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.
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 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.
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.
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.
As a Project Manager and Licensed Architect, Laurel blends a unique combination of design sensibility, technical capabilities, and client focus. Laurel has extensive experience in all phases of the design process and will be involved from start to finish on the project. As project manager, she will lead the integrated design team and consultant coordination efforts. Her focus will be on ensuring that the client’s needs are kept at top of mind throughout the design process and that a successful project is delivered in a timley and efficient manner.
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, 2019
Interior Design Firm of the Year
2009, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019
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