26 mar 09 | Chicago Reader

Best of Chicago 2009 art & architecture

by Lee Bey

The Readers Choice: Gordon Gill

We no longer butcher many hogs or make much steel, but Chicago can still turn out talented architects--and Gordon Gill is one to keep an eye on.

Gill, 45, specializes in environmentally sustainable large-scale buildings. His designs have a machine-like aesthetic, looking--and functioning--as much like devices as buildings. While an associate partner at the Chicago office of architectural powerhouse Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Gill led the design of China's Pearl River Tower, a 71-story building (set for completion next year) that harnesses wind and sun to produce as much energy as it uses. Now at Smith + Gill Architecture, the firm he formed in 2006 with fellow SOM expat Adrian Smith, Gill has upped the ante with Masdar Headquarters, an eight-story mixed-use project under construction in the United Arab Emirates. The complex is billed as the world's first positive-energy building--meaning it will produce more energy than it consumes.

Gill hasn't snagged a groundbreaking Chicago project yet, but his firm's got the next best thing: a major green updating of the Sears--er, Willis--Tower that may include painting the black 110-story behemoth silver.