Design Council

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s (SAIC) Design Council provides guidance for the Department of Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects (AIADO) and philanthropic support for the annual Design Council Awards given to graduating master’s degree students.

Made up of AIADO alumni and friends, the council is a professional network of advisors and mentors for SAIC students and alumni in design. The council raises the visibility and prestige of the department and highlights the contributions of SAIC artists and designers to the Chicago, national, and international design communities; serves as a networking base for AIADO with industry partners, furthering connections between SAIC and the design community; and supports the department’s priority initiatives.

Zurich Esposito, Executive Vice President, AIA Chicago

Zurich is the Executive Vice President for AIA Chicago. Zurich holds a Master’s Degree in Historic Preservation from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  He has taught architectural history at the University of Illinois, Chicago, and has participated on many design-related juries for academic institutions, organizations and awards programs, such as the National Endowment for the Arts, the Schiff Foundation Fellowship of the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Chicago Architectural Club.  

Gordon Gill, (BOG) Co-Founder, Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture

Gordon was a part time faculty lecturer at SAIC in the spring of 2008 and 2009 where he taught in the Graduate Architecture Program.  Gordon also taught design studio at Harvard Graduate School of Design. He co-founded Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture with BOG Adrian Smith in 2006 after they left the Chicago office of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill LLP (SOM). He currently serves on the Latin School of Chicago Facilities Committee, the Harvard Graduate School of Design Facilities Committee and serves as a trustee for the Chicago Architecture Foundation.

Todd Heiser, Design Principal / Creative Director, Gensler

Todd is a Co-Creative Director of Gensler’s Chicago office. Todd’s design process champions partnership with his clients, which include Matter, Google, Kohler, Fourth Presbyterian Church, Le Meridien Hotels, and Nickelodeon. He is also a major design voice in re-imagining Chicago’s Willis Tower. He was named Contract magazine’s 2016 Designer of the Year and Interior Design magazine’s 2015 HiP Leader for Workplace. He holds bachelors and master’s degrees in architecture and a bachelor’s degree in interior design. He also received the Henry Adams Medal from the AIA.

Sarah Herda Director, Graham Foundation

Sarah is the Executive Director of the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts. In addition to the funding program, Herda oversees a public program of exhibitions, lectures, and publications produced at the foundation’s headquarters in the historic Madlener House in Chicago. Sarah is active in the design community and serves on numerous advisory boards and review panels related to architecture, art, design and related fields.

Deirdre Jordan, Design Director | Founder, Troscan Design

Deirdre obtained her Masters of Fine Art in interior architecture at the School of Art Institute of Chicago, and later taught at SAIC for eight years. After working for Holly Hunt, Deirdre married her partner Bob, the same year they founded Troscan.

Tom Kerwin, Principal, bKL Architecture LLC

Founding Principal of bKL Architecture, Thomas Kerwin leads a team of talented architects based in Chicago and Shanghai who share his passion and determination for creating places which positively contribute to shaping the urban environment. Tom’s breadth of knowledge and leadership skills have grown bKL exponentially since its inception in 2010. In a relatively short time, Tom has established bKL nationally and internationally with an impressive portfolio showcasing a variety of project types and scales including: Wolf Point West and MILA in Chicago, GEMS World Academy Chicago, Miami Midtown 6, The Selby in Toronto, and Animation Cultural City in Beijing.

Brian Lee, Partner at Skidmore Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM)

Brian Lee, FAIA, is a Design Partner at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM). He received his Bachelor of Arts in Architecture with Highest Honors from the University of California, Berkeley in 1976 and his Master of Architecture with Commendation from Harvard University Graduate School of Design in 1978. After practicing in the SOM San Francisco office for 28 years, he joined the Chicago office in 2007.

Tom Lee, Design Principal, HDR Architecture

Tom serves as Design Director for the Chicago office of HDR. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the University of Cincinnati and a Master of Architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Prior to joining HDR, Tom spent 8 years at John Ronan Architects and has worked at other firms such as Goettsch Partners, JAHN, and Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates.

Zoe Ryan, Chair and Curator of Architecture and Design, Art Institute of Chicago

Zoe is the John H. Bryan Chair and Curator of Architecture and Design at the Art Institute of Chicago. A curator and author, her projects focus on exploring the impact of architecture and design on society. Zoe has taught graduate seminars on design history and theory at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is a member of the Design Trust International Advisory Council, Hong Kong. 

Timothy Swanson, Office Practice Leader, CannonDesign

Tim is an advocate for smart growth and sustainable development, working with leaders at the intersection of urban planning, public health and education, identifying new ways design and strategy can positively influence socioeconomic conditions.

Angie West, West Supply

Angie graduated from Vanderbilt University with majors in Human and Organization Development and Fine Arts with a minor in Studio Art.  She worked for Holly Hunt in Chicago as an executive assistant coordinating visual and branding matters for the showroom and in-house collections.  After pursuing photography for several years, Angie was invited to return to Chicago and rejoin Holly Hunt as the Marketing Director, eventually moving on to become Design Studio Director.  In 2009, her father transferred ownership of the business name of West Supply, a 70 year old Texas-based family company, and one year later, she purchased a small foundry in Chicago with plans to reinvent the business.

Nate White, Associate, bKL Architecture LLC

Nate has experience in conceptual design through design development on a variety of mixed-use and residential projects throughout the United States. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in architecture, with a minor in business, at the University of Nebraska, and a Master of Architecture degree, with a certificate in historic preservation, at The School of The Art Institute of Chicago. He is the Chair of the AIA Chicago Young Architects Forum, a member of the Chicago Central Area Committee Young Leaders and Landmarks Illinois and is an associate AIA member. Nate is a past recipient of AIA Illinois’s Student Design Honor Award.

Tanner Woodford, Founder and Executive Director, the Chicago Design Museum; Lecturer, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Tanner Woodford is founder, executive director, and bartender of the Chicago Design Museum. He teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, makes Iterative Work, and holds a bachelor of science in design from Arizona State University. As a designer, educator, and entrepreneur, he has taught, lectured, and led workshops on design issues, social change, and design history in classrooms and at conferences. He is irrepressibly optimistic, believing design has the capacity to fundamentally improve the human condition. He lives and works in Chicago, Ill.