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Ben Johnson

Director Ben Johnson’s broad range of professional experience includes high-rise construction, historic restoration, and modern infrastructure design across a variety of program types including office, retail, cultural, residential and hotel. He is adept at all phases of project management and architectural design, from research and programming to construction administration. He is particularly skilled in the technical and organizational aspects of project delivery and design coordination.

Ben has extensive experience in general firm management including finance, contracts, insurance and marketing.  At AS+GG he has provided project management leadership and direction on a wide variety projects including supertall towers, complex master plans, and adaptive reuse projects.  As Project Manager he has organized and led the design and technical team effort for multiple large-scale, international projects including Greenland Chengdu Tower, now under construction in Chengdu, China; Wuhan Greenland Center, a 606-meter tall mix use tower now under construction in Wuhan, China that will be the world’s fourth tallest building when completed; and Burj 2020, a highly sustainable 700-meter tower now being designed for Dubai, United Arab Emirates.  Ben is also managing a mixed-use high-rise project in New York City.

Ben’s project management experience at AS+GG covers a diverse project range including the addition and renovation of Chicago’s Shakespeare Theater, which features an adaptable, flexible auditorium built from modular towers and an adaptive reuse project that will transform a 1 million square foot former Studebaker manufacturing facility into a data and technology center in South Bend, Indiana.

Prior to joining AS+GG in 2008, he was with Johnson Lasky Architects in Chicago, where his responsibilities included the full range of strategic planning, business development, marketing, consultant selection and management, recruiting and staffing, budgeting, preparing proposals, contracts and managing client relationships. Ben also previously worked at VOA Associates in Chicago.

He is a member of the Urban Land Institute Chicago Product Council for mixed-use and urban development and the current chair of the AIA Chicago Practice Management Knowledge Committee (PMKC).  Ben is a former recipient of a Fulbright grant to Vienna, Austria, which he spent studying international business management and the German language.


Master of Architecture, University of Illinois, 1998
Bachelor of Arts in International Management, St. John's University, Minnesota, 1992


Licensed Architect in Illinois
American Institute of Architects (AIA)
AIA Chicago Practice Management Knowledge Committee (PMKC)
Urban Land Institute, Chicago Product Council for Mixed-use and Urban Development
LEED Accredited Professional (LEED AP)
National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB)

Publications + Presentations

“Form and Structure,” Toronto RJC Structural Conference, 2014
"Restoration at the University of Chicago - International House," Statewide Preservation Conference, 2007
"Historic Railroad Bridges in Chicago," Technology & Conservation Conference, 2003
"Wacker Drive Stone," Technology & Conservation Conference, 2003

Awards + Honors

AIA Innovation Awards, Stellar Architecture, Honorable Mention, The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, 2017
The American Architecture Prize, Cultural Buildings, Honorable Mention, The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, 2017
The American Architecture Prize, Architectural Design | Tall Buildings, Winner, FKI Tower, 2017
The Chicago Athenaeum, International Architecture Award, Greenland Tower Chengdu, 2016
Re-thinking The Future 2015 Award, Urban Design Concept, First Award, Great City Chengdu, 2015
The Chicago Athenaeum, Green Good Design Award, Green Architecture, FKI Tower, 2015
Civic Trust Awards, Civic Trust Award, FKI Tower, 2015
The Chicago Athenaeum, Green Good Design Award, Green Urban Planning, Tianfu New District Master Plan, 2015
Civic Trust Awards, Civic Trust Award, FKI Tower, 2015
Korean Architecture Award, Excellence Award, FKI Tower, 2017
Korea Presidential Commission on Architecture Policy, Korea Green Building Award, FKI Tower, 2014
Re-Thinking the Future, Sustainability Award, Honorable Mention, FKI Tower, 2014
WAN Urban Design Award, Future Projects, Finalist, Xixian Great City Master Plan, 2014
Middle East AIA, Non-Built Category, Merit Award, Kingdom Tower, 2014
AIA Chicago, Distinguished Building Award, Citation of Merit, FKI Tower, 2014
CTBUH, Best Tall Building Asia and Australasia, Finalist, Federation of Korean Industries, 2014
The Chicago Athenaeum, Green Good Design Award, Green Urban Planning, Xixian Great City Master Plan, 2014
The Chicago Athenaeum, Green Good Design Award, Green Urban Planning, Great City Chengdu Master Plan, 2014
Structural Engineers Association of Illinois, Excellence in Structural Engineering Award, Winner, Best Project $150 million and over, Federation of Korean Industries, 2014
Architizer A+ Award, Office Building High Rise, Finalist, Federation of Korean Industries, 2014
Architizer A+ Award, Unbuilt Category, Architecture + Technology, Finalist, Chengdu Greenland Tower, 2014
The Chicago Athenaeum, American Architecture Award, Xixian Great City, 2013
The Chicago Athenaeum, International Architecture Award, Great City Master Plan, 2013
Illinois AIA, Design Award, St. John’s Episcopal Church (while Senior Associate at Johnson Lasky Architects), 2007
Portland Cement Association, Award of Excellence, I-74 Reconstruction/Arched Pier Bridges (while Senior Associate at Johnson Lasky Architects), 2006
U.S. General Services Administration Biennial Design Awards, Citation, U.S. Custom House (while Senior Associate at Johnson Lasky Architects), 2006
AIA Chicago, Honor Award, Wacker Drive Reconstruction Project (while Senior Associate at Johnson Lasky Architects), 2005
ACEC Eminent Conceptor Award, Wacker Drive Reconstruction Project (while Senior Associate at Johnson Lasky Architects), 2005
ACEC, Honor Award, Lake Shore Drive Reconstruction/Animal Bridge (while Senior Associate at Johnson Lasky Architects), 2005
Richard Driehaus Foundation, Preservation Award, Animal Bridge (while Senior Associate at Johnson Lasky Architects), 2005

