Chicago is near the top of many enthusiasts’ lists or architectural pilgrimages. After being destroyed by a fire in 1871, like a phoenix, Chicago rose from its ashes, and in the process, it became an urban incubator for skyscraper design. Throughout the next several decades, architects explored the possibilities of steel frame construction and plate glass. Architects like Daniel Burnham, Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright and Ludwig Mies pioneered novel theories and designs, in the process devising methods for erecting taller and taller buildings with unique ways of expressing their structural prowess.
Fast forward to today, and Chicago remains an influential producer in the architectural world. More and more, the city has turned its attention to landscape architecture and the architecture of public places. This urban-oriented approach is apparent in many leading firms found in the following list.
With so many architecture firms to choose from, it’s challenging for clients to identify the industry leaders that will be an ideal fit for their project needs. Fortunately, Architizer is able to provide guidance on the top design firms in Chicago based on more than a decade of data and industry knowledge.
How are these architecture firms ranked?
The following ranking has been created according to key statistics that demonstrate each firm’s level of architectural excellence. The following metrics have been accumulated to establish each architecture firm’s ranking, in order of priority:
- The number of A+Awards won (2013 to 2023)
- The number of A+Awards finalists (2013 to 2023)
- The number of projects selected as “Project of the Day” (2009 to 2023)
- The number of projects selected as “Featured Project” (2009 to 2023)
- The number of projects uploaded to Architizer (2009 to 2023)
Each of these metrics is explained in more detail at the foot of this article. This ranking list will be updated annually, taking into account new achievements of Chicago architecture firms throughout the year.
Without further ado, here are the 20 best architecture firms in Chicago:
Since 1981, the architecture of Pappageorge Haymes Partners (PH) has had a profound influence on attitudes toward the rebirth of our cities and the promise of urban living. Our unique approach — both passionately civic and distinctly practical — has produced a remarkable and award-winning body of work that includes nearly every product and building type, from single-family homes to high-rises, expansive mixed-use developments, far-sighted neighborhood plans and the creative adaptive re-use of structures across the United States.
Well known for the collaborative, client-oriented approach and insightful skill we bring to every project, PH is widely recognized as an important leader in its field.
Some of Pappageorge Haymes Partners’s most prominent projects include:
- K2 Apartments, Chicago, Illinois
- ARC at Old Colony, Chicago, Illinois
- Christopher House Charter School, Chicago, Illinois
- 600 N. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois
- Wyndham Grand Chicago Riverfront, Chicago, Illinois
The following statistics helped Pappageorge Haymes Partners achieve 20th place in the 20 Best Architecture Firms in Chicago:
We create great environments. We are a full service architecture, planning and engineering firm with deep experience in academic, civic and residential architecture. Our portfolio includes many innovative, first of their kind projects. We have extensive experience in the design and technical development of building systems and the management of complex projects. We maintain a special focus on architecture that supports and benefits its community.
Some of Cordogan Clark & Associates’s most prominent projects include:
- Fay-Cooper Cole Hall, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois
- Herget Middle School, Aurora, Illinois
- Ningbo Industrial Design and Creative Center, Ningbo, China
- Corporate Headquarters and Resort Hotel Zhuhai, China, Zhuhai, China
- 41st and 43rd Street Bridges, Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
The following statistics helped Cordogan Clark & Associates achieve 19th place in the 20 Best Architecture Firms in Chicago:
Goettsch Partners (GP) is an architecture firm with a global perspective. Based in Chicago, with additional offices in Denver and Shanghai, we share a singular approach to design that combines seasoned experience with a passion for exploration and innovation. Our completed and active projects span five continents and represent a diverse range of types and sizes.
Some of Goettsch Partners’s most prominent projects include:
- Lincoln Park Zoo Pepper Family Wildlife Center, Chicago, Illinois
- Mennica Legacy Tower, Warsaw, Poland
- 110 North Wacker , Chicago, Illinois
- Abu Dhabi Global Market Square, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
- Guangxi China Resources Tower, Nanning, China
The following statistics helped Goettsch Partners achieve 18th place in the 20 Best Architecture Firms in Chicago:
Krueck Sexton Partners is a Chicago-based, nationally recognized architecture practice comprised of design professions dedicated to the realization of buildings that are reflective of our diverse clients. We work in close collaboration with industry-leading engineers and consultants, reinforcing an interdisciplinary and research-based studio culture. We have achieved a consistent design portfolio of the highest quality for over thirty years.
