Wheeler Kearns Architects
The practice, embracing a wide range of typologies with attentive dedication to sustainability and a long, close collaboration with nonprofit, mission-driven organizations, has been, in recognition of the outstanding achievements produced over time, twice named by AIA Chicago’s ‘Firm of the Year’, honoured with five AIA Chicago Design Excellence awards in 2020, Driehaus Award, while their work is included in the permanent collections of the Chicago History Museum and the Art Institute of Chicago.
Dan Wheeler is also professor of architecture at the University of iIlinois and has received, in quality of mentor, and inspirational figure the 2017 AIA Illinois Nathan Clifford Ricker Award for Architecture Education.
The conversation starts with a reflection on some thoughts by Dan Wheeler about his idea of architecture and continues with the personal experiences Joy and Chris-Annmarie went through after their first encounter with Dan, deepening their passionate involvement at service of people, in the effort to activate inclusive, meaningful social spaces.
It appears inevitable to dwell on the difficult context of a city like Chicago, where their interventions mainly take place, addressing how they strive to bridge deep social gaps.
Authors of many educational projects, they express the firm’s philosophy, intending with every proposal not just to offer only one solution but multipurpose occasions for cross-pollination between program types and uses, focusing on ‘Granor Greenhouse’, an exemplar, recently completed work .
The conversation continues with a similar nonprofit project, ’Marwen’, in the different field of arts, able to create inclusive atmospheres and to encourage artistic talents.
‘The Night Ministry’, a renovation providing a new home, healthcare and human connection to members of the Chicago community experiencing homelessness or poverty, is another important initiative embracing vital aims, including involvement and awareness-raising of young, since from early adolescence, towards social responsibilities.
‘The Momentary’, the new catalyzing multidisciplinary contemporary art destination of Bentonville, with its inclusive mission and vibrant cultural experiences concludes this interesting encounter