiple scales, including architecture, urbanism, interiors and exhibitions. The firm aims to help people, organizations, and cities design their future with the means of innovative designs.



photo_credit Tom Rossiter
Tom Rossiter

3. CannonDesign

CannonDesign is a global design firm that brings together architects, engineers, industry specialists, and builders with a shared vision of addressing clients’ and society’s most pressing challenges. The firm’s design approach is centered on strategy, experience, architecture, engineering, and social impact. CannonDesign integrates diverse perspectives and conducts empirical and ethnographic research to gain a deep understanding of the client’s needs and context. With a focus on human vitality, equity, business optimization, and environmental sustainability, CannonDesign collaborates with forward-thinking companies to create impactful solutions across different dimensions such as strategy, innovation, facilities management, software, and prefabrication.  With a strong emphasis on multidisciplinary thinking, CannonDesign encourages its teams to view situations from all angles, identify opportunities for improvement, and connect the best ideas across industries and geographies.



photo_credit Nick Ulivieri Photography
Nick Ulivieri Photography

4. Goettsch Partners

Goettsch Partners (GP) is a Chicago-based architecture firm with a global presence and a reputation for combining experience with innovation. With projects spanning five continents, their aim is to create memorable structures that positively influence the surrounding context and community. They begin their design process with multiple concepts that are evaluated for intrinsic value, constructability, and environmental impact. GP collaborates closely with clients and world-class consultants to meet unique project requirements. Their approach emphasizes transparency and spatial dynamism, promoting technical solutions that deliver optimal performance. GP traces its roots back to Mies van der Rohe's Chicago practice and seeks to carry on his legacy of timeless materiality and clarity of architectural expression.



photo_credit KendallMcCaugherty and Steve Hall, Hall + Merrick Photographers
KendallMcCaugherty and Steve Hall, Hall + Merrick Photographers

5. Eastlake Studio

Eastlake Studio is an architectural firm that was founded in 1985 by three architects who were interested in incorporating computer technology into the practice of architecture. The firm initially leased the top floor of Tribune Tower in Chicago and began focusing on interior design for large corporations. Throughout the 1990s, Eastlake gained national attention for its innovative use of computers in architecture, and in the early 2000s, the firm began receiving recognition for its award-winning designs. Despite the 2009 recession, Eastlake was able to maintain steady growth and has since expanded its focus to include base building work and amenities design. The firm had its most successful year yet in 2019 and began 2020 with an internal wellness initiative that prepared them for the pandemic. Despite the unprecedented shift to remote work, Eastlake Studio smoothly transitioned and remained connected through virtual events, Zoom calls, and Slack communication. As they return to their studio, the firm remains committed to promoting wellness through their designs and creating healthy work environments for the post-pandemic era.



Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB) is a renowned architecture, interior design, and planning firm, operating nationally from its offices in Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, and Seattle. Since its establishment in 1931, SCB has made an indelible impact on the country's skyline, campuses, and neighbourhoods. The firm's approach involves asking questions, listening, and applying industry-leading standards and innovative creative vision to determine the best design response for each project, with a focus on context, inventiveness, and user comfort. With a diverse practice encompassing multi-family residential, urban planning, commercial, hospitality, retail, corporate office, higher education, laboratory, and transportation projects, SCB's nimble, creative, and efficient team produces responsive, responsible, and distinctive designs. The firm is future-oriented, consistently pushing itself to design to a higher standard, innovate at every level, and elevate design for its clients. Although SCB has won numerous awards, the firm is always seeking to challenge itself to do better.



photo_credit Kendall McCaugherty © Hall+Merrick Photographers
Kendall McCaugherty © Hall+Merrick Photographers

7. Wheeler Kearns Architects

Wheeler Kearns Architects is a Chicago-based architectural practice that works closely with clients to create spaces that embody their unique vision and purpose. The firm approaches each project by first seeking to understand the client's core mission and the transformation they seek, before identifying the "emotional centre" that serves as the heart of the project. From this central idea, Wheeler Kearns Architects crafts concepts and designs, with every detail evolving from this emotional centre. The firm takes an uncommon level of attention, curiosity, and devotion to its design process, with clients frequently describing them as partners rather than just architects. As a collective practice of architects, Wheeler Kearns Architects leverages multiple minds and ideas to deliver a wider spectrum of possibilities, opening doors to new and unexpected solutions.



