Passionate architects and interior designers, we work as one integrated team with one another and with our clients.
Together, we use the power of design to unlock value.
We believe that a successful project begins with a successful partnership, and that is why we strive to establish a long-term, trusting relationship with each client.
We started over twenty years ago with a simple mission: to provide the highest level of design and service to the most demanding clients. In our first five years alone, our team of talented professionals completed more than 5 million square feet of projects.
We’ve grown even more since then, expanding our portfolio of work from an initial focus on corporate headquarters and commercial office buildings to include interior architecture, education, hospitality, laboratories and multifamily buildings. In 2007, we moved our team to an open/collaborative space in the historic Marquette Building in Chicago’s beautiful Loop.
We work hand-in-hand with our clients to design spaces that help solve their business challenges. This starts with achieving a mutual understanding of not only what they seek, but why they seek it. We bring together interior designers and architects on a collaborative team, believing best ideas always surface when we work as one.
With respect for our clients and our colleagues, we engage in thoughtful listening and value the insights we gain from working collaboratively. By considering clients’ needs, aspirations and economics, we design creative solutions that generate excitement.
Stephen Wright, Founder and Managing Principal of Wright Heerema Architects, has over 40 years of experience designing corporate and investment office properties across the United States. He believes that client relationships should continue even after the project is complete, and continues to maintain a working relationship with the firm’s first client from 1996.
As Principal-in-Charge, Steve provides leadership to the WHA team and takes an active role in upfront strategic discussions to ensure the client’s business and design goals are met. He analyzes all design options alongside the team to arrive at a finished product that embodies the client’s brand, responds to the needs of its employees, and functions as a high-performance space. His approach to architecture and design is highly regarded by professionals across the industry.
Steve is an active member of Chicago’s vast real estate community. One of his most cherished local causes is the Greater Chicago Food Depository. The firm is a recurring sponsor of the depository’s annual Commercial Real Estate Awards dinner.
As Managing Principal of Wright Heerema Architects, Roger Heerema has a proven track record of designing highly successful buildings and interiors throughout Chicagoland and across the country. His portfolio of award-winning work includes ground-up buildings, build-to-suits, repositioning projects and master plans. He has worked closely with investors and developers for over 30 years with a long-lasting goal of designing outstanding work spaces that excite and impress tenants.
Roger has provided leadership to the WHA project team since joining the firm in 1996 and continues to implement a comprehensive architectural and design approach that fuses functionality with client needs. As an active member of the commercial real estate community, Roger recently participated as a panelist on REJournal's 15th annual Commercial Real Estate Forecast Conference.
Dan’s passion for architecture developed as a student when he formed an appreciation for its blend of art and science. He evokes that same passion today as an experienced architect and project manager. Having worked alongside designers throughout the course of his career, he has a keen understanding of what it takes to bring drawings to life and recognizes the importance of maintaining open lines of communication with the design team throughout the course of each project.
Since joining our firm in 1998, Dan has led the development of some of the largest commercial office projects we have completed, including those attaining LEED certification. Of his many accomplishments, he is especially proud of leading A.J. Gallagher’s 315,000 SF corporate headquarters redevelopment in Rolling Meadows, IL.
Dan oversees WHA’s IT department to ensure the firm stays at the leading edge of technology. He is also an active member of the Village of Wilmette’s Appearance Review Commission, and helps assess applicant designs for new construction and renovations of commercial properties, multi-family buildings and retail shops in the community.
Ken joined WHA in 1997 and remains fiercely dedicated to realizing cost-effective and truly constructible solutions. He has completed a broad spectrum of projects in his 30+ years as an architect, including corporate headquarters, laboratories, processing and packaging facilities, financial institution workplaces, retail centers, historic renovations, higher education projects and more. His broad experience and commitment to client service ensures that even the smallest details will be resolved with efficiency. He is known for his relentless follow-up, earning client confidence that every challenge will be addressed. A client remarked that “once it’s written in Ken’s notepad, it’s as good as done.”
Ken’s interest in the field began at an early age after receiving building sets as gifts from his relatives, who were also architects. Today he is an accomplished leader and has mentored several of WHA’s architectural designers by preparing them to earn their professional licenses. Whether leading the project or experiencing the space as an end-user, Ken’s favorite architectural structures are those that are created to foster social interaction.
Chris, a LEED accredited professional, brings a wide range of experience to each project, and leverages his diverse background to serve each client with a broader perspective. He specializes in interior architecture, master planning and tenant improvements, and has experience designing spaces for client sectors including the performing arts, higher education, municipal facilities, and historic spaces.
Chris’s inspiration for entering the field stemmed from observing his artist and carpenter family members as a child. Architecture felt like the perfect combination of both trades and proved to be a natural fit. Today, he enjoys creating design solutions that meet client needs and elicit both elegance and simplicity. His passion for architecture is displayed not only in the WHA office but in his home as well, where he houses the custom built-in bookshelf and entertainment system that he designed himself.