Major projects at Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture:

Goldenland Towers
Architectural and interior design for a 287,000 sm mixed-use project with an office and hotel tower and a service apartment tower connected by a 5-story podium with retail and parking. Suzhou, China

Renaissance District
New campus design of a former 92,903 sm Studebaker manufacturing facility, located in the Renaissance District of South Bend. Redevelopment will provide a platform for data and technology companies. South Bend, Indiana

Shakespeare Theater
Expansion and renovation of popular Chicago theater located on Navy Pier in downtown includes an adaptable, flexible auditorium built from modular towers. Chicago, Illinois

Burj 2020
Supertall commercial tower’s sustainability strategies include water use reduced by 51% and overall energy use reduced by 38% against baseline building design. Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Greenland Tower Chengdu
468-meter, mixed-use tower features a conference center, offices, a hotel, executive residential apartments and rooftop garden. Chengdu, China

Wuhan Greenland Center
119-story, 606-meter tall, 300,000 sm mixed-use tower features 50 office floors, 17 residential floors and 22 hotel floors and four club levels, four sky lobbies, and multiple mechanical floors. Wuhan, China

Jeddah Tower
The next tallest building in the world, this multi-use Tower will feature a luxury hotel, office space, serviced apartments, luxury condominiums and the world’s highest observatory. Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

FKI Tower
50 story, 240 meter tower in downtown Seoul will provide the headquarters for the Federation of Korean Industries. The Class A office building also includes dining facilities, theater and conference center and rooftop garden. Seoul, Korea

Vantone Center Tianjin
185-meter tower consists of 64,000 square-meters of above-grade Class A office and high-end retail space, along with an additional 30,000 square meters of below-grade retail and parking. Also features a 27 meter-tall private club for building tenants at its top. Tianjin, China

Nanshan Tower Exterior Wall
Exterior Wall design for a mixed-use development in Shenzhen’s Nanshan District that optimizes solar and wind mitigation.  The development includes a 300m tower, 160m tower and conference facility.  Shenzhen, China

Gang Xia Tower
198-meter, 43-story tower in Shenzhen’s Futian Central District, with views to the adjacent Civic Center Park and a series of high performance solar shades. Shenzhen, China

Tianfu New District Master Plan
Located 30 kilometers south of Chengdu, this new city plan consideres unique features such as existing valleys, ridges and slopes and reinterprets them as parks, plazas, pedestrian streets and retail corridors. Developed guidelines for buildings that range from 5-story buildings, up to signature towers of over 300 meters. Chengdu, China

Xixian Great City
A 1.4 square km development in China that represents a shift in the approach to providing high density housing and employment in suburban China. The city is designed around a number of key sustainability criteria focusing on a sustainable and healthy urban environment while at the same time being affordable. Xian, China

Great City Chengdu
1 square-kilometer development in central China, stemming from an investigation into the relationship between high density urban living and sustainable development. Will accommodate a population of 100,000 people, or 30,000 families. Chengdu, China

Hilal Tower
138 m mixed-use tower includes four levels below grade for retail, parking and support areas. The tower features residential, office and retail at ground and higher levels. Sustainable elements include district cooling, solar hot water, energy-efficient lighting and equipment, a greywater system and highly efficient HVAC and MEP Systems. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Mixed-use 74.5 m and 105 m residential and office towers consisting of 5,612 sm of area. The program includes four to five below-grade levels for partial storage, parking and support areas.  Sustainable elements include district cooling, solar hot water, energy-efficient lighting and equipment, a greywater system and highly efficient HVAC and MEP Systems. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

OCT Shenzhen Development
Sustainable mixed-use corridor features adaptive reuse of existing power plant, which will be the centerpiece for the new development. This readapted building will be a showcase for passive power production and sustainable practices including rainwater collection, wind and solar power generation and recycling as well as a central hub for a network or pedestrian and bicycle pathways. Shenzhen, China

Willis Tower Greening Project + Hotel 
Integration of sustainable systems to reduce energy consumption at the former Sears tower and design for highly sustainable, 50-story five-star hotel to be built on the south side of Willis Tower plaza. The hotel will draw net zero energy from the power grid. Chicago, Illinois

1 Dubai
Three-tower, supertall mega-structure includes luxury hotels, condominiums, offices, retail and cultural facilities. Dubai, United Arab Emirates

1 Park Avenue
Supertall tower with podium complex includes luxury hotel, condominiums, offices and retail. Dubai, United Arab Emirates

At Johnson Lasky Architects:

University of Illinois Urbana | Champaign
Champaign Natural History Building Assessment and Development Plan for the adaptation and continued use of this 150,000 sf, 1894, National Register building.