photo_credit Kate Joyce Studios
Kate Joyce Studios

8. Ross Barney Architects

Chicago-based studio, Ross Barney Architects specialises in architecture, urban design, and landscape architecture and is widely regarded for its forward-thinking, environmentally conscious, and user-focused approach to developing structures and public spaces that endure over time. Projects that revitalise neglected and forgotten structures and locations, including train stations, power plants, government buildings, schools, parks, and fast-food restaurants, are part of the studio's portfolio. Ross Barney Architects tackles constraints and challenges by elevating the mundane into memorable and inspiring experiences. By adopting a collaborative and holistic approach, the studio engages with clients, users, and the community to create solutions that grow out of a place's history and function. The studio's methodology is based on equity, observation, listening, and learning before solutions are developed, which strengthens design solutions and nurtures a sense of ownership and pride in the community. Ross Barney Architects believes that design excellence is a right, not a privilege.


photo_credit Carmen Troesser
Carmen Troesser

9. Moss Design

Moss is an architecture and urban design studio located in Chicago that is LEED accredited and licensed in several states. Their portfolio includes a wide range of projects, from residential to commercial, hospitality, and even custom furniture. They offer full-service assistance to clients from site selection to design and construction, working collaboratively with their design team and fabricators. Their philosophy centres on the belief that a successful design connects with nature while responding to clients' needs and desires. They believe that sustainable designs can be cost-effective and preserve history while integrating natural light and air, green space, and the surrounding environment. Their approach emphasizes the creative use of sustainable materials to create an enriching experience for occupants and exert minimal impact on the surrounding landscape.



photo_credit Marty Peters Photography
Marty Peters Photography

10. Studio Dwell Architects

Studio Dwell Architects is a Chicago-based architecture firm that was established in 2005, with a team of skilled and close-knit designers committed to delivering outstanding architecture. The studio's design ethos blends modernist aesthetics with practicality, resulting in exceptional spaces that capture the beauty of built forms while avoiding the coldness typically associated with minimalism. Principal Mark Peters has developed a design philosophy that prioritizes user experience and interaction, creating quality spaces by utilizing simple forms and light that encourage people to experience architecture. Studio Dwell has gained industry recognition for its high standards and has been awarded prestigious accolades by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), Residential Architect, and Architectural Record.



photo_credit Arq. Paco Alvarez
Arq. Paco Alvarez

11. FGP Atelier

FGP Atelier, under the leadership of Francisco Gonzalez Pulido, is a design firm with a mission to advance society and the economy through the integration of design, science, and technology. The firm takes a multidisciplinary approach, combining logic, intuition, scientific research, and work experience to create active spaces, infrastructure, and urban networks that respond to their surroundings, ecology, culture, and technology. FGP Atelier believes in prioritizing experience over typology and dissolving archetypal interventions. With 25 years of experience, Francisco's work has been recognized for redefining the concept of stadiums, labs, airports, and cultural, living, and working environments. Transparency, openness, and freedom are valued in the firm's process, collaborations, and the buildings and spaces they create.




12. dSPACE Studio

An award-winning architecture firm based in Chicago, dSPACE studio is dedicated to architecture, interiors, and landscape design. With projects ranging from residential to commercial, the firm specializes in urban dwellings, vacation homes, and unique business spaces, both new construction and renovations. They approach each project individually, starting with an exploration of the client's needs, budget, location, and context to create a design without the imposition of preconceived styles or solutions. The firm strives to integrate environmentally sustainable design with green technologies and materials whenever possible. Their philosophy is centred on client satisfaction, and they are committed to effective communication and attention to detail throughout all phases of design and construction.