Daniele grew up in Uruguay, South America competing in mock design competitions against his budding architect brother and presenting to the “jury”–his architect father. These early lessons in architecture and design led to the development of his unique and realistic graphic style, which won AIA’s General Excellence in Architecture award. Today, Daniele utilizes both computer and hand sketch methods to explore designs that offer clients exceptional and economical solutions.
Otniel was inspired to explore the field of architecture after discovering his unique artistic talent, mathematical precision and affinity for detail at a young age. Encouragement from family and friends led him to study architecture in college, where he further advanced his design skills. He has since developed extensive graphic rendering methods to help WHA clients visualize a wide range of design solutions through realistic, 3D software. These methods have helped him design beautiful spaces for end-users to ultimately work, play, and rest in.
Otniel believes that having a clear purpose and balanced visual appeal leads to equally attractive and functional spaces. He uses this approach every day in his own work to ensure that the aesthetics, as important as they are, do not obscure the space’s main purpose. He’s seen this method come to life through the work of architects Santiago Calatrava and Renzo Piano, who both celebrate aesthetics without compromising the building’s true purpose.
Scott Delano is a veteran Chicago-based corporate interiors leader with 25 years of experience in planning, architecture and interiors. As Design Director, he is charged with leading, inspiring and growing Wright Heerema’s interiors practice, ensuring exceptional client experiences. Passionate about creating effective, sustainable and elegant environments, his experience includes many architectural and design projects for workplaces, universities, municipal buildings and mixed-use/multi-family residential towers.
Scott was inspired to study architecture and interior design after realizing his childhood appreciation for toys that allowed him to 3D problem-solve. Today, he holds a Masters of Architecture from Tulane University and tends to gravitate toward interior projects due to their complexity, high degree of detail, and ability to form intimate relationships with end-users. As a distinguished designer, Scott recognizes the opportunity to bring each client’s ideas to life and feels a great responsibility to develop designs that uniquely reflect their values, goals, and identity.
Scott stays active in the Chicago real estate community by frequently participating in Design School Reviews and Design Competition Juries and serving as a NeoCon Judge.
Scott became interested in architecture at a young age by watching his father, an architect, work from their home office. He started by using a Crayola drafting set at a young age, transitioned to mechanical drafting and architecture in high school, and later won second prize in the student category for a beach house design competition in Michigan City, Indiana. Scott’s interest in the field led him to join his father’s own firm as an intern, where he earned his architect’s license and quickly developed a sharp set of technical skills.
Today, architecture continues to satisfy his passion for working out details and seeing them come together in the field. As a Technical Architect, Scott strives to incorporate all facets of architecture, interior design and constructability into each project while maintaining the original design intent. This approach was evident in his recent contribution to A.J. Gallagher’s 315,000 SF corporate headquarters redevelopment in Rolling Meadows, IL.
Scott has over 20 years of experience at the director level overseeing operations and human resources for design and real estate firms. He is a long-time college adjunct instructor and holds a Bachelor of Architecture from Kansas State University along with an MBA from Northern Illinois University.
Scott’s deep appreciation for simplicity in details, colors and textiles supports his design philosophy that “less is more.” He also believes that good design should work together with the environment. This includes working well within the project site and climate, and working well with the global environment by utilizing sustainable/wellness products, construction methods and building systems.
Aaron holds a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he won two first-place design awards and received honorable mention for three design studio projects. Following graduation, he was recognized as the winner of an architectural competition to redesign the entry stairwells for a community housing project in Peoria, Illinois.
Today, Aaron approaches the architectural process by taking on each project in a way that best serves the client’s goals. He seeks out opportunities to creatively and thoughtfully design outside the box, and solves design challenges by offering program-driven solutions that ultimately exceed client expectations. Outside the office, Aaron is an active member of the Design Commission for the Village of Arlington Heights, where he has resided for nearly 15 years.
Ajibade holds a Bachelor of Architecture from Tuskegee University and has extensive experience in the architectural, engineering and construction industries. He has worked on large commercial mixed-use and high rise residential developments across the globe, and has contributed to redesigning office spaces for some of the largest pharmaceutical companies headquartered in Chicagoland. In addition to designing spaces, Ajibade also enjoys photographing them. His photography was featured on the cover of Hospitality Design Magazine’s 2016 HD Awards issue.
Ajibade’s love for math, physics and geometry has influenced his appreciation for architecture since day one. He approaches the architectural process by cultivating each piece of the puzzle to arrive at fresh, integrated solutions. He also places a high value on cultural diversity because it broadens the base from which we approach creative problem solving, especially in architecture and design. As a result, he takes every opportunity he can to travel, seek new experiences, and explore different types of architecture, food, and people.
