A wide shot of a ceramics studio, featuring students working with pottery wheels and other tools.

Monika Thadhani

Senior Lecturer


Architect, Designer, Urban Planner and Educator. 


Monika is a Founder and Principal of the MoNa Architecture, Planning and Design office, which engages in transformative architectural and urban projects focused on innovative design, testing the idea that architecture and its physical, spatial, technological and ecological aspects can be responsive to environment. Her professional experience includes a diverse portfolio of residential, commercial, cultural, institutional, hospitality and government projects. Her work represents the connection between planning and architecture, and their relationship to natural phenomenon. Using a holistic approach, Monika links her architectural design with all disciplines of art including film, music, philosophy and literature. These innovative methods allow her design to link architecture with social and cultural development. She is a progressive and critical thinker, as seen in her professional and academic work. Her teaching and practice are focused on innovative projects, ecological concerns, and reinforcing the importance of community and social equity.

Monika has over 18 years of professional experience in Architecture and has worked for several companies in Chicago, Beijing and Poland. She has taught and lectured for over 5 years in United States and abroad. She has worked as an Adjunct Professor at College of Architecture at IIT, Chicago. She has also been teaching and lecturing at International Architecture Workshop in Venice in collaboration with faculty and students of IUAV, University of Venice, working on conceptual projects such as “Mose”, “Sea Scraper”, “Venice Towers,” “Inverted Urbanism,” and “Urban Innovation”. She has also been teaching and lecturing at International Architectural Summer Workshop at ETSAB in Barcelona. Currently she is an Adjunct Professor at School of Architecture and Urban Planning in Milwaukee. She is also a Lecturer in AIADO at the School of Art Institute in Chicago.

In addition to her professional and academic achievements, Monika is a Founder of “Education for Future,” a non-profit organization focused on providing access to education in the third world countries. Her efforts have helped fund, design and build educational facilities in distressed African areas. 

Monika remains socially active and engaged in the realities of the world today. She is also a partner and expert of the international architectural organization, Laka Reacts, which connects experts in architecture from all over the world in developing relevant and authentic solutions to specific social issues. 

She was recognized by BD+C (Building Design and Construction) with a 40 under 40 award as an “Influential Individual” for her achievements and leadership in architectural design, along with her influence in creating a dialog between practice and academia. 

Monika holds two Master Degrees, a Master of Science in Architecture from Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, and a Master in Architecture from the University of Technology in Wroclaw, Poland.

Personal Statement

My work and research investigates architecture and its larger environment, the metropolis that can be responsive to human behavior and adjust dynamically to current needs and circumstances, which are often unpredictable. It proposes solutions and applications involving modern technology, ecology and economy that, together, can make a significant contribution to social revitalization. My work eschews traditional thinking as a default response to contemporary issues. Rather, I develop an authentic language of design where architecture becomes a holistic and clear solution to the problem. 

My teaching methodology focuses on preparing students to become independent, critical thinkers, and to have the courage to face the issues that are unique to today's and future generations, to develop the principles and vision to create a better world for themselves and future generations. I believe that all students must learn the value of collaboration. Saying that, the focus cannot be on architecture alone but rather a larger lens of economic, scientific, social and cultural aspect. I discourage students from borrowing positions from others. I teach them to base their project choices on clarification and an expression of their authentic beliefs, principles and values. 

I try to look at discovery, invention and innovation as a process for developing new models which are authentic and useable in addressing future issues. Discovery is the understanding of “knowing what you do not know.” Invention is the critical thinking that comes with a holistic analysis of the research and developing principles of approach. Innovation is the ability to clearly express these ideas in an effective, efficient way that creates a base that can be developed and applied to larger environments and concerns. 

I constantly use nature as a metaphor because it speaks to design through purpose, efficiency and its connection to the larger eco-system and environment. It naturally multitasks, solving many problems in the most efficient and comprehensive manner. 

I believe that architects in-the-making have to go beyond their perceived limitations, continue to grow, learn and not be discouraged from the many setbacks they will encounter. My studio proves we are all capable of making great things greater through curiosity, passion and confidence.

Courses Taught

  • 2019 Fall AIADO 6110 Arch/Interior Architecture Graduate studio 3
  • 2020 Spring AIADO 6220 Arch/Inarch GRD st 6-thesis
  • 2020 Fall 2019 Fall AIADO 6110 Arch/Interior Architecture Graduate studio
  • 2021 Spring AIADO 6220 Arch/Inarch GRD st 6-thesis
  • 2021 Fall AIADO 6213 Thesis Strategies
  • 2022 Spring AIADO 6220 Arch/Inarch GRD st 6-thesis
  • 2023 Fall AIA 3031 Architecture Undergrad Studio 3


Title Department Catalog Term


Thesis studio asks students to determine and research an original problem with pertinent issues, and design an innovative response to some aspect of architectural production. Course Goals and Objectives 1) Give individual students the opportunity to discover, define, and research a significant aspect of architectural production in depth. 2) Develop a personal approach to an important issue of contemporary significance to the field of architecture and communicate it concisely. 3) Work with originality, clarity, and high production values at the end of an architectural education.

Class Number