Brian Vitale, recently named one of the 50 people “shaping Chicago’s design culture,” is the co-managing director, design principal, and inspirational leader of the 300-plus-person Chicago office of the global design firm Gensler. His work, simply described as “poetic responses to the everyday,” simultaneously nourishes frank realism and abstract concepts, elevating common contextual materials and methods into architecture that is consistently infused with meaning and purpose.
Born in Chicago, Vitale earned his Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his Master of Architecture from Washington University, where he graduated with honors and earned the AIA Scholastic Gold Medal and Certificate. He was awarded the Distinguished Young Alumni Award by WashU’s School of Architecture in 2006.
A firm believer in the benefits of blurring the line between academia and the professional world, Vitale has served as an adjunct design faculty member at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where in 2015, he delivered the convocation speech to 1,800 students, parents, and faculty, addressing ideas about design, the profession, and their responsibilities to society.
Over the course of his career, Vitale has received over 70 design awards, including AIA awards from the Chicago, Los Angeles, Illinois, Nebraska, and Shanghai chapters. The Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago, a transformative rehabilitation facility that he designed, has been recognized with 27 major design accolades to date, including two national AIA design awards. Vitale has earned AIA honors at a city, state, and national level, receiving the Dubin Family Young Architect Award from the AIA Chicago, the John Wellborn Root Award for Emerging Professionals from the AIA Illinois, and the national AIA Young Architects Award, where it was said, “Vitale challenges us all to view the world differently by seamlessly combining reality and poetics, by articulating an inspired vision, and by relentlessly reshaping ideas without sacrificing design integrity.”