Announcing 2015 Professional Excellence Award Winners


Our annual Professional Excellence Awards recognize outstanding work made by firms and individuals in Chicago. The Firm of the Year Award was established in 1991 to recognize the breadth and depth of projects done by a firm throughout time; the Dubin Family Young Architect Award, established in 1983, recognizes the career of an architect aged 25 to 39. The Distinguished Service Award recognizes those (who might not be members) individual that have gone above and beyond to give back to the Chicago architectural community as a whole, including service to the profession, public service, and education.

2015 Firm of the Year Award Winner: Perkins+Will

The jury was most impressed by the expansive scope of projects by Perkins+Will—from smaller projects like Contemporaine to larger, more complex projects such as Jones College Prep—jurors remarked on their site-specificity. “Many of the projects are elegantly planned,” said one juror. “They are more grounded on specific sites, not just playing on the vernacular of the field.”

2015 Dubin Family Young Architect Award Winner: Chris-Annmarie Spencer, AIA, Wheeler-Kearns Architects

Chris-Ann, Jamaican by birth, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Architectural Studies from the Caribbean School of Architecture at the University of Technology in 1998. She moved to Chicago to attend the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Chris-Ann has served as Project Architect for renovations of residences in Glencoe and Chicago. She recently completed an award winning project for Inspiration Kitchens and the Chicago region’s only high school for students with Learning Differences. In 2008, Chris-Ann and her husband Grant Gibson, an architect at Garafolo Architects won third place in the White House Redux Competition. Currently she assists on the project team for the Noble Network of Charter Schools Campus Improvements and Renovations.


2015 Distinguished Service Award Recipients

Julia S. Bachrach is a Planning Supervisor for the Chicago Park District department of Planning and Development.  In this role, she serves as the historian and preservationist for the Chicago Park District.  Since joining the Chicago Park District as a consultant in 1988 and as a full time staff member the next year, she has the park district’s archival collections and conducts extensive research for landmark nominations, restoration projects, and public education initiatives. Julia has written and published extensively on the subject of Chicago’s historic parks.  Her books include The City in a Garden: A History of Chicago’s Parks and Inspired by Nature: The Garfield Park Conservatory and Chicago’s West Side (co-authored by Jo Ann Nathan). She has contributed to the Oxford Companion to the Garden, The Encyclopedia of Chicago, the AIA Guide to Chicago and Midwestern Landscape Architecture.


After nearly thirty years of service, Mary Woolever retired as archivist for the artists’ and architects’ papers in the Ryerson & Burnham Libraries of the Art Institute of Chicago  earlier this year.  During her years of memorable, dedicated employment, she has supported the research of thousands of students, scholars, academics, architects and authors.  A friend and ally to anyone with curiosity, her deep knowledge, skills and friendly demeanor, all shared generously, are known and appreciated widely in the architecture and design community. 

Ms. Woolever’s accomplishments at the Art Institute are numerous, and immeasurable.  She has curated numerous exhibits drawn from the collections, including those of Louis Sullivan, Daniel Burnham, and Bruce Goff.  She was instrumental in the acquisition of the archives of Bertrand Goldberg, Walter Netsch, Harry and Ben Weese, the photographer Richard Nickel, and papers from several colleagues and students of Mies van der Rohe.

She also continues years of reliably diligent participation as a member of the AIA Chicago Foundation board of directors.