Client participation is encouraged throughout a journey of discovery, when ideas and opportunities that best support the project goals begin to crystallize. This allows for the development of unique and specific solutions.
Some of Krueck Sexton Partners’s most prominent projects include:
The following statistics helped Krueck Sexton Partners achieve 17th place in the 20 Best Architecture Firms in Chicago:
16. bKL Architecture
bKL Architecture’s open studio environment encourages a spirited exchange of ideas. Our culturally diverse team brings together a broad range of skills, experiences and backgrounds to create a vibrant atmosphere and design process. At the center of our process is a focus on in-depth analysis, intensive experimentation and collaboration. Our team designs projects that only enrich sites and cities around the world in which we build.
Some of bKL Architecture’s most prominent projects include:
- The St. Regis Chicago (Vista Tower), Chicago, Illinois
- GEMS World Academy-Chicago, Lower School, Chicago, Illinois
- Whitney Young Library Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
- Coast at Lakeshore East, Chicago, Illinois
- Wolf Point West, Chicago, Illinois
The following statistics helped bKL Architecture achieve 16th place in the 20 Best Architecture Firms in Chicago:
Jacobs/Ryan Associates combines knowledge, conceptual thinking and attention to detail to produce enduring landscapes. The firm believes three fundamentals are important to the success of all landscape projects: design, technology and management. Each plays a critical part in making the finished landscape meet the client’s expectations.
While we are known for our designs and aim for beauty in every finished product, we also believe form should follow function. We take advantage of technological advances that will improve both the process and outcome of a project, whether the concern is aesthetic, functional, ecological or economic. We rely on time-tested approaches to many landscape solutions because what has worked well may not need changing. We manage every project closely, giving it our focused, personal attention. Every project is assigned a partner who plays an active role in the day-to-day events of the project.
Some of Jacobs Ryan Associates’s most prominent projects include:
- Chicago Riverwalk, Chicago, Illinois
- Chicago Botanic Garden, Chicago, Illinois
- Ford Calumet Environmental Center, Chicago, Illinois
- Searle Visitor Center, Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, Illinois
- Palos Community Hospital Landscape, Palos Heights, Illinois
The following statistics helped Jacobs Ryan Associates achieve 15th place in the 20 Best Architecture Firms in Chicago:
14. FGP atelier
Chicago-based global architecture firm FGP Atelier is changing the paradigm of what constitutes great architecture and building. Helmed by award-winning, Mexican-born architect Francisco Gonzalez Pulido (FGP), FGP Atelier was founded in September of 2017 following Gonzalez Pulido’s departure as partner and president of JAHN.
Some of FGP atelier’s most prominent projects include:
- Diablos Rojos Stadium, Mexico City, Mexico
- Orchid Educational Pavilion, Oaxaca, Mexico
- LOT 41, Shanghai, China
- Facet, Shenzhen, China
- Starring by Ted Gibson, Los Angeles, California
The following statistics helped FGP atelier achieve 14th place in the 20 Best Architecture Firms in Chicago:
13. Hoerr Schaudt
At Hoerr Schaudt, we design beautiful, purposeful gardens that connect people, site and season. Gardens elicit joy, soothe our souls and become places where we interact with each other and the world around us. Drawing upon centuries of time-honored tradition, our work layers botanical silhouettes to shape space and create settings that artfully blend the natural and built environments be it a residence, streetscape, campus, city park or botanical garden.
Based in Chicago, with offices in Kansas City and Los Angeles, Hoerr Schaudt continues its 30-year mission to make gardens that thrive and delight.
Some of Hoerr Schaudt’s most prominent projects include:
- CME Center, Chicago, Illinois
- Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, Des Moines, Iowa
- The Gary Comer Youth Center, Chicago, Illinois
- Mountain Modern, Colorad
- Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois
The following statistics helped Hoerr Schaudt achieve 13th place in the 20 Best Architecture Firms in Chicago:
12. Latent Design
Latent Design is a Chicago-based full-service architecture firm and strategic design consultancy working at the intersection of design and community development to create social, economic and environmental impact beyond the building. We use design as a tool to make the invisible forces impacting a project at local and global levels; policy, culture, climate, economy, visible through architecture.
