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. This innovative approach has resulted in works such as Aqua Tower, whose façade encourages building community in the vertical dimension; Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo, where fourteen acres of biodiverse habitat are designed to double as storm water infrastructure and engaging public space; and WMS Boathouse at Clark Park, which creates a new access point along the Chicago River. In addition to creating transformative architecture, Studio Gang is dedicated to employing the tools, methods, and visionary capability of design to catalyze positive change through public engagement and advocacy. The Studio is based in Chicago and New York.
The Studio’s work has been published and exhibited widely, including at the Venice Architecture Biennale, the Museum of Modern Art, the National Building Museum, and the Art Institute of Chicago. Reveal, Studio Gang’s first volume on its work and process, was published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2011. That same year, the Studio self-published Reverse Effect: Renewing Chicago’s Waterways, a collaborative effort with the Natural Resources Defense Council that explores a radically greener future for the Chicago River and the Great Lakes. The Studio’s first solo exhibition, Building: Inside Studio Gang Architects, set record attendance during its run at the Art Institute of Chicago from September 2012 to February 2013, and was accompanied by an exhibition catalogue copublished by Yale University Press and the Art Institute of Chicago.
Our Studio’s organizational structure is a purposeful inversion of conventional top-down hierarchies. It is rooted in our aim to nurture the needs and development of every studio member, each project, and the office as a whole. With each new layer, we gain strength as we grow—a support system anchored by our core principles, mission, and vision.
As founder and principal, Jeanne is the deep root and main axis of the Studio, differentiating us from other firms with her visionary leadership. She supports the entire Studio with direct and indirect resources, infusing every aspect of our work and process with her insight and experience. Each subsequent branch of leadership and individual offshoot offer additional support and resources to those they mentor, ensuring a resilient Studio ecosystem that cultivates innovation, transformation, and regeneration.
In practice, we maintain a high degree of fluidity within this structure, using it externally to clarify lines of responsibility and authority to our clients and collaborators. Internally, project by project, we each contribute resources and nurture the greater system regardless of our overall position within the framework. At the heart of our structure, like the rings of a tree, our projects collectively narrate our history, our growth, and the refinement of our ideas and ideals.
Studio Gang begins every project with a research-based discovery process. This unique method recognizes the direct relationship between deep understanding and creativity. It also fosters clients’ active participation in our design process, making choices as the project develops.
Our practice is grounded in the belief that this thoughtful and collaborative approach is necessary for all projects, especially those whose impact and complexity is considerable. Rather than waiting until a project’s design is developed to conduct in-depth planning research, Studio Gang obtains this critical knowledge early on: at the beginning of a project’s concept design phase.
By understanding clients’ project goals and strategizing methods to achieve them from the very beginning, the project’s budget and timeline are preserved and respected, and a more compelling building design is conceived to serve as the basis from which the final project grows.
Embedded in our way of working is the search to reduce a project’s energy and material footprint while simultaneously seeking out the exciting synergies made possible by sustainable design. Everyone at Studio Gang offers deep knowledge of green solutions: all team members aim to become LEED Accredited Professionals within one year of joining the firm, and several of our projects are targeting a LEED Platinum rating.