Edward joined Wright Heerema Architects as an assistant to the Business Manager 10 years ago when the firm consisted of 30 employees. Armed with degrees in both Accounting and Psychology, he progressed to Director of Finance and currently leads the accounting department for our 60-person firm. Edward works closely with WHA’s principals and leadership team to equip them with the information and tools they need to make important financial decisions for the firm. Outside work, he applies his newfound home improvement skills to his condo.
Ellen is a Registered Interior Designer, LEED GA accredited, a professional member of IIDA, and specializes in designing corporate interiors. She received a Bachelor of Science in Interior Design from Western Michigan University.
Ellen’s interest in channeling creativity into functional, beautifully designed spaces led her to a career in interior design. Her favorite piece of local architecture is Tribune Tower, and one of her favorites from Michigan, her home state, is the Eli and Edyth Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University. Her appreciation for design extends into her home life as well. Ellen enjoys following IIDA Illinois on Instagram and loves her Eames Molded Plastic Armchair for its timeless aesthetic and functionality.
Judy’s portfolio ranges from municipal work to corporate interiors, including A.J. Gallagher’s recent 288,000 SF corporate headquarters redevelopment in Rolling Meadows, IL. Originally on track to study medicine, her intrigue for high-end home décor and an overall change of heart led her to Loyola University Chicago’s interior architecture program, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Architectural Studies. Today she approaches each project with a fresh set of eyes and continues to love the fast-paced nature of her profession.
Judy is an equal opportunity admirer of many different architectural styles. Though her taste has evolved over time, her deepest appreciation to date is for the Carbide & Carbon Building’s terracotta tower and gold leaf accents. Outside the office, Judy has often been asked to critique student work at design schools across the city. Evaluating the finished product is always enjoyable, but she is often pleasantly surprised to learn from the students’ fresh perspectives while synchronously imparting her own wisdom onto them.
Mel first considered interior design as a career after a high school aptitude test matched her to it. Having explored its possibilities, design proved to be a perfect fit in an exciting industry. Today she is a well-established interior designer with a drive to deliver practical, efficient, and well-designed workplaces to clients.
Mel holds a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies from University of Nebraska–Lincoln. She is an expert in corporate interior design, looks to Chicago’s Carbide & Carbon building for architectural inspiration, and is proud to have showcased her work in the August 2013 issue of Interior Design Magazine.
Sheila Sipes has over 15 years of marketing and business development experience in the local commercial real estate community and brings an incredible amount of energy and knowledge to the firm. As Director of Business Development, she is dedicated to growing Wright Heerema’s presence throughout the Chicago market.
At WHA, Sheila leads the firm’s wellness program and events committee. She is an active member with CoreNet Global and is the Chicago Chapter’s Sponsorship Chair. She is also a committee member of the Greater Chicago Food Depository’s annual Commercial Real Estate Awards event.
Tina is LEED accredited, a member of IIDA, ASID, and USGBC, and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design from Harrington College of Design and a Bachelor of Arts in Advertising and Graphic Design from Marquette University. She has an extensive portfolio of interiors work including several corporate headquarters renovations for a major pharmaceutical company.
Tina believes that spaces should create excitement and pride for those who use them, therefore it is important for them to embody the breadth and life of each unique client. This philosophy is showcased in her favorite architectural structure, Santiago Calatrava’s City of Arts and Sciences Architectural Complex in Valencia, Spain.
Tina volunteers her time to a health and fitness program for inner-city kids and was previously involved in numerous Chicago nonprofits including a pro bono design organization. The most unique piece of furniture in her home is a Merritt coffee table made from twigs and branches that were gathered along the coast of Java, Indonesia.
We are talented. We are qualified. We are award-winning.
Our work has been recognized by some of the industry’s most respected organizations. Following are a few examples of our recent accolades.
Architect of the Year
2003, 2009, 2014
Architect and Design Firm of the Year
Redevelopment of the Year
Build to Suit Project of the Year
Architect of the Year
2010, 2015, 2016, 2017
Interior Design Firm of the Year
2009, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017
Redevelopment of the Year
2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017
Build to Suit Project of the Year
Design Firm of the Year
Green Development of the Year
Design Firm of the Year
Office Redevelopment of the Year
Office Development of the Year
Project of the Year, the Salvation Army
Project of the Year, 311 S. Wacker, One S. Wacker
Top Office Architecture Firms
Top Reconstruction Architecture Firms
Top Architecture/Engineering Firms
Project of the Year, City of Lake Forest Municipal Services Facility
New Construction Suburbs, Project of the Year, AAOS
Design Award for Excellence in Architectural & Engineering Design” for Oakbrook Pointe Office Center