We offer innovative design solutions to those in resource and budget limited environments through a participatory approach that leverages local assets to directly generate project opportunities. Our collaborations range from small-scale tactical interventions, new construction community buildings, adaptive reuse, neighborhood master plans and design speculations. Latent Design is a registered Benefit Corporation in the State of Illinois and is required by law to create and demonstrate positive social impact to the community through our work.
Some of Latent Design’s most prominent projects include:
The following statistics helped Latent Design achieve 12th place in the 20 Best Architecture Firms in Chicago:
As we mark our 30th year in business in 2023, Partners by Design continues to design and deliver powerful, one-of-a-kind spaces for our clients. Through our integrated approach, innovative solutions and diversified suite of services (Interiors, Architecture, Spark Environmental Branding and VIZfire Architectural Visualization), all under one roof, we continue to be an industry leader through our innovation, technology integration and thought leadership on the direction and formation of new space typologies.
Our client-centric process driven by research and grounded in data, gives us a deep understanding of human behavior and what our clients face every day. Utilizing this behavioral understanding directly correlates to successful placemaking design and delivery.
Some of Partners By Design’s most prominent projects include:
- Mead Johnson Nutrition, Chicago, Illinois
- Color Factory, Chicago, Illinois
- CCC Intelligent Solutions, Chicago, Illinois
- JBG Smith, Bethesda, Maryland
- TrueBlue, Chicago, Illinois
The following statistics helped Partners By Design achieve 11th place in the 20 Best Architecture Firms in Chicago:
Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB) is an architecture, interior design and planning firm with a thoughtful design vision and a dynamic national imprint. Since 1931, SCB has made a lasting visual impact on skylines, campuses and neighborhoods nationwide. From offices in Chicago, San Francisco, Boston and Seattle we offer our expertise to clients across the country, helping them achieve their goals, serve their constituents and create unique built environments.
Some of Solomon Cordwell Buenz’s most prominent projects include:
- Academic and Residential Complex at the University of Illinois, Chicago, Illinois
- Vital Proteins, Chicago, Illinois
- Tribune Tower Conversion, Chicago, Illinois
- 55 Ninth, San Francisco, CA, United States
- Institute for Environmental Sustainability, Chicago, Illinois
The following statistics helped Solomon Cordwell Buenz achieve 10th place in the 20 Best Architecture Firms in Chicago:
STLarchitects is an architecture and urban design firm founded in 1996 and headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. With projects in the US, Europe and Asia, STLArchitects’ design work has been widely recognized for its design excellence and has been published worldwide.
Some of STLarchitects’s most prominent projects include:
The following statistics helped STLarchitects achieve 9th place in the 20 Best Architecture Firms in Chicago:
JAHN is a unique architectural firm conceived to meet the challenges posed by the new millennium. Under the leadership of Helmut Jahn the firm has grown and evolved steadily from the original practice founded in 1937 by Charles F. Murphy, Sr. out of a tradition started with Daniel H. Burnham. The firm has carried the name Murphy/Jahn from 1979 to 2012 and is now known simply as JAHN.
We believe our commitment to this balance is fundamental to the successful translation from architectural concept into built reality. We are committed to creating forward reaching buildings, which will endure the test of time and become a source of pride in the minds of owners, users, communities and ourselves.
Some of JAHN’s most prominent projects include:
- Leatop Plaza, Zhejiang, China
- Joe and Rika Mansueto Library, Chicago, Illinois
- Joe and Rika Mansueto Library at the University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
- Highlight Towers, München, Germany
- HEGAU TOWER, Singen (Hohentwiel), Germany
The following statistics helped JAHN achieve 8th place in the 20 Best Architecture Firms in Chicago:
JGMA is a progressive architecture and design practice committed to active community involvement and the enrichment of peoples’ lives through the attentive and dynamic organization of space and materiality. We understand that quality design has a unique ability to influence civic life and transform communities.