Allerton Park assessment
Condition assessment with prioritized recommendations and pricing for a 1,500 acre, 1920s-era, compound of farming magnate, Robert Allerton including a 30,000 sf Georgian mansion, guest houses, out buildings, formal gardens and adjacent landscapes all now comprising the Robert Allerton Park in central Illinois.

University of Chicago, Presidents House
Prepared a feasibility study for the President's House, located in a prime, high-visibility location on the Midway Plaisance next to the famous Rockefeller Chapel. Designed in 1895 by Henry Ives Cobb, the 10,000 sf residence is constructed of roman brick with limestone masonry trim. A 1500 square foot coach house was included in the project.

University of Chicago, International House renovation
A 485 bed dormitory and mixed use building constructed in 1932 as part of the International House consortium founded by John D. Rockefeller. Project consists of the final phase of a multi-year renovation project includes modifications for universal access to the building and relocation of the administration and front office areas.

U.S. General Services Administration, U.S. Customs House
Façade restoration of 13 story, 1932 federal building. Firm served as consulting preservation architect to a design-build team.

Chicago Federal Center
Façade restoration of three prominent mid-century buildings designed by Mies van der Rohe. Firm served as consulting preservation architect to a design-build team.

U.S. General Services Administration, Retainer
Indefinite quantity contract for architectural services over 5 years. Project scopes include interior build-out, sidewalk vault replacement, exterior wall investigation, Landscaping design, feasibility studies, programming and space planning. Locations include leased and owned federal space in the Chicago area.

North Avenue Bridge
Replacement of historic Chicago Bascule bridge over the Chicago River. Firm served as consulting preservation architect to the design engineer.

Wilson St. Bridge
Design of new 3-span, concrete roadway bridge over the Fox River in Batavia, IL to replace existing deteriorated structure. As consultant to a bridge engineering firm provided aesthetic direction, architectural design, community outreach and technical design of various bridge and streetscape elements.

Wacker Drive Reconstruction Project
Reconstruction of the 1926 East-West leg of Chicago's Wacker Drive; a multi-level viaduct roadway structure clad with ornamental stone stairways and façade elements along the Chicago River.

Animal Bridge
Part of the award winning reconstruction of south Lake Shore Drive in Chicago, the 1904 Minnesota sandstone bridge cladding was disassembled and reconstructed in another location on a new, wider structure exactly matching the original bridge profile. The stone cladding was restored and reinstalled.

I-74 Reconstruction
Reconstruction of 11 miles of Interstate 74 through Peoria Illinois. Project includes bridges, retaining walls, tunnels, fencing, guardrails, lighting, sound-walls, landscape design coordination

CPS Capital Improvement Program projects
Multi-year design services for various projects over 15 schools including exterior/interior renovations, accessibility upgrades, roofing, window replacement.

U.S. Navy – Great Lakes Naval Training Center
Multiple projects involving the restoration, renovation or adaptive reuse of several buildings on the historic naval training base. Recently awarded Indefinite Quantity contract as consulting preservation architect.

Loyola Press
Conversion of 10,000 sf distribution warehouse space into editorial and production offices for a publishing company.

St. John's Episcopal Church
Retained as design architects for the reconstruction of an Episcopal church gutted by fire. Scope included new exposed heavy timber truss roof system, complete interior restoration, stained glass window restoration, complete new MEP systems.

Edgewater Beach Apartments
Multiple projects over 10 years for 1927, 17 story condominium building. Work scope included complete restoration of stucco exterior wall system, replacement and restoration of over 3500 windows, Interior renovation of elevators and lobby, redesign of exterior canopy.

At VOA Associates:

Hyatt Rosemont
New 10 story, 200 room, concrete flat slab hotel with restaurant and 17,000 ft2 conference facilities.

Ben Johnson on

Design is humankind's greatest power.

where he finds inspiration
In our recognition of the value and resource in the complexity of systems and our interest in harnessing their essence

his favorite "moment" in architecture
The fall of orthodox Modernism. If it was the ultimate truth, which Modernism purported to be, then why do anything else? There's such a range of excellence in architecture that applies all over the spectrum of life. We're realizing now that complexity is a valuable thing, as opposed to an insistence on a rigid order.

his favorite city architecturally
It's impossible for me to identify a single favorite, but the city that forever returns to the front of mind is Istanbul—perhaps for its unique setting.

his favorite thing about a collaborative design process
The potential for a diverse range of concepts to meet, combine and recombine to create new, unanticipated results.

what he'd be if he weren't an architect
An urban planner—researching, defining, planning and predicting the urban condition.

what he does when he's not designing
I try to spend as much time as possible outdoors, going in circles—hiking, biking, skiing, kayaking, sailing…