photo_credit Tom Rossiter
Tom Rossiter

13. JGMA

JGMA is a progressive architecture and design practice that prioritizes active community involvement and enriching people's lives through the organization of space and materiality. The firm recognizes the power of quality design to influence civic life and transform communities. As innovators in the field of architecture, JGMA approaches each design opportunity with a unique and conceptually driven solution, while maintaining the highest level of quality throughout the entire design process. JGMA is dedicated to serving the diverse neighbourhoods in Chicago and recognizes the inequitable allocation of resources in the city, which motivates the firm's objective to create more opportunities for education, social programs, and public spaces in neglected communities.



photo_credit Tyler Lundberg Photography
Tyler Lundberg Photography

14. HED

HED is an architectural, engineering, and planning firm operating across the United States. The firm's promise is to create exceptional, sustainable solutions for clients and communities through the collaborative efforts of talented individuals who prioritize critical thinking and design excellence. HED values justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion and celebrates individuality while working together to generate positive impact. The firm's integrated practice involves leveraging the team's expertise comprising individuals with diverse backgrounds, ideas, and experiences to create rich, substantive solutions that captivate the human spirit with measurable results.



photo_credit Mark Ballogg Photography
Mark Ballogg Photography

15. Epstein

Epstein is a well-known multidisciplinary design and construction firm that places the needs of its customers, employee-owners, and communities first. The firm strives towards providing strategic and innovative project solutions while fostering an open, professional culture that advances the world, aids employee wellness and adds value to shareholders. The firm has completed more than a hundred years in the industry, from a small Chicago office, evolving into a unique independent firm in the AEC sector.




16. STL architects

STL is a distinguished architectural firm in Chicago, founded in 1996 by Luis Collado, Jose Luis de la Fuente, and Tracy Susanne Salvia. The firm comprises a collaborative team of various design professionals passionate about architecture, planning, and design. STL has built a reputation for excellence over the years and has had the privilege of working with numerous clients. Their common belief is good architecture evolves through humble, team-based efforts and this philosophy is reflected in the firm’s open and communicative office environment. This collaborative approach fosters a cohesive team that delivers projects of exceptional quality.



photo_credit Image courtesy DMAC Architecture
Image courtesy DMAC Architecture

17. DMAC Architecture & Interiors

DMAC Architecture & Interiors is a design firm founded by Dwayne MacEwen in 1995, dedicated to architectural design and storytelling. They believe that each project has a unique story to tell and use their diverse experiences and expert consultants to bring it to life. They focus on designing everything that matters, from the smallest detail to the larger context. The firm values learning and teaching and is open to new ideas and challenges. They strive to be innovative and test ideas to create the best outcomes for their clients.



photo_credit Roland Halbe & Doug Fogelson / DRF
Roland Halbe & Doug Fogelson / DRF

18. Zoka Zola Architecture + Urban Design

Zola studied architecture at the University of Zagreb followed by a master's degree from the University of Chicago's Division of Humanities. Zola perfected her skills in Rome and London before opening her own studio in the UK. In 1997, she moved to Chicago where she started working on the Pfanner House, which went on to win the Home of the Year Award from Architecture magazine. The firm has undertaken various projects in Chicago, comprising the completion of three zero-energy houses, a solar tower, and an urban plan for the city. Zola is also an accomplished teacher having previously taught architecture at The School of the Art Institute, the University of Illinois in Chicago, and is currently teaching at the Illinois Institute of Technology.


photo_credit James Florio Architect & Interior Photography
James Florio Architect & Interior Photography

19. John Ronan Architects

John Ronan Architects is a well-known design firm established in 1999, with its headquarters in Chicago. The firm comprises dedicated design professionals who are committed to producing high-quality architecture marked by conceptual innovation, material exploration, and attention to detail. Led by John Ronan, the firm employs a collaborative and research-based approach to design that explores a wide range of ideas to find the response that is intuitively correct for each unique situation. John Ronan Architects offers a range of design services and pursues an interdisciplinary approach that seeks out leading experts and consultants as collaborators. The firm has a notable history of steady growth and has risen to prominence since its inception. It has received numerous awards and recognitions for its work, including three AIA Institute National Honor Awards. The studio's work seeks to produce compelling and memorable designs that respond to the specific context of each commission.