We proudly consider ourselves innovators in the field of architecture and are dedicated to formulating consistently unique solutions to every design opportunity. Our work is conceptually driven but exhibits the highest level of quality at every stage of design, construction and occupancy. JGMA is led by the firm’s president, Juan Gabriel Moreno, and is supported by a talented team of experienced architectural professionals.
Some of JGMA’s most prominent projects include:
- Uno Soccer Academy, Chicago, Illinois
- Richard J. Daley College Manufacturing Technology and Engineering Center, Chicago, Illinois
- Esperanza Health Centers, Chicago, Illinois
- Westfield Old Orchard Glass Cube, Skokie, Illinois
- Northeastern Illinois University – El Centro, Chicago, Illinois
The following statistics helped JGMA achieve 7th place in the 20 Best Architecture Firms in Chicago:
Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture is dedicated to the design of high-performance, energy-efficient and sustainable architecture on an international scale. The firm approaches each project, regardless of size or scale, with an understanding that architecture has a unique power to influence civic life. We strive to create designs that aid society, advance modern technology, sustain the environment and inspire those around us to improve our world. Our office is dedicated to the creation of new paradigms for sustainable development.
Some of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture’s most prominent projects include:
- Waldorf Astoria Beijing, Beijing, China
- Al Wasl Plaza, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
- Steppenwolf Theatre Campus Expansion, Chicago, Illinois
- Federation of Korean Industries, Seoul, South Korea
- Chengdu Greenland Tower, Chengdu, China
The following statistics helped Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture achieve 6th place in the 20 Best Architecture Firms in Chicago:
Valerio Dewalt Train is a 60+ person national architectural and design practice with offices in Chicago, Illinois; Denver, Colorado; San Francisco, California; and Palo Alto, California. Since 1994, the firm has based its practice on the simple idea that whatever the question, design is the answer. But we also believe that before an answer can be provided, one has to do the research to make sure the question is understood.
As designers, we take a research-based approach to the design process; it is immersive and specific. This process allows us to explore the client’s DNA, user profile, research best practices and discover early on what sustainable strategies should be integrated in the project.
Some of Valerio Dewalt Train’s most prominent projects include:
- Vue53, Chicago, Illinois
- The YouTube Lobby, San Bruno, California
- Ford Calumet Environmental Center, Chicago, Illinois
- 1098 Alta, Mountain View, California
- Gordon Parks Arts Hall – University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, Chicago, Illinois
The following statistics helped Valerio Dewalt Train achieve 5th place in the 20 Best Architecture Firms in Chicago:
Ross Barney Architects is a Chicago-based architecture and urban design studio. Established by Carol Ross Barney, the studio occupies a unique place within the panorama of contemporary practice that is characterized by a reputation for work in the public realm. From community buildings to campus buildings for premier academic and research institutions, to groundbreaking transit stations that connect vibrant neighborhoods, Ross Barney Architects has produced distinctive structures that have become community icons.
The studio’s ideas and projects have been recognized by entities and publications from around the world. Ross Barney Architects’ work has been exhibited in Chicago, New York, Washington D.C.
Some of Ross Barney Architects’s most prominent projects include:
- O’Hare International Airport, Multi Modal Terminal, Chicago, Illinois
- McDonald’s Global Flagship Walt Disney World Resort, Lake Buena Vista, Florida
- McDonald’s Chicago Flagship, Chicago, Illinois
- Railyard Park, Rogers, Arizona
- CTA Cermak-McCormick Place Station , Chicago, Illinois
Top image: Chicago Riverwalk, Chicago, IL, United States
The following statistics helped Ross Barney Architects achieve 4th place in the 20 Best Architecture Firms in Chicago:
Wheeler Kearns is a collective practice of architects. We work with people who seek to enrich their lives in spaces that embody their purpose, energy and vision. When a space we design resonates with your deepest intention, it has a lasting and powerful impact. As we work with you, we devote all our energies to understanding your core purpose, the transformation you seek, your mission. We want to see your challenge through your eyes. Doing this guides us to what we call the “emotional center,” the heart around which your entire project revolves. We return to that central idea as we craft concepts, help you make decisions, and refine our responses to those choices.
Some of Wheeler Kearns Architects’s most prominent projects include:
- North Lawndale Employment Network, Chicago, Illinois
- Intrinsic School, Chicago, Illinois
- The Night Ministry, Chicago, Illinois
- Art Institute of Chicago – Ryan Learning Center Renovation, Chicago, Illinois
- Great Lakes Academy Expansion, Chicago, Illinois
The following statistics helped Wheeler Kearns Architects achieve 3rd place in the 20 Best Architecture Firms in Chicago:
Perkins&Will, an interdisciplinary, research-based architecture and design firm, was founded in 1935 on the belief that design has the power to transform lives. Guided by its core values — design excellence, diversity and inclusion, living design, research, resilience, social purpose, sustainability and well-being — the firm is committed to designing a better, more beautiful world.
Metropolis named Perkins&Will “Firm of the Year” in 2022 for its industry leadership in advancing climate action and social justice. Fast Company named Perkins&Will one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies in Architecture three times, and in 2021, it added the firm to its list of Brands That Matter — making Perkins&Will the only architecture practice in the world to earn the distinction. With an international team of more than 2,000 professionals, the firm has over 20 studios worldwide, providing integrated services in architecture, interior design, branded environments, urban design, and landscape architecture.
Some of Perkins&Will’s most prominent projects include:
- MIT Site 4, Cambridge, Massachusetts
- Billerica Memorial High School, Billerica, Massachusetts
- First Year student Village, Coral Gables, Florida
- The Exchange at 100 Federal, Boston, Massachusetts
- University of California, San Francisco, Nancy Friend Pritzker Psychiatry Building, San Francisco, California
The following statistics helped Perkins&Will achieve 2nd place in the 20 Best Architecture Firms in Chicago:
1. Studio Gang
Founded by MacArthur Fellow Jeanne Gang in 1997, Studio Gang Architects is a collective of architects, designers and thinkers whose work engages pressing contemporary issues and their impact on human experience. Honored with the 2013 National Design Award for Architecture from the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, the Studio acts as a laboratory—testing ideas on various scales, from cities and environments to material and physical properties. Cross-field research, collaboration, and iterative experimentation using both digital and analog technologies are integral to the Studio’s process. Each project is designed to resonate with its specific site and culture while addressing global themes such as reuse and sustainability.
Some of Studio Gang’s most prominent projects include:
- Writers Theatre, Glencoe, Illinois
- Solar Carve (40 Tenth Ave), New York City, New York
- Beloit College Powerhouse, Beloit, Wisconsin
- WMS Boathouse at Clark Park, Chicago, Illinois
- One Hundred, St. Louis, Missouri
The following statistics helped Studio Gang achieve 1st place in the 20 Best Architecture Firms in Chicago:
Why Should I Trust Architizer’s Ranking?
With more than 30,000 architecture firms and over 130,000 projects within its database, Architizer is proud to host the world’s largest online community of architects and building product manufacturers. Its celebrated A+Awards program is also the largest celebration of architecture and building products, with more than 400 jurors and hundreds of thousands of public votes helping to recognize the world’s best architecture each year.
Architizer also powers firm directories for a number of AIA (American Institute of Architects) Chapters nationwide, including the official directory of architecture firms for AIA New York.
A Guide to Project Awards
The blue “”+”” badge denotes that a project has won a prestigious A+Award as described above. Hovering over the badge reveals details of the award, including award category, year, and whether the project won the jury or popular choice award.
The orange Project of the Day and yellow Featured Project badges are awarded by Architizer’s Editorial team, and are selected based on a number of factors. The following factors increase a project’s likelihood of being featured or awarded Project of the Day status:
- Project completed within the last 3 years
- A well written, concise project description of at least 3 paragraphs
- Architectural design with a high level of both functional and aesthetic value
- High quality, in focus photographs
- At least 8 photographs of both the interior and exterior of the building
- Inclusion of architectural drawings and renderings
- Inclusion of construction photographs
There are 7 Projects of the Day each week and a further 31 Featured Projects. Each Project of the Day is published on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram Stories, while each Featured Project is published on Facebook. Each Project of the Day also features in Architizer’s Weekly Projects Newsletter and shared with 170,000 subscribers.
We’re constantly look for the world’s best architects to join our community. If you would like to understand more about this ranking list and learn how your firm can achieve a presence on it, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at email@example.com.