photo_credit Mike Schwartz Photography
Mike Schwartz Photography

20. Vladimir Radutny Architects

Vladimir Radutny Architects is a multi-disciplinary architecture firm that was established in Chicago on August 16th, 2008. Their practice focuses on developing innovative design solutions that challenge the conventional interpretations of space, function, and material use. They rely on imagination and experience to identify the creative nuances within each project and emphasize iteration throughout the design process to attain meaningful solutions from which final projects grow. For the firm, architecture is an art form with the power to alter not only space but also perceptions, feelings, and habits. The firm has been honored to be published, recognized, and exhibited since its inception. Regardless of project size, type, or location, Vladimir Radutny Architects continually seeks new design opportunities.



photo_credit Jim Tschetter
Jim Tschetter

21. Linc Thelen Design

Linc Thelen, a Chicago-based designer, has been passionate about art and design since he was young. With over 13 years of experience in interior architecture, design-build, and the visual arts, Linc has been called a "triple threat" for seamlessly blending his talents to create classic and unique designs that are both timeless and eclectic. Linc's approach to projects is based on the "master builder" technique, where he takes on the roles of artist, designer, and general contractor to create turnkey projects.  Linc has been recognized in numerous media outlets and publications, including Luxe Interiors + Design, Archdaily, Chicago Weekly and Architectural Digest Russia.



photo_credit A-Frame Studio (Ben Rahn)
A-Frame Studio (Ben Rahn)

22. Earles Architects and Associates (EAA)

One of Chicago's most well-known names in corporate real estate ownership and management, Earles Architects and Associates (EAA) is a highly skilled company that offers top-notch architectural, interior design, and planning services. EAA is renowned for its innovative approach to every design solution. The business has a solid clientele base in the corporate, institutional, industrial, and retail sectors with 30 years of experience. The team's dedication to exceeding clients' expectations is evident in their long-standing client relationships and consistent referrals. EAA's core values, which include passion, dedication, resourcefulness, diversity, and a client-focused approach, define their work and shape every client relationship.



photo_credit Rainer Viertlböck
Rainer Viertlböck

23. Jahn

Jahn is a renowned name in the architecture industry that has been creating waves for 60 years. Their team comprises passionate professionals who are dedicated to creating authentic and innovative architecture. Jahn has made a significant contribution to reshaping cities and altering perspectives about the influence of technology and design. The practice has never ceased changing, from its roots in the Chicago School to its work on some of the most recognisable skyscrapers in the world. The firm continues operating, taking risks, and designing; they look forward to the future they will build with their collaborators and co-creators.



photo_credit Tom Harris Photography, Mike Tuccori
Tom Harris Photography, Mike Tuccori

24. Partners by Design 

Partners by Design (Pbd) has been catering to diverse clients since 1993 with a team of industry-leading architects and designers who strive to create functional, sustainable, and personalized environments. The firm has received numerous accolades, including being named Interior Design Firm of The Year at Crain’s Chicago Business Commercial Real Estate Awards in 2019, 2018, 2016, 2015, 2012, 2011, and 2006, and Architect of The Year in 2013. The firm has an active and expanding global presence, offering clients the highest level of service possible by assembling teams of people who are committed to professional development. Pbd maintains an entrepreneurial culture that encourages diversity and innovation while fostering a fun and energizing atmosphere.



photo_credit Aleks Eva
Aleks Eva

25. Pappageorge Haymes Partners

Pappageorge Haymes Partners has been a driving force in shaping the perception of urban living and revitalization since its establishment in 1981. Incorporating a civic passion and a pragmatic approach, the firm's distinctive style is showcased in a rich portfolio of award-winning work, ranging across various building types, including high-rises, mixed-use developments, single-family homes, and innovative adaptive reuse projects. The firm's organizational structure ensures effective staff allocation and knowledge sharing, delivering clients with the expertise and vision they require to achieve their objectives.


The selection curated by the Archello editorial team is based on a mixture of the amount of featured projects and the views they generated.